From David and Molly: In an attempt to remember all that happened leading up to today (starting from Baños, where we went from Rosa Elvira), we outsourced a blog posting to the students this evening as we are back in Tena with internet connection. The students are excited to share everything that has happened!! We, as leaders, are thrilled with the continued enthusiasm from the group. While the days are packed, they go by quickly and no one can believe we are in August!
From the participants:
We enjoyed an amazing time in Baños and were pleasantly surprised when we arrived to an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, massages, public computers, hot showers and delicious breakfasts. The first morning Jake and Sid decided to go swimming in the ice cold pool at 6 AM and woke the entire hotel with their splashes before being politely escorted from the pool by the manager. Nothing to worry about, harmless fun! We all then proceeded to eat a massive mouthwatering breakfast of French toast, pancakes, hot chocolate, and eggs. After we went to a huge waterfall where we had to crawl up a very slippery walk to stand underneath it. The rest of the day was spent relaxing enjoying the Jacuzzi.
Day two at Baños was spent visiting the Hot Springs. We swam for a couple of hours wearing stylish hairnets and then went shopping to buy presents for our wonderful families and good food to snack on. We were all incredibly excited to find more Golden Oreos and Nutella.
Baños was a good getaway for us all after challenging but rewarding experience in Rosa Elvira. We are all excited to hang out together during the last couple days of our trip.
We arrived in Misahualli and then took a walk around the town to the river. After dinner everybody hung out and then went to bed. The next morning the group had breakfast and went to the center of town to feed the monkeys. We gave them raw eggs and oranges to snack on. We got on the motorized canoe and took a gorgeous one hour ride down the Napo River.
We got off at the river bank and went on a trek through the jungle; our guide (Ricardo) talked to us about many species of plants and animals that call it home and how the tribal people use them. Ricardo tested us with difficult questions about certain species in order to single out the eight people who would be treated by the shaman next day. We ate citrus ants and tasted paralyzing juice from the curare plant. We arrived at the campsite and had an amazing lunch; the dirty and sweaty group took a dip in the refreshing water then recovered for a traditional Ecuadorian game. We had to hit the ball into the goal with a carrot dangling from a string tied to our waist. The group relaxed in the hammocks and the rooms until a candlelight dinner. The next activity of the night was a walk into a dark inspecting all the spiders, beetles, crickets, moths, and snakes that come out in the dark. The group said good night and went to bed.
After a day of hiking in the rain forest we woke up had very good pancakes and went by boat up river to visit a shaman. (On the walk) We learned about how different types of plants and species of animals can be used to heal people’s maladies. The Shaman performed a short ritual involving tobacco smoke and the palmleaf brush with a couple of people from the group who he sensed needed healing. It was an interesting experience for all. After returning we had lunch and during the flash downpour we started a slippery muddy soccer game. Then we swam in the rain before learning to pan for gold. Ricardo then helped us make very rich and flavorful 90% dark chocolate from scratch. We had a delicious snack of bananas and cookies and chocolate fondue before relaxing in front of a very well-built bonfire constructed by Domingo. We fell asleep to the deafening sound of another surprise downpour on the tin roof.
A group of us then woke up at 6:25 to swim for final time before breakfast on Thursday we took along the beautiful boat ride to a kichwa village where we had full fish and chicken, all eaten with our fingers. Ana, Nora, and Lauren ate fish eyes and then we danced a traditional kichwa dance before some of us held a boa constrictor, cayman, and monkey (the monkey peed on Jacob!). We are all sad to leave the Campamento and our beloved rain-boots behind but arrived in Tena excited for a day of rafting.