Where We Be
We saw this tiny emerald glass frog right on the premises of Samona Lodge
Amazon Basin, Ecuador (Days 3-5)
Silhouette of a half-submerged tree as dusk falls
We paid a final visit to Laguna Grande on Day 5 and saw several pink river dolphins blowing water out of their blowholes as they swam serenely along
He seemed surprisingly relaxed as he draped himself across the metal counter
The simple pleasure of tooling up and down the Cuyabeno River in a motorized canoe is something we'll always remember
The shaman oversees the use of the hallucinogenic brew known as "ayahuasca," which first cleans out the system by inducing vomiting then causes
several hours' worth of either spiritual enlightenment or tripping, depending on who you ask. A shaman uses it for divination and healing purposes.
Its root system writhed like a snake
We headed even deeper into the jungle to see this enormous ceiba tree, which is over 130 feet tall and 500 years old
As we left the village, we saw these children hanging out by the river or taking a swim
It was flipped once, like a pancake, and allowed to cook on the other side, then split into pieces and served with marmalade. Not bad!
More than 550 different bird species have been identified in Cuyabeno. Let's call this one a rufescent tiger heron. Anyone want to tell me otherwise?
The mud came right up to the tops of our boots. To my dismay I discovered a slight leak in the bottom of my
left boot. It quickly became squelchy and made farting sounds for the rest of the hike -- how embarrassing!
Pajarito demonstrates how to make a snare with a loop of vine and some sticks -- but thankfully the only thing he catches is his own hand
This "small" boa constrictor was big enough for us
Robin's boots almost came off in the viscous mud
The trunk of the ceiba tree was like a wall!
Weaver bird nests dangle from a tall tree overhanging the river
A rainbow boa constrictor makes himself at home in the lodge's kitchen. Here you see him stretched out to his full length.
Our boat driver is holding a very small caiman (alligator) scooped up from the river bank. As you can see, it latched onto his finger and wouldn't let go!
What a beauty!
The meal was spread over a hot plate on top of the fire to cook for a minute or two
It was twisted even tighter to remove any remaining moisture as shown above
The woven contraption was twisted tighter and tighter to get all the moisture out
The grated yucca was placed into a woven contraption
The yucca tubers were then peeled and grated, with each of us taking a turn grating them
Unusual sights like this abound in the jungle
The resident parrot took a keen interest in us
The pace of life in the village was quiet and serene
Instead of heading towards Laguna Grande as we usually did, on Day 4 we headed deeper into the jungle. It rained heavily on us as we puttered along.
We stopped at one point to watch the leaping squirrel monkeys described above, and eventually, just as the rains ended, we reached this Siona village.
The houses of the Siona village were more modern-looking than the thatch huts of our lodge
The first step in making yucca bread is pulling up the tubers of a manioc tree -- hard work
Our last three days in the Amazon Basin offered
up a potent combination of wildlife sightings
and cultural activities. We took a medicinal herb
walk through the primary rainforest, visited a
shaman of the Siona tribe, and learned how to
make yucca bread, starting from the very first
step of digging up a small manioc tree to get to
the yucca tubers. We paddled a canoe all the
way from Laguna Grande to our lodge (whew!),
saw pink river dolphins up close, and watched
an unmoving blob in a distant tree our guide
insisted was a two-toed sloth. One afternoon
our boat pushed through a narrow gap in the
jungle; on the far side was a secluded stretch
of river teeming with wildlife. A whole troop of
squirrel monkeys frolicked in the trees. We
watched in amazement as juveniles jumped
across a broad expanse of sky from one tree to
another. A few jumped from a high tree on one
side of the river to a branch barely above the
water on the other. One missed and fell plunk
into the water! He quickly swam out. Capuchins
lazed nearby and toucans flitted back and forth.
We could have spent all day here, so mesmer-
ized were we by this rich display of wildlife.
Robin channels her inner Amazon woman and heads deeper into the jungle
Photo op inside a huge hollowed-out ceiba tree
During our jungle hike we had to cross this lowland swamp area -- yuck!
Standing proud in my fart boots
This woolly monkey came up to greet us as we entered the village. We were told not to appear too welcoming or else he might jump right into our arms!
Then it was sifted into a fine meal (Robin really liked this part!)
We returned to the same village to watch a demonstration from a shaman in the village
Coffee to go?