Amazon. Serious bucket list right?
Well, I got a tiny, itsy bitsy taste of it during my Friendly Planet Tour to Ecuador and I was smitten.
We arrived to the Amazon Jungle by small canoes eager and excited. This Amazon tributary, the Napo River, was vast – more café than blue.
Surprisingly we arrived when the hotel was showered in sunshine instead of the usual showers of the rain forest.
We stood by the pool, giggles from splashing children as our chorus, looking down in amazement.
We were standing above the Amazon. The freaking Amazon. Woo hoo!
The hotel had a poolside buffet, requisite tropical drinks, and tropical flowers galore.
The vacation vibe of the pool was not what drew me in however, it was the adventure. Per the usual..
We took a soggy boat ride down the river.
We slipped and slid in torrential rains on a jungle walk, sighting fabulously strange animals.
We had the opportunity to visit an indigenous village and to see them cook over a fire on their dirt floor home. We tasted the milky juice of their traditional chicha drink. (Which I never need to taste again)
We blew dart guns with Quechua men and I had to be carried over the slippery hill as the jungle rains continued to pour upon us, grateful for my Dollar Store poncho and borrowed jungle boots.
We walked down dusty streets of the narrow town to watch local craftspeople.
All of the people in the small town came out to see us – We were officially the gringo parade.
We didn’t mind.
That night we returned to the perfectly dusty town.
We joined our fellow travelers at the most local bar I have ever witnessed, where the ages ranged from infant to grandparent and the dress from jeans to indigenous garb.
There was one drink option -the $.80 brown bottle beer sans a label. Yes please. We will take three.
We sat back sipping our tepid beers fascinated with the best people watching of our lives.
We begged the hotel attendant to order us pizza upon returning to the hotel slightly tipsy.
To which he reminded us, not amused at all, that there is not pizza delivery in the Amazon Jungle, no matter how many times we ask.
Did I mention this rustic, authentic hotel Casa del Suizo was amazing?
We feel asleep to a chorus of Amazonian bugs and animals, we recorded and dubbed, “Sounds of the Amazon.”
By day, we stretched our feet on the hammock of our tiny patio at the Casa Suiza Hotel and watched resplendent birds of every color dance from tree to tree.
We breathed in Amazonian air with gratitude for this amazing experience.
And yet, how can I forget the hightlight of this adventure? Tubing in a child’s inner tube down the Napo River, a tributary to the Amazon River. We at first adamantly turned down the adventure, looking at the huge brown river with an air of “Gorillas in the midst”, but decided to rescind when one of our 75-year old fellow travelers with a colostomy bag, changed into her swimsuit and gathered up her tube with enthusiasm.
So we went for it, diving into the boat at the last minute only to be dropped into the river. This was not the organized tubing of Costa Rica.
This is the equivalment of free falling while sky diving. Check out my sister flailing. See?!
Most parts of the adventure we couldn’t see another soul. I too flailed and cried out. I didn’t even know to pray that no anocandas got my booty because it wasn’t until I got home and Googled the river that I found out about all the jungle creatures lurking below. Finally, the boat in sight I hand-paddled with all my might, eager for this adventure to come to a close and yet my scrawny self couldn’t make it, the tide swept me in the other direction.
My heart sank, my pulse quickened, and I said Hail Mary’s on repeat. I was certain that this was it. I envisioned a giant cascade around the next cavernous bend where I would surely plummet to my death. My sister was safe in the boat and my dear friend Danyelle hung by me coaxing me from my near heart attack. Luckily and to my surprise around the bend was not a death calling waterfall, but rather another boat with a whole gang of our fellow passengers who leaned over to carry me to safety when I jumped out of my tube like a crazy person.
The picture one of them took perfectly captured my utter fear. The crazy thing, it was the best part of the trip. Like I have said before: I like fancy with a twist of adventure-every time. And it was on this adventure that I was officially dubbed “La loca.” I’ll take it.
So dear Amazon, now that I have dipped my toes, (and my butt!) into you, I am taken by your mystery and by your misty skies. I promise I will return to see you where I hope to venture deeper into your jungles, but this time I probably will remain in the boat.