Cuyabeno Reserve, Ecuador... First day in the Jungle
Apr 19, 2005
|We arrived at Cuyabeno punctually at 9:30am, a full 12 hours later. I have been blinking back the dopiness which I have been trying to shake off for the past hour. Well, the conductor dutifully remembered to let us off at the Cuyabeno Bridge, the entrance to the Cuyabeno Reserve.
There we were met by our guide for the next four days, Pablo, originally from Quito, but has been working in the Reserve for the past nine, ten years. We were told by Andres the previous night that Pablo was "gaupo" (fit -UK, cute - USA ). Well, he may not be, but he was always full of kindness, always addressing us as "my friends".
We waited at the the entrance for a good hour, for the canoe boat, which took the Dutch girls to the camp site earlier to come back. Whilst Iris was enjoying the taste of chicharron (fried pork fat - yuk!), chatted with Luis, who worked at the office. Oh yeah, presented my OTEC letter which verified my voluntary work in Tárcoles (cunningly missing out the important factor of it being in Costa Rica, not Ecuador) as an attempt to get a discount on the $20 entrance fee. But no, it couldn't even get past Pablo's stage. Oh well.
When the canoe finally arrived, it also brought with it two Australian ladies (who just finished the tour) and our lunches. A very good combination to find out what to expect ahead! Yes, the food was very good.
It took two hours for the motor boat to arrive at the camp site. Iris enjoyed it tremendously and was excited about finally going into the jungle. She probably enjoyed the views even more, as I was occupied talking to a returning Native man with his two year old daughter to visit his family. Sami would be pleased at the number of Spanish conversations I have had since arrriving at Ecuador! As the boat sped past a bush, I even spotted a poisonous snake, sunbathing itself on the top of the bush. My first snake!! And I didn't even fall out of the boat in terror! Other animals to greet us included saki monkeys and squirrel monkeys.
Our campsite, and also jungle home for the next few days was a tidiy built place, with a raised wooden path from the dock to all the different huts. The huts were built Indian style, wall-less, raised on stilts and complete with palm leaves roof. That was the main appeal to my choosing this company. We were to share a hut with the other guests, each sleeping in our mosquito netted beds. There was also another hut lined with hammocks for us to put up our weary feet. The bathrooms were also neat, and clean. Of course, there would be no hot showers, as the water was piped by the containers collecting rain water on the roof.
Next, our fellow jungle adventurers. Anne-Marie, a home care nurse from Canada; Monsey, a Swiss-German born Spanish who could help me out with any forgotten German vocabulary (many); Irene and Deanette, two Dutch friends of many years, learning Spanish in Peru and venturing northwards to Ecuador, - successfully making the 7pm bus; and last but not least, Marleen, also from Holland, learning Spanish in Quito and using it to travel around Ecuador and Peru.
After showering and another quick bite to eat, we put on our rubber boots for our first walk around the jungle. It lasted only an hour and a bit, but Pablo patiently pointed out many plants and insects of interest to us. There were a few fallen trees to navigate, but on the whole, it was pretty easy. Although we lost Monsey and Marlene towards the end, as they were busily snapping away evidence of the jungle on their cameras.
The river was offered to us to wash away the sweats and pains of jungle trekking. Only Irene, Iris and I were up for it, and we tested out the inviting swing to splash into the river. Pablo joined us shortly after, offering to help us with the swing. After a few modicfications, we waited for him to swing in too. We waited some long long minutes, not swimming to keep the way clear and slowly feeling colder and colder. Once the swing was securely fastened to a satisfied state, he announced he would test it out tomorrow. Grrr!!
Possibly due to the natural rain water in the river (also deliciously brown in colour), or some bug spray accidently getting into her eyes, both of Iriss eyes swelled up so bad, she had to abandon the night walk in the jungle. So I went with Pablo, Monsey, Marlene and Ann-Marie and am pleased to say my newly purchased 49 cents torch can cast a beam all the way up a 30m tree! We spotted many insects, and was shown some leaves which close for the night. Upon arriving back at the camp site, we searched for frogs, which could ususally be found in the plantation, but to no avail...
Nevermind, a cup of tea with the girls was nice, before retiring to my bed for some serious reading of "The Woman in White" by torchlight. Just as got to the most exciting part, Iris called out for me to "turn the light off!!", which I obediently did. She told me the next morning, she had no recollection of it!! Oh well!!