Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ay, Qué Tiempo!

Sorry to leave you guys hanging for so long, unfortunately we spent the last few weeks out of touch with western civilization, oh you know, just canoeing around the amazon, strolling along cobblestone streets of Cuenca, basking under the midday ecuadorian coastal sun and riding a crap load of busses (and, consequently, downing the Bonine). We covered some serious ground since you've last heard from us, so i'll try to make this post as short and sweet as possible.

Chapter 1: The Amazon
Would you care to hear the epiphany I had while canoeing down the meandering Napo river through Haorani territory of the Ecuadorian amazon? Squatted low in the hollowed out log, gazing up at the dense foliage I had a distinct feeling of familiarity. Deja vu? A dream perhaps? No, I realized at that moment that the lazy river of Walt Disney World's Typhoon Lagoon was a total rip off of the Amazon! You know I felt right at home though, i felt like around the next bend i might see Mickey or Goofey waving as we floated by. It was a pleasant momentary daydream until we arrived at camp, drenched from the waterlogged boat and already covered in bug bites. Moments later, the second boat of classmates showed up with a tree monkey they had captured. They tied it to a pole and it stayed there screaming the whole weekend. Aayaya! For the most part the weekend was relatively enjoyable, we had a chance to get to know the everday happenings of a Haorani family, which mostly involved trecking waist deep through dense mud of the Amazon in search of food. We ate mostly normal stuff, a lot of yuca, some fish, soups, platanos (plantains), etc. All cooked in delicious brown river water!! (More to come regarding this issue...) One day we hiked through the mucky, merky dense mud of the Amazon (so eloquently referred to by Laura as "Mother Nature's Vagina") in search of a good fishing spot. On our trek it poured like i've never known rain to pour before, i got stung by a wasp in the forehead (which later resulted in my eyes swelling shut in a more comical than not sort of way), we snacked on cacao seeds picked straight from the tree (the fruit that chocolate is made from), we got lost, and finally after hours of rubbing our ankels raw in muddy wet rainboots we arrived at the river, only to be informed by our naked Haorani guide that we couldn't fish because the rain had flooded the river. GREAT. so we walked back with our honorable war wounds, half starved. That is sort of a good overview of what the weekend was like. We also spent alot of time swimming in the brown river, baking on the banks, getting rained on, getting bug bites, and eating yuca. One night the Haorani even did a mock wedding ceremony which was pretty sweet, some of our classmates broke out their guitars and kept us entertained as well. I'd say the lowlight was the final day when the river was too low to canoe back to the road and so we hiked, in our travel home clothing, waist deep, through rivers, mud, and the freaking amazon rain forest! It was mostly a disaster. My boots were filled with river water, my feet stank by the end, i was disgusting and muddy and sweaty and i have never seen a group of people with worse hair. Honestly. Three days without bathing in the Amazon does something crazy to your hair. In the end, despite the nasty treks, bug bites, soaking wet clothing, etc. I was pretty gald i'd done it. I mean how many people can say they hiked through the freaking Amazon? Not too many.

Now back to cooking with the river water: one by one the gringos went down like flies. One classmate started puking before we even left. Two others on the bus ride home. And the rest of the gringos (sans Kelsey and I, though I have no clue how we were saved) were hospitalized with relentless vomiting, explosive diarrhea and dehydration. That's right, when I showed up at school on monday I was one of two gringos in our class who wasn't in the hospital. Hollllerrrrr.

Ok, Chapter 2 will be spring break, i'll give you a quick preview and post about that later this week:
Mindo-zip lining and tubing
Cuenca - Pretty churches
Ingapirca - incan Ruins
Riobamba - Awesome cultural festivals to celebrate una batalla de independencia.

k thats all for now <3 <3 <3

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