Sunday, November 12, 2023

Day 8 Coca - Yasuni National Park

We made it to the airport with plenty of time.  The taxi driver was an older man with several crosses and crucifixes hanging from the rear view mirror of his truck.   There was a particularly steep cutout from the side road we were on to the highway.  The uber driver from our trip to Otavalo drove up to it, looked, then turned around and went a longer way.  This man groaned, put the truck in low and went for it.  He then had to cross 6 lanes of traffic making a left turn.  When he was on the highway he crossed himself.  It was that bad.   

But the plane was good.  We didn't have to check any luggage and I had paid a little extra to pick out our seats.  We were much closer to the front with a window.   This was our first look at the Napo River.  Remember the crystal clear water from Day 7.  That is the headwaters to this. 

The airport in Coca that we flew into was small and we unloaded onto the tarmac.  Now my next worry, would there be someone there to meet us.  When we got outside I started looking around at the signs, but no one was holding one with the name of the lodge we were going to.  Then a young man came up to us and asked if we were going to Sinchi Wayra. Yes!  He apologized for not having a sign but said it was safe and to come with him.  We got into a taxi and went straight to the dock area.  
There were several people already on the boat but we found out later that these were all family members.  His father was captaining the canoe.  They gave us a nice snack, water, juice, cookies, passion fruit and we settled in for a 2 1/2 ride. 
It was pretty exciting at the beginning but we were ready to get out of the canoe by the end.  
There were lots of interesting things to see.  Joe even spotted some cattle
This was the entrance to the lodge.  I think it translates to "Tourism Project".  From their website, 
SINCHI WAYRA is a Kichwa word meaning strong wind. With the force of a strong wind, our Sani community has made a rare decision. We are choosing to protect our jungle home and founded the Sinchi Wayra lodge in early 2023, which is run by the indigenous Gualinga family. We have not succumbed to the incentives and pressures of the many oil companies that come to the community. We are committed to another path, ecotourism.
More mosquito nets but at least our bed was off the floor.  Unfortunately, the water was out.  Does that sound familiar?   The water comes out of the river and is pumped to a holding tank up on stilts by a generator.  It is the gravity fed to the lodge.  There is no filter.  They did have filtered water available in the dining area.  
The dining area was very pretty. 
It was a very picturesque  setting. 
We were greeted with a refreshing lime water drink and given a little time to settle in.  Then with three blows of the native bamboo trumpet, lunch was served.  
Every lunch and dinner starts with soup, 
and the main course was delicious.  There was even a strawberry cut like a bird with a little glaze for dessert.  I was surprised that there was an actual chef.  I had assumed that a family member would be doing traditional cooking.  But this was above and beyond.   
After lunch we got back on the canoe for a short ride to a hiking trail. 
Eddie, our guide, and his mother went with us.  
She would stop at various plants and explain their use in Kichwa then Eddie would translate what she had said.  
They both were experts at spotting birds and Eddie would do imitations to try to attract them.  A few that I got pictures of, a woodpecker (Emily needs to tell me what kind)  
 a toucan, (same here Emily)

and a very cute pygmy owl.  

Next, we left the trail, crossed a precarious bridge and walked through the mother's corn field. 
It was a bit different from the cornfields around here.  But we were going to a place where the mother knew pygmy monkeys could be found. 
And sure enough, there they were.  It was getting darker and hard to get a good picture, but this is a mother with a baby on her back.  
The sun was setting by the time we got back to the lodge.  

And another wonderful meal was served.  
Complete with an apple bird for dessert.  By this time we had water in the toilet and sink but no water in the shower, just mud.  Joe decided to just sleep in his clothes.  I made the effort and washed off in the shower from sink water.  I would fill up a cup, get a spot wet, soap up, then rinse off.  It was a bit tedious but I think worth the effort.  Oh, I didn't mention that there is no hot water even if the water is working.  But it is the jungle after all.  

1 comment:

C said...

What an amazing adventure. It is so impressive what you have organized on your own. I would have been on a package tour. The trip to the airport was a bit harrowing.

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