"It's better to go see things than to buy stuff".
That's been my choice all my life. My friends drive fancy cars, have luxurious homes - and often second, lake, homes - and Club memberships and wonder how I - who avoid those - can afford to travel. Anyhow...
Today, Thursday, February 19th, was one of those days. First, in order to enjoy the amazing day we had, we had to adjust to Ecuadorian (aka South American) time. 8:30a departure MEANS 9:30a departure. 7:30p return MEANS 9:15p return. 20 minute rest stop MEANS 40 minute rest stop. Lunch at noon MEANS lunch at 3p. Once we adjusted, everything worked out fine.
28 of us: 2 Swiss, 4 Ecuadorians, 20 Chileans, plus Donna and me, plus our driver and guide, piled into a "bus" of sorts. Everyone but us was under 30 years old. Seven rows of tightly packed, hard, seatbeltless benches bolted to a floor 4' above the ground. Sides that extended up from 4' to 7' with brightly painted doors that opened so we could pull ourselves up to the floor, and enter. A roof. And huge speakers that started out blaring mariachi music at 100db until I protested at 110db and they quickly turned it off for the entire trip. Hooray for my big voice!
So we bounced along the rough Ecuadorian highlands, headed down to a river in the Amazon River basin, in the jungle that you might expect to find as part of the Amazon ecosystem. Our first stop was at a zoo featuring lots of local animals. [Photos]
Next, we canoed down the river in bouncy wooden dugout canoes. [Photos] Then off to a hike (we walked 8 miles yesterday) to a waterfall and swim. [Photos]