Yesterday (May 12) we spent in the bus traveling to the Amazon Basin. We left the hot springs at 8:30, and rode in the bus about 3 hours. We got a great surprise as we were riding down the Andes Mountain range - we got to clearly see a volcano!!! We pulled the bus over and climbed a hill on a person's land to see a better view. Quite spectacular!
We rode further through the cloud forest to a town called Tena, where we got out of the bus to walk around a local market. We talked with a native "medicine woman" who showed us a variety of natural methods for healing, and we actually bought some palm tree grubs. We were told we could either eat them raw or cooked, and we opted for cooked. We walked across the street to have a local store fry the grubs over a fire (kabob style). We also bought some free-range chicken that was smoked in banana leafs. Great food, and the grubs tasted like fried bacon. (I will send pictures later when I have better internet).
Once we got to the Napo River, we boarded motorized canoes to take us 15 min down the river to Casa del Suizo, our stay for the next 2 days. We checked into our rooms for about an hour, then we had lunch. After lunch we went for an afternoon hike to a local home, learned about native plants, and drank some chicha (fermented drink of the natives). We talked to the local family, and met some girls who gave us all bracelets woven out of palm fronds. Our last adventure for the day was to learn how to use a blow gun! Some of the students have a hidden talent! After we got back, we had a chance to chill out before dinner then a free evening!
Today (Day 5, May 13), we had a morning hike in Amazoonica, a wild life preservation center that houses hurt animals or ones that were trying to be sold to different countries. On the way down thee river, we got to see monkeys that were not in the preserve! We saw lots of native animals, and some that we would not get a chance to see elsewhere. We returned to the hotel to change into cooler clothes, and walked to a butterfly farm, a local pottery shop and a balsa wood carver. It is now time for lunch and a heavy down pour of rain just blew in. Later this afternoon, we are going on a hike through the primary and secondary forests, and hopefully the rain will stop!
I will send pictures tomorrow when we return to Quito. :)
The grubs we ate in Tena: