Welcome to the jungle

Papallacta Travel Blog

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The tour consisted of me and one other girl, Karine, a French Canadian who was also travelling alone for the 1st time; she however was at the tail end of her trip as opposed to my beginning.  Our guide took us to the Quito bus station to catch the lift to Papallacta, a lovely little town with natural volcanic hot springs.  I was relieved to have my 1st South American bus station experience with a guide and fellow passenger to help me through, for the place was huge, confusing and teeming with Quitorians shouting their various bus destinations.

  I had plenty of time to observe as we had to wait an hour. I then discovered that here, if a bus I advertised for 11 am, it could be departure time, or arrival time, or just an estimate as to either.  This bus arrived at 11 and didn’t leave until 30 minutes and 10 vendors later.  The vendors sell such a miscellaneous collection of crap its hard to imagine how they choose their wares: some DVDs, some ice cream, some miniature wrenches or TV remote controls.  The ride itself was uneventful and the hot springs certainly were hot,  I was in my element as tepid water just won’t do for me! 

            So Karine and I spent about an hour admiring the mountains extending high in the sky all around us: tall, lush, green and covered in hazy ever shifting clouds.

  Being so high in altitude clouds are simply everywhere, obliterating your view completely sometimes, only to part shortly after and calmly drift to the distance.  Afterwards we caught the bus to Tena, a small village on the edge of the Oriente (Amazon), where we were to meet our 2nd guide.  I sat next to a local guy around my age and had the pleasure of my 1st Spanish conversation in a long while as he knew no English, but was very friendly.  There were definitely times I was smiling and nodding blankly, but for the most part I held my own conversationally speaking.  One of his first questions for me was if I was married, when I replied no, he asked me how my father felt about me travelling alone…a perfect example of the machismo attitude here.  I took no offence however, when in Rome etc..

When we arrived in Tena 3 hours later it was dark already, and our 2nd guide was awaiting our arrival.  We grabbed a quick bite and took a truck to the edge of the town, with a few extra locals joining us on the way.  These were a few family members of our guide, an indigenous Quechua tribe, and the guide said his family consisted these days of about 60 memebers..  When the road ended we put on our wellies and grabbed our flash lights, and began to hike into the deep dark unknown.

Roughly 30 mins later we arrived at our cabins, and were told it was time to learn about their Shamanic rituals.  I had read about these before so was expecting something like an invite to an actual ceremony, with a Shaman mostly naked an painted and pierced everywhere, chanting, with a roaring fire and natives dancing around it to the wild beat of a drum.  What we got, however, were 3 little kids walking in a circle while one of the adults played a flute of sorts.  They were cute in their costumes, but a far cry from the mighty warriors I had pictured!  I guess I should have known however that the ceremonies are far 2 sacred and rare to invite every wanderer in.  We retired right after that to our wooden and bamboo pole lodge, complete with bug nets over our beds, and fell asleep to the sounds of the jungle.


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photo by: alexa0974