Gator, pirhana and anaconda swimming!

Trip Start Jan 10, 2010
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Trip End Dec 16, 2010


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Where I stayed
Amazon somewhere!
Samona Lodge

Flag of Ecuador  , Sucumbios,
Saturday, January 30, 2010

Wow what a week!!

Itīs going to take me ages to write about it so if you get bored reading, tough titties!

24th Jan Sunday

Today we left for the Amazon, but not till 11pm, so I had a lovely potter day (as dad would say)! Met Fran for beer around 8.30pm but only one as didnīt want to be peeing all night on the 8 hour bus journey, headed to bus stastion to meet Jenn.  Saw some black guys playing cards on the suitcases, two were wearing white wollen caps, the looked quite cool and notice me watching them, so spoke to me.  Jenn said what did they say I replied, "I have no idea!"  but clearly looked like I did!  We all wanted to secretly join.  The bus station was tiny, big enough for maybe 3 buses but somehow they manages to squeeze 6 in, but kept having to jig them about as that meant you couldnīt get to the luggage down below!  Idiots!  I went to look at the front of one of the buses to check the destinatiohn on the front, I was looking for Lago Ario, but could only see the top of the letters becuase of where I was stood, and I could make out an E an S an M another E and so on until I realises it was the name of the bus company, ESMERELDAS.  How stupid did I feel!
So the bus journey, typically, really cold, then really hot.  8 hours later we arrive at 6.30am in sweltering heat in Lago Agrio, and we head straight for hotel where then next bus is supposed to be picking us up from in 3 hours.  Jenn spots some plastic sunbeds by a pool, there are only 4 of them, we head staright to them, lie them flat and promptly pass out for 2 hours!
Our bus and guide arrived and gave us an intro and said what we needed etc as this was the last place we could buy anything, so I went for diet coke as I was pleased to hear they had beer on sale at the camp site! So we (Jenn Fran me and some others that were on the bus from Quito with us) leave on bus at 9.30am to pick more people up from airport, (the nicer way to travel) as their plane was due in at 10am.  It didnīt arrive till 11am, so we waited almost an hour and a half, suring which time Jenn and I try to find some shade and start chatting to a taxi driver.  His name was Jesus and he was joking with us as to why we werenīt married, and could he marry us!  Thereīs a surprise!  So we ask him if he is married and he said he was but she died 3 years ago of a brain tumor, and as Jenn is sat on the ground next to him she canīt see his face, I am sat oppostie and I see him well up in the eyes and his lip start quivering and other thn say lo siento I quickly and desparately try to change the subject.  That was unexpected!  We cheer when the plane and people finally arrive and am I pleased they did.  Everyone was really lovely on the trip, but in particular a couple called Luu and Namhau were just the nicest, generous, caring and funny people you could wish to meet.  Everyone loved them!
So back on the bus to the Amazon, another 2 hour bus journey to catch a canoe to go yet deeper into the jungle, first stopping for lunch, (rice and beans and something that looks like chicken but I have chosehn to go veggie!).  Our guide Juan on the bus explains a little more about what we will be doing.  Heīs 26, Jenn and Fran find him good looking and I guess he was too, but he is really serious and not at all happy about us laughing!  But when board the canoe he takes his hat off and shows his side profile, and doesnīt look quite so good, so I said to Jenn that heīd have to leave his hat on in bed!  Boat journey is another 4 hours (due to low levels of river about 2 meters lower than in wet season), after an 8 hour bus journey from Quito, 5 hours waiting and 2 on another bus!  Thatīs pretty much a day travelling!  So towards the end I start to get a bit bored and ask Fran and Jenn to play a game, as we only see a few Monkeys, a bird or two, a Caiman and an Anaconda.  Trust me, thatīs not much in 4 hours!  About 30 mins into the journey by canoe Jenn (as usual) decides she needs to pee, but doesnīt want to get out the boat and into the jungle on her own, so I agree to go with her after seeing the anaconda!  The other 12 in the group just listen to me and Jenn taking a piss in the bush, lovely way to meet new people!  I mention to Jenn that a) we are peeing in the Amazon jungle and b) wonder how many insects Iīm killing at that moment.  So we decide (ok I decide) that we have to point out phallic looking fauna, there really is quite a lot! Help the time pass.
Juan is making animal noises (we later realise the only noise he makes apparently), and Jenn is rapidly going off him! So she says...more on that later!
Arrived at Samona Lodge, the three amigas get a thre bed room, bunk beds and a single.  Fran get the top as sheīs youngest, obviously!  We ge fitted with wellies and are told to meet in the dinning hut for our night walk before dinner.
S off on a night walk and head torches are great except when you go deep into a dense jungle and donīt want every flying insects in your face!  I would never have done this in the UK with no deadly flora, insects and fauna, but here I even manage to hold a firefly, itīs head clicks really loudly and quite violently too.  We then get picked up in a canoe and saw another spotted caiman.  The black caiman is the biggest at about 6 meters long.  Back to lodge for dinner.  Food really very good and I ate the best ever the whole time since Iīve been in Ecuador.  Saying vegetarian was a good choice though!  So the roof to the lodges and huts are all thatched and living in the thatch are tarantula.  I am suprise at how much I donīt seem to care!  I guess when in Rome and all that!
Juan wanted to give us or lesson about where we were and what we had seen, but everyone was just falling asleep, so not sure I got much out of it.  The after dinner speech is always a killer!  So straight to bed with mozzie net, we had been told that there wasnīt malaria there so didnīt need to take the drugs, but chose to stay on them for the trip but will probably stop taking them soon as donīt seem to need them.  You can hear everything in the other rooms and it really qas quite funny listenin to other peoples conversations!  However, later on youīll see it wasnīt all good!

