Monday, May 3

Steve: We said goodbye to the rainforest today. Somewhat similar to our departure from the Galapagos Islands, we were very sad to leave. We all agreed that our stay here was too short, and really loved our adventure at Kapawi.

Our experience in Ecuador's rainforest provided us with a real sense of adventure and feeling of isolation, with just enough creature comforts. None of our initial fears, which were numerous, came to fruition. These included concerns about flying on a small plane, being persistently attacked by mosquitoes and miscellaneous Amazon-sized insects, the likely scenario of constant rain (especially during the current wet season), and the prospect of, hot, muggy and sleepless nights. In fact, our plane rides were great, bugs were never a problem, and the weather was perfect. We even all managed to get great nights of sleep, serenaded by the loud and mysterious sounds of the rainforest and well protected under the cover of mosquito nets. What more could we ask?

The staff at Kapawi is really wonderful, especially our guides who helped us to learn while having fun. This week, there was a staff of 44 people on hand to serve the 16 resident guests. Needless to say, we were very well taken care of.

This morning we spent every last minute enjoying the surroundings of the Amazon Rainforest. Paula watched for birds over our lagoon (she's in this picture of the main dock), hoping to add one more species to her list. David and Katie worked diligently trying to land a piranha, fishing from the docks near our cabana. In fact, David hooked several small fish and had them in mid-air, but each time they let loose just before he could get them on the dock. His souvenir set of piranha jaws will just have to wait until next time. Speaking of fishing, it should also be mentioned that David set three lines with large chunks of meat outside our balcony (directly into the lagoon) overnight. This morning, two of the hooks were entirely gone, with the lines completely chewed through. We assume this was the work of some particularly devilish piranhas…

We were thrilled to find out that we would be flying directly to Quito, with no stops. As of last night, the plan was to shuttle six of us at a time to a nearby military runway (a 12 minute flight) because our plane couldn't take off on the short jungle runway with all 12 of us on board. From there, we'd all fly on to Shell for a refueling stop since the plane would have used too much fuel in completing the shuttling operation. Finally, we'd be flying from Shell to Quito - three flights in all! Fortunately, someone last night realized that because David and Katie (plus a couple of the other passengers) are so light, that we were actually a full 150 pounds under the weight limit. Sounded good to us, as long as the calculations were right…

It was absolutely perfect weather for flying, and we watched as our plane circled above (that's our plane in this picture) and made its steep descent onto the dirt (now thankfully much drier than when we landed on Friday). Soon, it was time to takeoff. The plane bounced and bumped along as it sped down the runway, and we all experienced a brief nervous moment as we grew nearer and nearer to the trees at the end before FINALLY lifting up and beginning our ascent over the trees. Our flight to Quito was as smooth as any large plane that we've been on so far, causing David and Katie to remark: "This is nothing!" Paula and I didn't bother to tell them about how much worse this can get…

Once in Quito, we used a room at a local hotel to sort and repack all of our clothes, and to prepare for trip to Lima. Peru will be the 23rd country that we've visited since our journey began last June. We're just now feeling like we're beginning to enter the home stretch, but know that there is still a lot of traveling still to do.

Our trip to Lima was uneventful, and tomorrow morning we'll be flying to Cuzco and then driving to begin our exploration of Peru's Sacred Valley.






David's Daily Dump: My Amazon Experience. The past three days that we spent in the Amazon Jungle were absolutely incredible. It's hard to describe what it is like being out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by impenetrable vegetation. I loved the hiking, and was fascinated by this remarkable jungle.

One of the first things we heard about, coming into Kapawi, was how neat the hikes were. I was really looking forward to walking through the jungle, and seeing all the wildlife and plants. The hikes we took turned out to be truly amazing.

Walking through the jungle is an experience that can't be missed in a lifetime. It's like stepping into a totally different world. It's so awesome trekking through 12 inch deep mud (we had rubber boots on…most of the time we had to be pulled out), while squishing bugs on our arms (never seen any of them before…you never knew which ones were poisonous!), and being scared to death of anacondas (we never saw one). The trails were hardly distinguishable and most of the time we were bush-whacking (our guide with a machete made the trail as we walked). You never knew which way to look either. We needed to make sure we didn't trip over any roots, while checking our surroundings for animals and bugs, and also watching the canopy in case a boa constrictor decides he's hungry. You are always sweating up a storm, and the humidity wears you out just like that. There's almost always a spider web on your head, or ants crawling up your pants (we had to watch our for the bullet ants).

You never realize how many shades of green there are until you visit the jungle. Everything is green, lush, and extremely beautiful. Most of the time while you are hiking, you can't even see the sky! It's also hard to hear anything someone else is saying. The sounds of insects, monkeys, and frogs overwhelm you. I always wonder what is really out there making those noises, but then I realize that I probably don't want to know.

Although this may sound very descriptive, it's nothing compared to the real thing. You can't even get a sense of what it's really like without visiting it yourself. I had a wonderful time, wish we could have stayed longer, and definitely want to come again.












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