Three gringos in the jungle

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This year we decided to spend our holidays in Ecuador. It's impossible to see everything in two weeks time. That's why we tried to see as much as possible. Also a trip to the jungle had to be made. More or less short term Iooked for something nice in the internet and I got to a page of a language school in Ecuador --

Hoping that all would work I was really surprised getting an answer in German. David Zünd - a voluntary worker from Switzerland - was my contact person.  He arranged everything for us and made also the contact to the general manager Enrique Guzman.


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Finally the departure time arrived. Due to some problems with the booking process Chri's plane left already at 6 a.m. from Vienna to Frankfurt. Toni and followed at 8 a.m. From Frankfurt we flew on the same plane to Caracas in Venezuela. A bit stressed and confused we looked for the desks where we would get the tickets for our connection flight. Having arrived there they were already waiting for us. So we went on to the check-in because there had already been a call for the flight. We didn't care that much. From the right gate we were sent to another gate where the plane wasn't leaving as well. We had to wait quite a long time and got a free meal because the flight crew couldn't be found. Time passed and the appointment made with enrique had to be changed to the next day. Finally we could board the plane. Very tired we tried to fall asleep in the cold air plane. After arrival we had to pass the boarder controls. Exactly at midnight we managed to step out of the airport building. Ecuador!

The next day we met the General Manager of Sintaxis and talked about all the details of our tour. Then we said goodbye and drove to the old city of Quito by taxi. There we looke for something to eat first before exploring the city. Because it was Saturday the streets were crowded and streets market open. Lots of shoes t-shirts ans even fridges and washing machines (that were carried by a single man) could be bought. We also visited the Basilica del Voto Nacionale. This is an unfinished cathedral which stands up a hill in Quito from where one can enjoy an amazing view over the city. Through a window one can even see the virgin monument. It became more and more dark and we became hungry. "La Mariscal" is a small touristic centre in the city with several bars. So we went there to eat. Finally we became very sleepy and the bed in the "Hotel Cayman" was our last goal for this evening.  3 gringos _ 2.jpg
 3 gringos _ 3.jpg The next morning we packed our backpacks and took only a part of our luggage with us. Our bus to the jungle left at 11 p.m. The time until 11 p.m. we spent at "Mitad del Mundo", so at the equator line. There is a smal touristic center for all the tourists that want to take a walk on both halfs of the globe. The time there was pimped up by restaurants, bars and several performances of localy known artists. Well, we had a lot of time there. For lunch I tried a speciality from the north of Ecuador: "Cuy" - guinea pig. It was a new experience to eat something like this but overall it wasn't that bad. In the evening we returned to the city and went to a bar. We intended to spend the time drinking some beers but on Sundays there isn't any alcohol served in Ecuador. Finally it was time to get on the bus. 8 hours bus trip were in front of us. Sleeping was not that easy at all but we tried.
In the early morning the Bus arrived in "Lago Agrio" which was the meeting point for the start of the jungle tour. In a hotel we had breakfast and could refresh us a bit. After othe people of the jungle tour group had arrived one of our guides came to pick us up. We heard that we still have 2 hours of driving ahead before arriving to the real jungle. The bus drove including a stop caused by a military controlto the Cuyabeno National Reserve. After having a snack we drove in a boat 28km up the river to our jungle lodge. On the journey the group got to know the jungle very well. Plants, apes, fishes, dolphins and a lot more... We even couldn't manage it to make so many pictures and above all we wondered how our guide called Jairo could see all that. We as Austrians were in a group consisting of a couple from Australia, 2 swiss friends, one brothers and sisters and one single traveller from England. The boat captain was always waring his sunglasses (during night and day time) but he managed it to bring us from one point to the other.  3 gringos _ 4.jpg
 3 gringos _ 5.jpg Having arrived in the lodge we went to our rooms. Because they were built very naturally it can happen that sometimes there is a frog or a spider in the shower. But don't worry! It's not usual and they are not poisonous. Then we drove on the lagoon where we could observe some dolphins. Afterwards we took a swim in the nice river and it was amazing. When we returned to our lodge in the evening our guide showed us a snake in the darkness. Dinner was served in the open dining-hall. It was always very good. There were several groups and every group had its own guide. We all went to bed quite early because we were really tired after those tiring long days. While sleeping we were protected by a mosquito net. The climate was really humid and warm.