26th Jan Tuesday
So we get up at 7am, brekkie at 8am, I get extra eggs as itīs bread, pancakes, bread or pancakes!  And thereīs tabasco sauce!!!!  Yeah, spicy food finally!  I end up having it with EVRYTHING including breakfast!  Meant to go for a 4 hour walk in the jungle so we board a canoe to the lagoon, but due to the fact the lagoon is quite empty, we have to walk or rather wade through mud for an hour to get us to the start of the trek!  Seriously muddy!  It becomes evident that due to the fact the water levels must change quite a lot, the route to the start of the trek is guided but our guides on a whim, clearly no plan what so ever!  Our other guide by the way is (we later find out) called Duber, I think Juan said Dooper, which reminds me of (ready Dad!) Super Dooper Pooper Scooper, and thus his name becomes Super Dooper Pooper Scooper for he rest of the trip! So the wading through march land and bogs is very adventurous, messy and funny, as you can see on some of the photos.  We all at some point get stuck, fall or in Jenns case lose a welly!  I find the most effective is to do lots of short quick steps to avoid sinkin, others disagree, but funny regardless!
By this time Jenn and I now have a bet on as to who can make Juan the oh so serious guide laugh first.  As Jenn managed to get stuck or fall the most I think the prize went to her.  The mud was over welly height in certain areas and the jungle trek is cut short due to time and darkness, and we have to take a  īshort cutī.  Again, clearly off the beatehn track and into jungle for real again!  We get back to find that Supr Dooper Pooper Scooper (SDPS)has managed to catch some fish with his knife and I go straight to him wanting a photo to make i look like Iīd done it!  It starts to rain, and really hammer it down and so we just take a direct route back to canoe, which means wading though mud and muddy water up to and over my shorts.  We are all drenched now anyway so what the hey, we board the boat covered in mud and I see SDPS in the lagoon so a few of us decide to join him.  Only after some have already reached the ground are we told not to stand on the muddy bottom due to the fact thatīs where anacondas live! Juan strips off and suprises us all with bright blue speedos!
Lunch back at lodge, much needed.  Legs sore from rubber and mud burns from the wellies, (donīt know how people like to have a fettish about rubber!) Jennīs legs were really bad, she tried every ointment going, but Namhau came to the rescue.
In the avo we went fishing, in the exact same spot as we went for a swim ealrier in the morning.  Fran caught a cat fish, SDPS caught shed loads of pirhanas, this was when Fran and I realised what we had been swimming with (Jenn chickened out!).  We caught around 15 fish in total by the end.  We then went for more mud walks, Iīm now starting to run out of clothes as only took one pair of trousers and one pair of shorts (which are no wet and donīt apparently dry in the jungle!) and only two tops, one of which is also wet!  (Iīll take more clithes next time).  We were looking for caiman but only see a dead one about 4 meters long and some littler ones. Fish for dinner (I shared mine with Jenn as requested that I will eat fish, more tabasco again and a few beers.  John leant me his charger for my camera again, thank goodness!  Ate our dinner with tarantula over our heads!

