From the Galapagos we flew into Quito, Ecuador. And went straight to the bus station. The people here were not very friendly to us, as we had expected. So we went straight to Baños. This town is an adventure town for all walks of life. It's nestled in the mountains beneath a volcano. It has tonnes of different waterfalls.
We arrived on the 30th so we could spend New Years Eve here. BEST decision we could have made! In the daytime there were guys dressed as women in the streets of the main highway stopping traffic with a rope sometimes. They danced and hooted and hollared in order to make a buck or two and then let traffic pass. Whether this went back to the community or not I am unsure. It was SOOOO funny. Everyone dressed up. Including us. I can't even imagine what they do for Halloween.The customary tradition is to make bodies. Of burnable materials. The tradition originally started as building one's self, and to burn it on the turn of the year as to leave all the negative parts of you behind in the former year. An idea I love. Now the locals build whatever they want. It can be a celebrity, a cartoon, a superhero, or someone who has passed on, or yourself. We saw a memorial for Paul Walker "doll " . A few Bart Simpson's of all sizes. Lots of cartoon characters. The memorials to those that have been lost were definitely my favourite. On top of these random burning pits in the streets at midnight, anyone, of any age, in any place could light whatever fireworks they wanted! It was SO dangerous. Therefore,..... Amazing! I cannot count the amount of times I got hit by fireworks! Lol in the eyes especially. It took me a few times and some training from Ryan before I fully felt comfortable bursting lit fireworks into crowds of people doing the same. Due to my Canadian upbringing of regulated firework activities, this should be understandable ;-P .
This town is filled with things to do. The hot, warm and cold water healing baths are what the town is named after. Thermal Baths. Hence Baños. They are located at the bottom of the waterfalls in the main town and this is the water that they use for the baths. I loved them! Pisces fish that I am. ;). We stayed at 4 different hostals here. They just got better and better. Met a lot of cool people. We did some ziplining which was absolutely amazing! There's nothing like pretending your an eagle flying high over the canyons and rivers below. We also did a waterfall tour on cable cars. It was beautiful. We did also a 1 day tour to the jungle by Puyo in the Amazon. Here we saw a monkey rescue center...,(sad.....like once they are better, let them go!!! isn't that the point of the rescue?!?!...ugh anyways). We rode a hollowed out tree canoe down a river and hiked to a hidden waterfall lagoon. This made my day. It was so healing for my soul that day. We then went to a swing which swung HIGH over the cliff of a mountain. And river basin far far below. Wow. Talk about a rush. I loved it! Would do it again. Saw a shaman, and a random baby monkey jumped on me and thought I was its mother and kept trying to go inside my shirt. Lol very very cute little guy he was. He made monkey noises and clung to me when I tried to pull him off and clung to my iPod string. :-( .
ALAS!!! We cancelled our flight on January 8th and decided to go back to the jungle for 4 days! BAMMM smack dab deep into the Amazon rainforest. We travelled for 10 hours by bus, then waited for 4 hours in a small town called Lago Agrio. Then another 2 hours on a long wooden canoe down a long Amazonian river to the lodge. Guacamayo Ecolodge. Here we sleep in wooden huts that are fully open. I am not kidding when I say WE ARE LITERALLY SLEEPING IN TARANTULA NESTS!!!! That's what the Effin roofs are made of! Leaves . That house families if tarantulas ! Not only that but poisonous wolf spiders and all other kinds! The 10 hour bus was absolutely one of the most terrifying bus rides of my life hands down. I prayed . I thanked the universe for my existence. It was absolutely puking rain in the middle of the rainforest getting deeper by every kilometre. Permanent sharp turn arrows and sharp turn curvy road signs. We didn't go straight for more than a second or two ever. At points I swear we were driving through lakes . We actually did drive through a waterfall! Literally. In my mind, with every turn we took we were rolling down the massive cliffs, that we stared down at every opening. The bus was pitch black and people were literally hissing at us in the dark. So Swiss army in hand fighting the urge to sleep the entire time. I had such anxiety I couldn't even hold Ryan's hand. I had to keep them together just to pray. It's funny now. But not then. Upon arrival we were like " Jesus Christ , we just took the death bus to terror camp!! What in god's name is wrong with us?!?! Are we nuts?!" Lmao but here I am alive to tell the stories and MUCH less arachnophobic than before. If I ever shriek and run and hide from a Canadian dock spider again, please slap me in the face...................................Chandi ;-P
At Guacamayo Ecolodge, we went on many jungle boat rides. We did day treks and night insect walks. I miss the untainted nature of the Galapagos animals. These animals we really had to be creepy to see. But it was a whole new world of creatures. To add to our list of earths beautiful creatures we have tarantulas, wolf and social spiders, anacondas, caiman alligators, scorpions, parrots (macaw and others), toucans, carpentero woodpeckers, snakebirds, kingfishers, night herons (and 3 others), screaming pias, monkeys ( cappuccino, wooly, howler and squirrel), bats, sloths, pink river dolphins (rare), tree frogs (of many kinds with the circle fingertips), geckos, stick bugs, stink bugs, stinky turkeys, leaf bugs, lobster bug, butterflies (various beautiful kinds), night dwelling marsupial, marching wasps that live with ants, termites, and we heard the sounds of ocelots very close by on our night insect walk, and fresh Jaguar tracks. ........aaaand breathe. Lol And I can say that I swam deep in the Amazon, in water I could definitely not see in. The clay is way too thick. Hah sorry mom, there were definitely piranhas in there somewhere and anacondas that would devour me. But the dolphins did it sooooooo, I figured it was okay. Amazing!!!
