19 PICTURE ALBUM
Monday, April 19
Paula: Horseback riding yesterday and white water rafting
today - a plan designed to expose us to exciting activities in the beauty
of Ecuador. Our plan had us high in the Andres one day, and the next day in
the cloud forest of the lowlands. The experience not only found us dropping
over 8,000 feet in altitude but also finding a significant increase in temperature
and humidity. The wide variety of ecosystems in a small geographic area is
one the things Ecuador is best known for.
starting the rafting, we had an opportunity to visit a small school in the
nearby village. The children were shy at first but warmed up during their
recess and soon were gathered around us asking questions. The girls were especially
interested in speaking with Katie and wanted to know if she would be back
later in the afternoon. David and Katie both found themselves wishing they
could speak more Spanish.
Heavy and study rains eased us to sleep last night and we wondered whether
this would effect our plans. In fact, the river levels were quite high and
we decided to play it safe and settle for rafting on an easier (Class 2) river
near the resort we planned to spend the night in. Unfortunately, the river
was much lower than our guide realized, and we found ourselves continually
up on rocks. After having to literally push and drag us through a few of these
areas, the guide said that it wasn't worth continuing. Despite this, we enjoyed
the shortened excursion, swimming in the cool refreshing water and seeing
the dense vegetation on both sides of the river. David and Katie also had
a chance to try out inflatable kayaks on their own.
After a picnic lunch on the riverside, we walked through the forest to our
hut here at the Kaony Lodge, situated on the banks of the Rio Caoni in the
middle of this cloud forest. The only entrance to the lodge is by crossing
a rope suspension bridge or via the river. It had taken us 30 minutes on an
unpaved road to even get to the bridge this morning, so we felt like
we were really deep in the forest. The small huts are made out of bamboo and
have thatched roofs. The surrounding garden attracts many birds and lizards,
and we even discovered a colony of leaf-cutter ants busily working around
our hut. After a refreshing dip in the pool, we retreated to our hut to enjoy
the relaxing sounds of the rainforest and river.
This evening we did another bird watch with Henry, but unfortunately the
rains came right when the birds normally fly back to their nests. Despite
this, we did see some new varieties and have started making a list of all
the birds we've seen.
Tomorrow, we will visit another cloud forest known for its wonderful birds
and hiking, and then drive back to Quito before our flight the next day to
the Galapagos Islands.