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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The AMAZON!!! (Part 4-- The Journey There)

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Hi once again,

So I thought I'd tell you about my journey to the Ecuadorian Amazon!

First stop off the plane from Denver to Quito was this lovely hotel, Casa Gardenia, in the historic part of town just a few blocks from the main plaza.  It was in a renovated old building and had a stylish, modern feel.


I had to do page proofs for The Lightning Queen over my trip, and had only a small window of time to do them-- basically the plane ride there and my "free day" in Quito, before heading to the jungle.  So I found this comfy spot on the third floor lobby and worked and enjoyed the view.  I took breaks here and there to get some tea from the second floor or walk down to the plaza and get food.  It was delightful!


Plaza de la Independencia-- a really nice atmosphere, with flowering trees and palms and people strolling about...


I did pop in and take a little tour of the main church on the plaza-- felt I should do at least one little touristy thing in Quito.


It was wonderful to be away from the cold and snow in Colorado-- this was late February, so I welcomed the warmth and greenery.


The next morning, an SUV picked me up from the hotel, and I got to know my tour guide, Javier, who was great.  We picked up the only other member of the tour group (it was tiny!)  and headed toward the "Oriente"-- the Eastern part of Ecuador, toward the edge of the jungle.  Gorgeous green-skirted Andean mountains...


After a few hours, we made it to Banos (there should be a ~ over the n, but I can't figure out how to do it in Blogger).  This was a lovely little town at the jungle's edge, where we had lunch.  You can see a hydroelectric dam here-- sadly, these kinds of dams have had negative effects on the environment and cultures in the rain forest...


As we drove into the outskirts of the Amazon, along deep canyons, there were giant walls of green on both sides-- stunning.

I had a major bout of grumpiness when our plane was delayed over 24 hours because of the Carnaval holiday spontaneously shutting down most of the airport operations.... There was a LOT of waiting at this tiny airport, having no idea if and when our plane would ever take off...  I'd spent SO much time and effort planning this Amazon adventure, I was feeling devastated at the thought of cutting any more days out of it.


 But then, at this little one-room airport, I started talking with a friendly woman named Sue Brown, who is the Ecuador education director for Vibrant Villages, an awesome foundation that focuses on education, arts, nutrition, health, agriculture, economic development... and guess what?  She's a big fan of The Queen of Water!  She's actually shared Maria's and my book with people she works with.  It was so cool to meet this incredible lady-- she turned my grumpy day around fast....


This airport (in the town of Shell, named after the oil company) was.... rustic.

Here's the luggage area...


Our plane was a four-seater-- I sat next to the pilot up front,  Our guide, Javier, sat next to the other member of the tour group.


It was weird to have such an up-close view of the pilot using the panel of controls... I tried to pay attention to what he was doing in case, you know, something happened and I had to land the plane.... ha!


Once we were up in the air, all worries and grumpiness dissolved.... and I was able to feel, to my bones, the miracle that I was experiencing.  I was flying over the Amazon!!!  I felt enormously fortunate.



Looks like broccoli! :-)


The ride lasted about 45 minutes.  Here we're approaching the Huaorani Ecolodge, on the Shiripuno river...



We were greeted by the Waorani community, which felt wonderful.  And our Wao guide, Pegonka, introduced himself.


Here we are, watching the plane take off down the grass airstrip...  I was completely elated at this point.... felt like I was still flying!  I was aware, every moment, of the miracle of this adventure.
 

Then there was a dugout canoe ride to the lodge, so peaceful and beautiful...


I was charmed by my little cabin, with screen walls so I could see the jungle around me.  Nights and mornings sounded incredible, with the symphony of frogs and insects.


Here's the view from my bed.  Just beyond those trees is the river.  Paradise, truly.


Thanks so much for coming by!  I still have one more Amazon post I'm planning on doing (about my hike to a breath-taking waterfall and the limpia (spiritual cleaning) I did there.  And if you haven't read my first three posts, you can do so here, here, and here!

xo,
Laura

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