Ecuador 2017 Day #19

August 29

By: Phil & Andrew 

Today was our first full day spent in the Amazon. We were woken up by the sound of pounding rain against the tin roof of our rooms. Most of us didn’t sleep too well because after our nocturnal walk through the forest, we realized that the stunning, but also potentially dangerous creatures could be lurking in our opening ceiling rooms. Although there were many of us that didn’t get a thorough night’s sleep there were also a group that slept like babies.

After the busy night deciphering what sounds were made by what animal we started our day bright and early ready for a day jam packed with activities. Although our day was full of activities, it wasn’t as planned in the itinerary because there was a torrential downpour that started late last night and continued on throughout the day. This weather resulted in our plans being changed because some of the planned activities were reliant on sunny weather, such as exploring a salt lick where parakeets are typically found. Although some of the plans changed it was still very busy because the activities for the next day were easily substituted.

The group was excited to start the day with the always fascinating motor canoe rides that were our only form of transportation while in the Amazon. The canoe rides were always so enjoyable because of the ever changing shore line. As a result of the heavy rainfall, the water level of the river had risen over 1.5 meters which resulted in heavy debris floating throughout that made for a pretty exciting ride. After about a 15 minute ride down the river we made it to the Yaku Amarun museum which showcased many different hunting mechanisms, as well as several other traditional items that were handmade by the tribe members. After getting a guided tour through the museum, we got to the part we were all waiting for… making chocolate. The process of making the chocolate was fascinating but also very time consuming. The process involves harvesting the fruit from the tree, separating the slimy bean from the shell, which they showed us was as tasty as candy when eaten before roasted. After separating the bean they are then roasted over a fire until crispy and the delicious aroma fills the room. The bean is then ground in a hand driven mill and added to whatever the person desires to bring the great chocolatey taste into your life.

After enjoying the Nutella like spread on freshly toasted buns, we were shown how to use a traditional blow dart gun which the whole group then tried. When trying to hit the wooden Toucan with the blow darts we realized that there wasn’t actually a lot of air force needed to propel the dart quickly towards the target. Then we hopped back on the canoes and headed for the animal rescue centre just up the river.

When we arrived at AmaZOOnia Animal Rescue Centre, we were given a tour of all the animals that they were rehabilitating to enter back into the wilderness. The animals that were being nurtured at the centre were so diverse from those found in Canada, everyone got amazing pictures of the stunning animals. One of our favorite things we saw were the toucans that had such vibrant colors. After the tour, we were given the chance to purchase some souvenirs that were used to fund the food that the animals are given as well as new enclosures as the number of rescued animals continues to grow. We then ventured on the river once again to another traditionally built hut for a fresh lunch that consisted of chicken fried rice with Coca Cola.

To end our day we had to take the long journey back up stream through the strong debris filled current to the lodge. When we arrived at the lodge, we enjoyed some quiet time, but shortly after we got right back to it with a daytime walk to a nearby pineapple/ banana farm at which we purchased some freshly picked fruit for our breakfast tomorrow. To be even more pumped up for the morning, we even got some freshly roasted and ground coffee/cocoa to enjoy with breakfast. Our evening ended off with cards, bracelet making, journals and friendly conversation.

Phil & Andrew, writing from the middle of no where in the Amazon