Monday, March 9, 2009

Return to Quito March 8, 2009

The Napo moves quickly through the bend in the river, and the noise outside our cabin was loud. I struggled falling asleep and woke up earlier than I had planned. Eric and I stayed up late with Andrés at the bar, exchanging stories, laughing, anticipating our move to Ecuador. I was asleep by 1:30, I know Eric came in much later. There was a knock at the door at 9:30 this morning, one of the staff asking us if we planned to come to breakfast. All the guests were off on their adventures for the day. Benny was at Casa del Suizo with friends from Switzerland. He was planning to take them down the Napo by canoe to Sacha later in the week. Andrés had been there with his wife and children to see Benny, it was unusual for him to be in Ecuador twice in two months.

We wandered around the property, looking for places where the group of 30 could practice yoga, checked out the town of Ahuano, looked at where the guests would stay, where the boats left, what sorts of activities were offered. I believe it will work for the yoga group, although I much prefer Sacha. Perhaps next time, if we plan it far in advance, we could do it at Sacha. But for now, it will work at Casa del Suizo. I also wanted to look at the possibilities for contributions to the community. Sid wants to provide for some sort of service to the local people, and I was worried that going through the owners of Casa del Suizo or the local representatives would interfere with the money going to the community. Eric and I discussed possibilities and he will talk to a colleague of his who has integrated her research with the Secoya in another part of Ecuador. She may have ideas about how to do this.

Eric became ill during lunch, so our departure was delayed. I wonder what he ate that I did not eat--we had both had the same meals in the same places and I was fine. I enjoyed a second piece of Tres Leches, my favourite dessert here in Ecuador. I have decided to eat no meat for Lent, and all the choices for lunch were meat, including pork, tongue and beef, so I justified my extra dessert, having eaten only salad, potato and banana.

Back to the road. We had heard form Andrés that the wonderfully well lit and paved road of our late night drive (the only decent road between Quito and Ahuano) just outside Casa del Suizo had been built by Lucio, one of the contenders for president in the election coming up in a few weeks. I understand he has run several times and has been president before, but is not expected to beat Correa, but that Correa has never won this particular area of Ecuador because Lucio, who comes from nearby Tena, has always done so much for the local area. Eric and I were sure that Benny had made the road to make Casa del Suizo more accessible. But it was Lucio trying to get votes that not only built the road, but added schools, basketball courts, volleyball fields and community centers. he had even promised an international airport nearby. We decided to check out Tena, because so many of the guides at Sacha came from Tena and we were curious about the town, but it looked like any other jungle town we had driven through, but bigger.

We passed through Archidona, where we had been confused the night before, thinking it was Tena, stopping for a meal and learning that we were not too far from our destination. We discovered a new resort, Las Bromelias, which looked quite nice and offered adventures and ecotours as well.

We continued on the road, paved in places and gravel in others, requiring detours in places and avoiding huge holes and bumps in others. The treacherous ascent was less daunting because it was familiar, and there were no workers today directing us. There were also fewer trucks and less traffic, and I felt less frightened. The jungle was beautiful and changed dramatically as we rose from 400 feet at Ahuano to 10,000 feet of altitude. The cloud forest is dense and wet and very romantic looking, with the mist and the clouds floating through. I tried to take pictures from the car, because Eric did not want to stop and get behind. I was snapping away as we careered around the corners, trying not to think that our lives were in danger.

We did stop once, at 'Mirador de la Virgen', where I took a small well tended path into the forest. Everything was wet and I was not sure if it is always that way or if it had just rained. I wanted so much to take the path further and explore, but Eric did not want to be driving in the dark again. We made good time to Papallacta, but did not stop there. Instead we ascended more into the clouds and once past the summit descended rapidly to Quito.

We are safe and sound at Erika's house, and well fed. Erika's mother Isabel served us a traditional Ecuadorian soup that is used to break the fast before Easter. Erika's father, her brother and his girlfriend and her sister and her boyfriend and Erika's boyfriend David were all at the table. We discussed schools and places to live in Ecuador, and Isabel suggested we bring Maya here before school starts for her so that she can learn some Spanish. It may be a good idea and may mean that we move here earlier than we had planned. We may also stay at Isabel's until we find a place to live in Quito, and that may also be a practical way to go about organizing ourselves here.

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