This past weekend, Ronnie and I took a 4- hour trip to the jungle with some friends from the Embassy. There were 8 of us traveling in 3 cars. (Liz, her husband Adam, their 2 kids and Liz's parents who were in country from Texas.) We left Friday morning at 9 a.m. and returned on Sunday. The drive itself was very "off road", some of it was paved, but the roads had lots of turns through the mountains. We definitely broke in the SUV on the non-paved roads, but it held up well. We stayed at nice resort named "Hakuna Matata". It is way off the beaten path in the middle of nowhere. A couple from Belgium own it and have been running it for at least 7 years. The food was fantastic and the staff was so friendly. It was a great weekend! Here are some pictures:
Our caravan of cars on the way down:
We passed these waterfalls.
Before we actually reached the resort, we had to drive over the most scary bridge. Even Ronnie agreed that it was the scariest bridge he's ever driven over. It was basically a bunch of wood boards suspended over a a creek by metal cables. It was definitely a bit frightening. This is what the bridge looked like as we approached it:We finally reached the resort.
Our cabin was small, but very cozy. There was no A/C, but as hot as it was during the day,the nights were very comfortable.
There was a creek near the resort that we had lots of fun playing in:
On Saturday we woke up early, had breakfast, then met our guide for a full-day tour of the jungle. We hopped in a van and headed south. Our guide was REALLY knowledgeable on just about everything in the jungle. He pointed out all kinds of birds that he'd see way before anyone else, he knew about the customs, the culture and the people of the region. He himself, is from one of the small villages we passed. Our first stop was to a small shopping area. There are a few hotels in the small area and many years ago the owners had a pair of monkeys. Well, they escaped, mated and now there are about 65 monkey's living in the trees. They were so funny!
After stopping to see the monkeys, we drove a little further then got into a canoe. The canoe took us down river for about 10 minutes.
We parked the canoe along a grassy area, put on our rubber boots and went for a short hike. Our guide, Octavio, took us to a village. He showed us the how the schools and living areas were constructed built by the local people. The locals didn't speak Spanish, the spoke 'quechua', the language of the Inca Empire. It is the most widely spoken language of the indigenous people of the America's. Volleyball seems to pretty popular in Ecuador...even in the jungle, however, it seems they play a little differently and as short as the locals are, the nets are set much higher than in the States.
We were invited into a home where they served us a sample of 'chicha', a fermented corn drink. It wasn't very tasty, and after watching it being prepared I didn't expect to like it. I was brave enough to take a second sampling so we could get this picture.
After our hike we stopped for lunch. We had chicken, fish, onion soup, rice, plantains and beans. It was actually pretty good.
The second part of our tour took us to a museum set up by some of the local people. They mainly had items on display, such as, tools they used to fish and replicas of various traps used for hunting. We each got to try using a blow dart:
After the museum, we went to an animal rescue shelter. Veterinarian students from Sweden travel to the jungle for three months at a time to volunteer. They had all kinds of animals, toucans, turtles, monkeys...
On Sunday morning, before heading back to Quito, we saw these horses waiting near the creek. The rest of our group was going horseback riding, but because Ronnie's back has been bothering him we opted not to this time.
While on our tour through the jungle, we saw some beautiful butterflies. This one was resting near the creek at the resort.
The night before we left, it rained quite a bit. Because of the rain, some of the rods had been washed out with small mudslides. This is one of them where trees and debris covered part of the road.
Some other road obstacles we came across. (Ronnie said we had to wait for them to moooooove.)
We had a great weekend and made it home safely. Once we unloaded the car, we settled in to make lunch and watch football. Not long after Ronnie sat on the couch with his sandwich and I turned on the computer to start loading pictures, we both felt a little light headed and woozy. We then realized it wasn't us that was woozy, it was the building. We were experiencing a minor earthquake. I yelled for Ronnie as we both met at the front door. The swaying only lasted about 5-10 seconds, but was still pretty creepy. Hopefully we won' feel them any worse than that!