"Next time you come to make the jungle babies?"

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Geez it´s been a while and, as we´re sure you can imagine, many adventures have been had. We suppose we ought to start with Christmas, on the frikkin BEACH. Now we´ve heard tales of horrendous snow storms in Blighty so we´ll try not to rub it in too much...

We arrived in Canoa after an 8 hour overnight bus journey from Quito. It was difficult to sleep especially as we approached the coastal region of Manabi because the temperature rose significantly. As we stumbled off the bus at 5 o clock in the morning we both looked as if we had been frequenting a sauna, and needless to say we had played the role of butt rest throughout the journey. As we slowly started to snap back into consciousness we realised we´d been dropped in front of a beautiful beach, the sun was coming up and the sand was golden and hot. We booked into our bamboo hostel which sat neatly on the beach and quickly met "American Greg". "American Greg" was really living the life. Our first vision of the fella was a tanned Californian body hunched over a surf board giving it a good seeing to. It later transpired he would happily give us lessons and let us take the surf boards out for a free spin. I mean obviously we were, just, like stoked. It was all preddy far out.. I mean.. we were like todally cudding the waves... making some serious shapes in the ocean.. by the end of the trip we really felt one with the waaderr... there´s just nothing better than seeing the sunrise surfing in on a... big breaker (?).No cereal. We tried it out a couple of times. And did we stand we hear you say? Why yes for about 15 seconds. Collectively.

Canoa was a pretty sleepy town, not much going on, exactly what we needed after a month and a half in Quito, HOWEVER on the morning we arrived we went for a stroll along the beachfront (which didnt require much navigation as there were only two roads: one paved, one dust), we spotted one bar on the end of the beach that took the form of a wooden boat. Both of us were inspired, and that evening we headed straight there. As it turned out the boat bar, or Canoa´s Arc as we liked to call it, was THE hang out spot for all of Canoa´s 20 inhabitants. In spite of the towns sleepy facade, the boat bar was having none of it, and blared out reggaton and salsa BEATS from an enormous boom box. While this made conversation difficult, we begged to ask: who needs to talk when you can SALSA? And by god did we Salsa Blighty. Annoyingly being blonde gringos meant that we didnt really have a chance to do anything but salsa, and we were pretty much passed from person to person like a bag of PEANUTS between friends on a long bus journey. If we refused we were greeted with phrases such as: "Fucking bitches" (Merry Christmas to you too Asshole), and when our friend Jonny gallantly tried to protect us by claiming we were both his girlfriend, he was greeted with the retort "MY DICK´S YOUR GIRLFRIEND" (lucky). However, inspite of feeling slightly hunted, our stay in Canoa definitely improved our Salsa mooooves. We´ll happily take any of you for a quick spin when we return. You can thank us later amigos.

On the 30th we quit the town and headed to Montañita, the PARTY PLACE. Everyone we had met on our trip thus far was heading there for the party on New Years Eve. And the pace of the town was certainly very different. On arriving we met up with our friend Miriam and her friends from Austria, and she´d kindly booked us into a hostal. It turns out the only rooms left for us were at the bottom of the hostal and pretty much looked like caves: there was no light and no door handles. No Chevere. In hindsight it didnt really matter what the rooms looked like since we weren´t going to spend much time asleep. You know us, party ANIMALS. The beach was pretty hot, but all the action was kicking off in the cocktail bar lined streets of the town. Everyone was beautiful. Everyone was cool. (of course we felt we fitted right on in thurr). And everyone was there to party. And by Jove, party we did. NY EVE was spent raving on the beach admist huge fires, fireworks and thousands of revellers. As the clock struck 12 the town´s surfers paraded down to the beach to see the new year in on the waves (we decided to give it a miss this time...!). There were pockets of people singing their own national anthems and songs. The Peruvians were reallly giving it some with their rendition of "OLE OLE OLE OLE OLE OLE PERU, PERU". Sadly this ended up drowning out our pitiful attempt to belt out OLD LANG SYNE (geez we don´t even know how to spell it let alone sing it).

The next morning we woke up feeling like our heads had caved in, but, like the soldiers we are, we had to shake it off, deal with it and bloody well check out of our rooms. The next sequence of events are still rather confusing, so we´ll keep it brief. Some how we ended up in the back of a van that promised to take us to a quiet beach town 10 minutes away. It sounded like the perfect way to recover from the days before. And we´re sure it would have been. After checking out a few of said beach towns it was suddenly decided that we would drive 2 and a half hours away to ´the popular beach town of Salinas´. Our collective hangovers meant that none of us had the energy to question the decision, and within minutes we´d embarked on the Ruta del Sol road down the coast of Ecuador. Now we weren´t completely passive in this, we were offered at the other end, a cheap room with a kitchen and enough beds to sleep all five of us.

There was no kitchen. There were three beds. The built up Salinas was heaving with people. It turns out it is known as the ´Miami of the coast´. All of these things were essentially the opposite of what we were looking for. But, never fear, we had a blender. We´re not quite sure how but at one point we found ourselves eating lunch with a 20 strong Ecuadorian family. We have since decided that we were, in fact, kidnapped. One night in Salinas was definitely enough and the next day we got the hell on outta thurr, and headed right back up the Ruta del Sol to Puerto Lopez.

Close to the Parque National Machalilla, Puerto Lopez is a sleepy fishing town whose main purpose is to serve as a base for excursions to the wonders of the Park. Our first night wasnt great. Our hostel was riddled with cockroaches and smelt distinctly of urine. The pair of us ended up sharing the top bunk of a bed in order to avoid the perils of insects festering on the floor. But our misfortune stopped there, because the following day we discovered the JOYS of the Boobies. Not just one kind: there was the blue footed, there was the red footed, in fact a whole assortment of colours. The Boobies were to be found on Isla de la Plata dubbed as the ´Poor Man´s Galapagos´, in all honestly the name couldnt be more apt. This man was poor. Really poor. Aside from the boobies all we saw was a sea lion, that looked like he was still coming down from a heavy New Years. But, thankfully, the Boobie jokes didn´t get old (in fact they still haven´t) and we managed to have a good time on the Island.