Our last day there was my ABSOLUTE favourite day!!! We started our day by joining our new Dutch friend at the watchtower at 6 am for some viewing. There was a hawk eyed, lodge staff member there with his scope and binoculars. He was incredible. His sight and spotting skills have left me in a state of bewilderment. It looks over the tiny lodge and into the canopy surrounding us. We saw tonnes of wildlife. Much more than the boats down the river. The gentlemen was doing monkey calls and there were tonnes! I was thrilled. Everytime he called out the monkeys made really funny faces . They are so animated and fun. They were anywhere from 10-100 meters from our view tower. There were families feasting on fresh ripe fruit from the trees. And having a blast in the sunny morning hours. Jumping with gusto from tree to tree on some very small branches. Impressive. This spot is where we saw Toucan Sam and Woody Woodpecker in the flesh. Hooraaayyyyy!!!! Lots of parrots and other birds too.
After breakfast we went to see a shaman who we didn't catch. On the way we stopped to look at some different species of flora and fauna. The giant rainforest Ceiba tree was amazing! So huge and beautifully majestic with vines you can climb and swing on. Also there was the tree that anti-malaria medication is made from. And the ants that produced the acid that insect repellant is made from. The guide Dario put Ryan's hand on the huge ant nest and let them crawl all over. Then he squished them all. The smell was different and reeked of this 'acid ' Very cool. Also a garlic tree. It looked normal, but smelled like Max's cooking, so I asked. and sure enough the bark tasted exactly like garlic!!! Soooo weird! I took a piece and chewed it. Ryan literally took a bite out of the tree lmao.....anyway......The shaman was not at his usual ritual spot that day. He was probably doing much more important things than presenting himself to tourists. Such as collecting herbs, gardening, or tending to the sick. His name was Alberto and was the son of Tomas who passed on 2 years ago. Their spiritual and medicinal knowledge is ancient and passed on through generations. It's very crucial to the surrounding villages. They produce Ayahuasca and harvest the vines to make the most powerful hallucinogen in the world. This gives them vision into the sick to heal their ailments and gives the unsick a head on demon facing experience for the first time,...or few. Depending on how many you have. We saw his special potion and the roots he grew in his yard. It was a very solemn feeling leaving that place. You could feel the power and a deep appreciation washed all my emotions away to a zen that opened my eyes.
After this we went to a village to farm some yucca and have a lesson in indigenous cooking. We gave back to the community that day and that felt good. We also got to shoot wooden blow darts out of a long blow gun used for hunting. Hunting animals or defense from other tribes. It was SICK! They poison the tips and put cotton on the ends. I could do that all day. It was very fun.
That night we did the insect walk and got creeped out. It was exciting. Flashlights and lots of large creepy crawlies. Spider webs that were insanely woven with very strong silk that you could pull with your fingers and stretch and would just snap back to shape. You could catch a kite on that stuff. Black scorpions and tarantulas ready to pounce. Poisonous snakes and tree frogs. Lobster bugs the size of your hand. Hunting ocelots we could hear. Night wasps that were very focused on building a nest. Bug eyed marsupials. Just wow. A very unique experience. I LOVED the frogs. Sooooo cute and beautiful.
The next morning the whole group went to the watch tower hoping to see the canopy zoo again, but didn't have the luck that we did the previous morning. There was this funny spider. His web attached to the tower railing and the hydro wire. As soon as we all came and sun began to rise he LITERALLY started cutting his own web down. It was bloody brilliant. One by one he clipped his main supports and began to pack up his web into a ball like a tent!!! Lol it was almost like he was in a hurry to gather his things privately like we were allll pressuring him or something. But I was the only one who saw. So I brought Ryan to see this and really put him under the pressure cooker. Haha it seems he didn't want anyone to know his spot. What a quirky little thing he was. Like pulling in a fishing net. This was a first for me. I had to wonder if his net just pops back up at night like a tent too. But I highly doubt that.
We are now back in civilization (kinda lol) and have decided to go to Columbia to relax (hopefully). But the exitement of backpacking is that you never know what will come up. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep following because it's only the readers I am doing this for and it takes a long time to get this all down. I love you all. Kisses to Angel, mom, Chandi, Craig, Papa, Rod, Marg, Zeek and Lucy, Leah, Nike, Krysia, Sarah, Dew, and Cheebah, Nanny, Kirk and Nugget's souls dancing in the universe above. Big ups to B & Pj, Nivek , googly Kevin, D, Bug and Tyler. Keep it real homeflexes. <3