“In the jungle. Welcome to the jungle,” as Joe would scream at the top of his lungs, attempting to sing a popular American rock song. Yes, we were headed to the jungle, Ecuador’s Amazon (the watershed, not the actual river) to be exact. We paid the bill, the steepest of our adventure, and took off. Heading east approximately ten hours in bus, plus 2.5 hours downstream in a motorized canoe, we arrived at our jungle lodge. Jamu Lodge was fully equipped with hammocks for Joe to enjoy his early mornings, hot tea, coffee, and chocolate for us to enjoy at any point of the day, and comfy mosquito net-protected beds!
Other than enjoy our few days of luxury, what did we do? We did all the typical jungle stuff. We took our canoe out into the middle of a lake that is home to piranhas, crocodiles, and snakes for sunset swims. We took a hike through the trees to admire monkeys, birds, and plants. We, unsuccessfully, went piranha fishing; apparently, it’s the wrong time of the year. We visited an indigenous group still living in the jungle. They demonstrated one of their typical cooking practices, using a root plant called yuca. In addition to getting to see their village, we visited the village Shaman. He was wearing his full regale, and, after talking about his training and tradition, he demonstrated the strength of jungle plants on a couple of our fellow tourists. Two tourists became victims to a jungle plant that supposedly increases circulation, but only after breaking their backs out into terribly itchy hives.
While all was interesting, the highlight was Joe The Biologist coming alive in our night hike. Eight of us were tightly in line, listening to every word that came out of our guide’s mouth. While Joe The Biologist, with his crappy flashlight in hand, was wondering off the path, searching for the never-been-seen-before insect or snake. His efforts proved not only to be quite the entertainment for me (Juleen), but it proved fruitful for the group. He was the sole person to spot a snake that night.
While alive with other life forms, our lives in the jungle were pretty sleepy. The insects were humming, owls were hooting, and the rest of our group was alive and well, enjoying the night, even the 60-ish Dutch couple. Meanwhile, by 9:30, we were fast asleep. Being in such close proximity with the seven other people comprising our group highlighted our different sleeping schedules, making us a little self-conscious as we turned our flames out right after dinner as theirs were just getting started. Our minimum nine-hour sleeping schedule hasn’t just made us uncomfortable in the Amazon; it’s been a re-occurring “problem” throughout the trip. When else has this problem manifested itself???
For two examples, we need go no further than tonight and last night! Last night when our couchsurfing host kindly invited us to go dancing our first question was when will he go out. Upon hearing the 9:30 departure time we declined. We were sleeping before he left. Finally, we are presently struggling, as we wait for our night bus to leave at 11pm! The only way to stay awake, I guess, is to write a blog…