The distinct lack of wildlife on the ´Poor Man´s Galapagos´ was definitely made up for by our visit to the jungle. An absolute, unchallenged, highlight of the trip. Another night bus journey to Lago Agrio, brought us to the edge of Ecuador´s Orient. From there we jumped into a canoe and travelled 2 and a half hours down an Amazon tributary to our jungle lodge deep in the Amazon basin. We spent four days and three nights here and had the times of our liiiiives. It is worth a mention that on arrival at the lodge the guide showing us to our cabins had an epileptic fit. We later found out that he had been bitten by a poisonous snake at the lodge. Geez. We´re woosy at the best of times. But seriously. Geez...

After chilling out at the lodge for a bit we were introduced to our guide for the trip, the formidable "Naicer". Now if you will, imagine a man born and raised in the jungle, with an impeccable eye for wild life (at one point he spotted the world´s smallest monkey from 300m away), and an infinite knowledge of the jungle´s ecosystem. Now times that by 100, and you´ll almost have our man Naicer. During the trip we saw among many things: piranhas (in fact we caught one), caimen (in fact we held one), tarantulas, scorpions spiders, a plethora of monkeys, parrots, sloths, fresh water dolphins, pencil fish (who looked incredibly embarrassed to be there at all. Pencils). We ate lemon ants, encountered four metre long caimens, got a whiff of the smelly turkey birds (seriously. that´s their name), and swam at dusk in the Amazon lakes. All the while being careful not to pee in the water because the vampire fish WILL swim up your penis (or V-JJ).One afternoon after reports of anaconda sightings (and yes we did crack at the old. "I´m looking for a Miss Conda. A Miss Ana Conda"), we headed on an anaconda hunting expedition. Naiser took it all very seriosly, machete in hand, HOWEVER one of his colleagues who we encountered, likewise leading his group on a similar search, could be seen sporting only a pair of electric blue speedos. And a machete. Indeed his entire group had followed suit and were running around the marsh land in the nuddy. In search of a 6 metre man eating snake. Jesus. Despite being submerged knee high in mud, we took one for the team, and took many photos of said speedos. In fact it was probs a better find than the Ana Conda would have been.

While Naiser was definitely a man of the wilderness, like many of the men we´ve encountered so far he was also, clearly, a man of DESIRE. I´m sure after reading this paragraph you will fully understand the title of this blog. While we were there Naiser made a film of the expedition, and on watching it, it quickly became apparent that it was actually just a film of Jo and Saskia in the jungle. One evening while awaiting for a boat to return with a torch we had lost (something we were very worried about as it was a vital piece of equipment in our candle lit room for checking the bed for tarantulas), Jo decided to mimic a frog that was causing a right racket down the river. Naiser subtly whipsered "You don´t need to call for a jungle mate. You have a jungle man already", suddenly we abandoned our search for the torch and ran. It later transpired that Saskia had left the torch in her boot anyway. Other classic Naiser-isms include:

"I mean, these warrior women, they chopped off their left volcanoes because they carried the weapons" and, "I mean, these vampire fish swim up women, especially when they have their monthly present¨", and OUR FAVE parting gift "I mean, bring your babies back to the jungle, or come back to make babies in the jungle with me". At this point our skin crawled, and suddenly we realised that there were things more fearsome in the jungle than the tarantulas. DUN DUN dunnn.

Never fear we bought the DVD of Jo and Sas in the jungle, and happily will screen it for all.

After a 30 minute panic station whereby we thought Saskia had lost her passport (in fact there was no way she had lost it. It had, in fact been stolen, while we slept in the room. And the reason that Jo´s was still there was because we´d woken while the robbers were doing their stealing and scared them off. Obviously), we are now preparing to head off to Columbia tomorrow (on somebody´s special 21st birthday!), since Saskia´s passport was in her washbag. Right next to Jo´s passport. Dick.

We already know we GOTS TO BE CAREFUL over thurr, but even more so now since a group of our friends have just returned from Calle with a mighty horror story. After trying to buy drugs they were arrested, and then bribed by corrupt police who were working with the drug dealer, and faced the choice of either Columbian jail or paying $3,000 each for the "poor children of Columbia" (MY ASS). They were escorted to a cashpoint and forced to take out the maximum daily allowance, which in one boy´s case was $1,500. SHIT. It was also one of the girl´s birthdays. DOUBLE SHIT. We suppose they´ve learnt a lesson, however expensive. (side note: read ´Marching Powder´ by Rusty Curtis a real life story about an English drug dealer locked away in San Pedro prison, La Paz, Bolivia. Gives a really good insight into police corruption in South America. Brilliant read).

Don´t worry parents we won´t be buying anything illegal. Ever. (again) JOKE.

Right we´ve got a lot to get along with before catching the flight. Picking up our laundry being of paramount concern. Hopefully nobody´s nicked our pants. We´ve heard many a tale about stolen undies...

Hasta Columbia nuestras amigos,

BESOS.

(And can we wish a Mr Matthew Stokoe a VERY FELIZ CUMPLEAÑOS for the 13th de Enero. Both send massive love. And then some).


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Comments

pjduncombe on

amazing!

KKay:-) on

Whereabouts did you stay in the jungle? I am currently planning a trip into the Amazon from Ecuador and this sounds amazing!!

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