All that was forgotten and forgiven when I arrived at Samona lodge as itīs one of the most tranquil places iīve visited... a whole week in a lodge housing about only 30 tourists and staff, no electricity or noise, just the sounds of the birds and monkeys to wake me up every morning!
The lodge is in the amazon basin, along one of the rivers feeding into the start of the amazon, so I managed to see lots of amazon wildlife along the way. Every afternoon I went out to the Laguna Grande to watch the sunset, where you could jump in and swim as long as you forgot about the caiman, pirhana and anaconda that lived there, normally followed by a candelit dinner in our restaurant which we shared with tarantulas who live in the roof, and some card games over a few beers.
The first day I was there we went out hunting through the flooded forests for the poisonous red tree dart frog which involved wading through thigh high muddy swamps. Finally found him after a couple of hours, along with lots of other species of spiders and toads and frogs.
The next evening we went back to do a night walk through the forest which was amazing, everything changes when itīs dark and the size of the insects that come out to play is incredible... grasshoppers the size of my hand and spiders that cover your whole face... not somewhere you want to go getting lost on your own!
Later in the week I also went to visit the local tribe where only 200 are left, and met with their Shaman who performed a short ritual to rid me of the bad spirits.
Thankfully I didnīt volunteer for the next ritual to banish the spirits, as this involved being whipped with some very vicious looking stinging nettles for 5 minutes whilst he chanted... the after effects did not look pleasant and the guy who did volunteer ended up getting ill the next day so not really sure it helped anyway!!
In the tribe village I then learnt how to make pancakes from yucca the local way, and made friends with a very cute pygme marmoset who was happyily nestled up in my neck scarf and I was all set to kidnap up until the point he peed on my shoulder and then tried to steal my freshly made pancake!
The rest of the week was filled up with lots of wildlife spotting, paddling dug out canoes accross the enchanted lakes, caiman spotting, tarantula hunting and pirhana fishing.
I canīt remember absolutely everything that I saw there, but the ones i do remember include sloth, noisy night monkeys, red howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys,
woolly monkeys, bats, electric blue butterflies, frogs and toads, tarantulas, scorpion spider, capuchino spider, wolf spider, pink
river dolphins, anaconda (up to 4m long!), giant cockroach and grasshoppers, cecadas,
preying mantis, wetters the size of my hand, stick insects, stinky turkey
birds, toucans, parrots, vultures... and lots of other creatures I have no idea what they are called!!
It would have been very easy to stay a few more days, but, the next adventure awaits.... Galapagos island hopping!!!
So I got set for a week in the jungle thinking travelling by night bus would be a good idea, saving a nights accomodation and sleeping through the 8 hour bus journey from Quito to Lago Agrio where I would then have to take another bus for an hour and a 2 hour boat trip by motorised canoe to get to my lodge... how wrong was I?!?! The bus route turned out be the long way round (the alternative was a 20 minute flight which cost 10 times as much) and went up and down mountains and round hair pin bends at break neck speeds which didnīt allow you to stay in the seats without hanging on for dear life let alone try and get any sleep, however the driver did manage to get us there an whole hour earlier! ;o)