Sat with Jenn earlier today writing journal and she gets all huffy cos Juan isīspending lots of time with another girl from our group!  She leaves a day earlier than Fran Jenn and I, so still time for her!

27th Jan
Led in bed last night listening to thunder, insects and other wild noises.  Needed to pinch myself to remember where I was!
Alarm went off at 6.15am as I wanted to see a sunrise, asked Fran to check the weather, cloudy so went back to sleep till 7 ish, when we were awoken by a man in the room above us taking the longest loudest most disgusting shit I have ever heard!  Fran and I discussed it later, but I honestly thought heīd blown the toilet away.  And yes boys it was a bloke, I saw him leave!!!
Got in boat to go for another walk in jungle.  Much denser this time, and soo much hotter and more humid, canīt possibly wear long sleeves here, so strappy top for me for pretty much the whole time!.  Saw monkey and birds en route.  Saw parakeets and was taught some plants that could help with illness.  Juan demonstrated about the sap of a tree that could stop beeding by taking out his penknife and getting some sap from the tree, then promptly cut himself.  Had it just bee a small cut I would havethought it was a joke, but as there was loads of blood and quite a nasty cut, it was clearly not for show.  It was at this point we realised that he didnīt have a first aid kit.  One of the people in the group did luckily, and Iīm still not sure the tree sap worked as well as a bandage!  Juan goes off track again, deep dense forest, eally hot and sweaty, and we see more flore and a big big tree.  Time for photos, Juan thinks of himself as a bit of a photographer and insists on taking everyones photos with their cameras.  On this trek we eat lemon ants, live and yes they do taste of lemons, fruit and mushrooms.  Also see some massive ants that are poisonous.
Later on we went to a local village, and met a Shaman, native witch doctor, who as far as I can tell, get high on drugs, reckons he can see the future, says some mumbo jumbo, cast the odd evil spell or attempts to heal people of illnesses, but if they are really sick, tells them to go to the hospital.  OK, so maybe not my thing, mut Luu has a demonstration done, which is basically the same but without the drugs!
We then go to another little village (175 people in totoal in the nearby villages), Juan tells us he was brought up in one of them, and I pull up a Yuca plant, which we then peel, grate, squeeze liquid from, sieve, lay on hot pan type then cook and it turns out a bit like a pitta bread.  Really very tasty with a bit of jam!  Even if it does look....yep phallic before being grated obviously!

Back to camp for much needed shower, water obviously straight from the river so still stinky but at least not sweaty!  Now have no dry clothes left except for my night shirt, so knickers and my nightshirt it is for my dinner dress tonight! 

Easrly to bed, need to be up at 6am.