The next morning, the next adventure. A jungle walk was planned. With rubber boots and rain coats we were set out in the deepest jungle. Jairo went ahead and explained us the development of the plants and trees. We saw also some jaguar tracks on the humid ground.The benefit of some plants and animals were explained for example ants as a natural mosquito protection or bark against fever. A ride on liana is couldn't be omitted as well. The walk continued through a small everglade which was harder to cross than we had thought. We were lucky that our boots were high enough to prevent the water and the mud from getting in. But some of us couldn't keep the balance and fell to the ground. That also happened in our groupe. In the rain forest we didn't even notice that it was raining pretty heavy. But when we came out of the forest we noticed and put on some rain coats.  3 gringos _ 6.jpg
 3 gringos _ 7.jpg  The atmosphere wasn't bad at all despite the rain because afterwards we went fishing some piranhas. Rain stopped but we weren't that lucky in fishing and instead of fishing we more or less only feeded the piranhas. The few piranhas we caught we had to throw back into the water again. It became dark and we prepared us for the night walk in the jungle. Equipped with pocket lamps we walked one behind the other into the jungle. Several never seen beatles and spiders we could see more or less early. The Australian guy was even so courageous to let a spider sit on his face. The walk went on across the jungle accompanied by strange noises. With respect and a bit afraid we went on until Jairo discovered something that made us hush. There was a banana spider sitting 2 meters away from us. This is one of the most dangerous spiders worldwide. After taking several pictures we finished the night walk and drove back to the camp where we found a Cayman in the middle of the lodge. There was also a tarantula walking around and some very courageous guys took it from the ground. (Tarantulas feel some kind of fluffy.) After diner we spent some time sitting together before everybody went to sleep.
The next morning we drove to a village of native people some km away from the lodge in even deeper jungle. After arriving we first tried to hit a fruit with a very big blast pipe and played with the ape (pet) called "Nacho". Unsuccesful we followed a inhabitant which showed us how they make bread. After harvesting a root she cleaned it in the bakehouse which was a cottage with 4 not airtight walls made out of wood. The root was brayed and the juice was squeezed into a jar (with this juice later they prepare a soup). The rest was baked without any other ingredients over the open fire and then tried with jam or  tuna and wow: it was just great! After this snack we left the village. On the river we ate the food we took with us from the lodge.  3 gringos _ 8.jpg
 3 gringos _ 9.jpg  The trip continued to another village where our guide Jairo had grown up. There we should have been meeting a shaman. Because it was a bit crowded we had to wait some minutes. Then we could meet him. We stepped without shoes into a room where he was waiting for us. Jairo translated the biography of the shaman to the groupe. Then he wanted to show as a ritual. He showed it with a Swiss lady. She was aloud to sit in front of him and he took away all the bad energy she had inside her. He said that maybe she will be really tired afterwards (back in the lodge she first went to sleep a bit).

 Afterwards we returned to our lodge. After diner we went for a swim again and could enjoy the amazing sunset. We spent the last evening together drinking some drinks and enjoying the time. Just before we went to sleep Jairo told us that the next morning we will observe birds. After a short night we met pretty early in the morning at the boat. We could see several birds and we also met some small apes that we usually saw every day. It was a nice, unforgettable time which passed really fast. These impressions are just unforgettable. After a boat ride back to the street in the Cuyabeno Park we put our luggage into the bus and drove back to Lago Agrio where we took another bus to Quito accompanied by some others of our jungle groupe. After passing 2 military and police controls we arrived earlier than we thought in Quito and walked back to our hotel. After puting everything into the rooms we went to eat something. Afterwards we went to bed where we began to dream about the jungle experience we had made...

At this point I want to thank (in my name but also in the name of my friends) the Samona Team especially our tour guide Jairo. And also many thanks to the really good kitchen team in the lodge. Anyway, the biggest thank goes to David Zünd and Enrique Guzman from Sintaxis. They organized the trip to the jungle and made it possible for us to get to know the amazing Cuyabeno National Reserve. Thank you so much, it was really great!

(If you would like to know how it continues with the "three gringos" you can read on on our homepage

Josef Handler

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