28th Jan
Ok getting bored myself now, might have to resort to bullet points

Early morning canoe ride (I think), last one with all 12 of the group as 6 are about to leave today.  Saw monkeys and birds.  After brekkie (more tabasco, also really good in soup btw), said bye to the 6 that were leaving and we headed out in a paddle canoe this time.  So just Luu, Namhau, Jenn, Andrew, Fran and me left.  All in canoe, start to row, but soon come across trees in out way, so for he next hour we spend more time out of the canoe pushing and lifting it over obstacles than actually rowing.  Really funny watching Andrew sink deeper and deeper into the mud, leaves and shit again!  I pretend to do swing from the trees.  We then see a sting ray and a Tocan.
Lunch then  another forest walk.  Today is the hottest of the lot and I remember that I have a pair of waterproof trousers, but nothing to wear under them!  Umm, sticky sweaty legs in waterporrf trousers is not advisable, but as this is all I have, I have no choice!  And guess what, off beaten track again.  Juan takes his trekking very seriously!  What makes us all laugh is tat Juan tells us to not touch anything, but as we are basically walking through untrodden jungle it is absolutely impossible not too.  I get a cobweb, the stickest I have ever come across stuck to my arm, (Kev, more than in Oz!) and have more cuts and scratches than ever.    We eat more jungle fruit mushrooms and insects.  See a frog ot two too.
Then we get back in Canoe to go see sunset and go fishing again.  The sunset is fabulous, it so tranquil and wonderful.  I catch a dog fish, I think Fran has a photo of me with it, and there is also a full moon.  SDPS catches a tiny one and a bigger fish, and Jenn then starts rumours about me liking SDPS, very childish but very amusing,  clearly called him Super Dooper Pooper Scooper doesnīt put him off!  Juan finds this funny - at last a smile, or grimace anyway.  Heīs also shocked that I am 37 and says I act like Iīm 17!  We ctach the boat back to camp and on the way in the dark we see a caiman at least 5 meters in length in the river.  The black Caiman.  Jen and I share a seat on the boat and it is literally only a meter away from us, Jen on the nearest side to it.  Then Juan insists on taking a million photos with everyones camera, but he seems to fail with mine, and we are getting more and more anxious as the flashes from the cameras are constant.  Andrew has his hand out the boat holding onto a branch to stop the boat moving.  Itīs only later that Juan tells us they donīt attack humans.  Thereīs always a first time right?  So after about 10 minutes of flashing we leave, and breathe a sigh of relief and Jen can finally stop sitting on my lap!
In the evening Namhau teaches me soe Taichi and Yoga, and I promise to get up at 7am to do more in the morning.  Later that night we all sit together and play drinking games, one of which is called killer, but whether we tell Juan in english or spanish it takes about 10 goes before he understand.  SDPS only speaks spanish and another guide call William is also with us.  Other games milon y melon, we also look a the moon through a telescope.  Conversation is rather crude, (my bad!) but very funny trying to explain these things in spanish!  Fran and I go to bed about 2am, Jenn doesnīt turn in till 3am, after spending time with Juan in his room!

29th Jan, travel back to Quito day
So back on bus 2hours to drop people off at airport, my guts killing me from 4 days of tabasco!  I run into the airport after a painful 2 hour bus journey to airport, and have a wonderful poo!  Itīs now 2.25pm, and Jenn decides to take the plane back to Quito, but Fran doesnīt want to.  I donīt want to leave her on her own so agree to take the bus back anyway.  She no longer has any cash left, so I have to sub her.  Iīm running low but at least I should have enough for bus trip for the both of us and have my cash card, but am told at airport that the next bus is 2.40pm and if we donīt catch it we have to hang around till 9.30pm.  So back on bus, it drops us off where they tell us we can catch the bus to Quito, itīs now 2.35pm and they tell us that we are only at the ticket office and need to take a cab 5 minutes away to the bus statio.  I am now concerned we have little cash left if I have to also pay for a cab, and no water for an 8 hour bus journey, but we decide to go for it anyway, and somehow make it!  Fran gets tickets, I get water we run and catch the bus, and are we pleased we did.  The view and journey was just awesome.  The Andes are so beautiful.  A daylight bus journey really is the way to go.  We should arrive by 11pm which would mean weīd get a proper nights kip, but in fact we manage somehow to get back for about 9.30pm and we manage to just about afford a taxi home from bus station.  We did get stopped a few times ahnd search, passport details taken, but what I found most odd, was that most people got off the bus at the checkpoints, walk across the barrier about 100ft from bus, waited, bus pulled up to them and they got back on.  Have no idea what that was all about.  I needed a pee half way through journey, but thye loo was locked, so I asked the blokoe on the bus is he could open it, he gets a screw driver out and after 5 minutes of trying to jummy the lock, still doesnīt manage to open it.  I hold it in for another hour before we stop at another checkpoint, but I ignore all the police and army guy and run straight for the loo!

30th Jan
So back in Quito, still alove and kicking, potter day today, and off out for Sushi with Fran Jenn Luu and Lamhau.  Great times had by all!

Miss you all xxx
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penfold on

looking good :) xx

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