A Travellerspoint blog

Jungla Amazónica

Jungle tours are for chumps!

all seasons in one day

A tour into the Amazon Jungle wasn't adventurous enough - it was time for Jack to put his Spanish skills to the test and get us in without a guide.

From Quito we travelled to Tena, arriving around 1am in the morning, quickly finding the drop in altitude meant a significant increase in temperature and humidity.

With a quick bit of research the next morning, we jumped on a local bus (just 60 cents each), with people packed in and taking up all available space, and deeper into the jungle we went, with no idea of what we'd be doing once we got to Misahuallí.

On arrival, we cooled down in the River Napo, then donned our backpacks and we asked locals to drive us down the river in search of a Cabaña, witnessing this kid wandering the beach with a snake in his backpack...

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We were taken to two locations.

I was practically sold on the first, as we walked up to the top of a hill to check out the cabaña, walking past a group of kids calling out "mira, mira, gringos!" - "look, look, gringos!".

We decided to check out the second option, and on arrival, our driver said we were at the better place. He suggested we get our backpacks, which Jack did in one trip up the steep incline from the river (four bags!), and left us standing on the edge of a soccer field, having not seen, or even been told of availability, of a cabaña!!

After an hour or so of playing frisbee with a couple of local kids, and watching the soccer match in play, we were finally led to our little cabaña for the next two nights.

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The area we stayed in was built for tourists, but Jack and I found ourselves fortunate enough to be the only two in the area. Our cabaña was built for two, had a little balcony with a hammock, and fortunately our own little drop dunny and outdoor shower - there was a window near the toilets which necessitated the rule of not being allowed near it when anyone was going...

It was then a pleasant evening of swinging in hammocks, listening to the river flowing below and the numerous sounds of the jungle surrounding us.

Our second day in the jungle had a very relaxed beginning (finally!!), with breakfast served by our Quechua hosts at 8am, and eventually we walked back to Misahuallí in search of transport to the zoo we'd read about that was further down river.

Everyone Jack spoke to told us the price was $80 for a boat, and eventually we were informed by our "medio gringo" friend that this was a fixed price everyone had to abide by (we're pretty certain he decided he was half gringo only because he knew the word thank you...). He then managed to find us a ride to Puerto Barantilla for $15 which would get us close enough to take a boat for another $5 - half price!!!

So then it was David who took us out, full of conversation the entire way, questioning how women in Australia behave, asking Jack if I was his wife (the second time that happened in just a few days!!).

However, our run of luck with transport failed as we arrived and there was no one in sight to help us continue our journey.

Regardless, Jack and I chose to throw caution to the wind and wait it out as David returned to Misahuallí.

Fortunately, just ten or so minutes later, along came a boat and we were on our way again! Hooray!!

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We arrived at Amazoologica (which we were told is "not a zoo") and were given a private tour in English. We saw all sorts of amazing animals:

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I think the highlight for Jack was the turtles that were obviously ready to increase their numbers in a very noisy fashion...

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After that eye opener into turtle life, we found the boat driver waiting for us, and jumped aboard.

And then... We were stuck...

There was no one to take us the 30 minute drive back to Misahuallí, and no cars heading past this remote area that we could hitch with.

Fortunately, we had David's number and managed to get hold of a phone to call him back to us.

In the meantime we had a cool down in the river with the locals:

And so it was that David arrived to take us back, speeding along the roads, smashing it through stop signs while keeping up his constant chatter.

It's a wonder we made it back to our little cabaña for our final night in the Amazon Jungle.

Posted by caitlingordon 06:33 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Vamos a Pululahua

Living in a volcano

sunny

Once you hear about a volcano crater in which people live, you can't not pay it a visit.

I was imagining your typical volcano, and not comprehending how people could manage to live there - something resembling mines with roads going round and round the inside was what I first pictured.

A quick Internet search rendered that image ridiculous, but the idea still fascinated me, and Jack was convinced a trip was in order.

This super volcano last erupted about 2,500 years ago, and is now regarded as extinct. A small group of 120 or so people now live at Pululahua, and they are one of only two settlements in the world who live in a crater.

We took three buses to get close, with a short stop at Mitad del Mundo (the equator monument) on the way.

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We then began the walk up towards the crest of the crater, the bus having dropped us off more than 1k short of our destination.

A sign half way up led us into taking a detour towards the mirador (lookout), which was apparently just 250m away. Somehow this detour resulted in a much longer walk though as we traversed along the rocky road, up a steep hill, roughing it through bush, as Jack stormed ahead in search of an alternative entry into the crater.

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Who knows what he actually saw, but he deemed the road ahead a lost cause and back down we went, getting this view on the way:

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Hot, sweaty, all scratched up, we finally arrived at the entrance into Pululahua!!

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Ignoring the various other tourists who clearly weren't travelling on cheap local buses and through the various bush surrounds like us, down we headed into the crater.

From the top, it didn't look too far down...

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The trek down wasn't as expected though - with a rocky path and many switchbacks, we made our way slowly, and it took much much longer than we initially thought.

At the bottom, Jack had a brief conversation with a local about the area and we had a quick break....

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...before heading back up...

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After many complaints (on my part), we finally got back to the top. Success!!

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Then back to Quito we went adding a new ride into the journey.

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Posted by caitlingordon 13:55 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Hollyweed

When in California, do as the Californians do...

sunny 22 °C
View aventura sudamericana on caitlingordon's travel map.

My first day in LA started as any holiday would - a discussion on what to do with my time.

I mentioned to Siyan that it would be nice to go by the Venice Boardwalk, see Muscle Beach, watch street performers... To my surprise, he added in getting a medical licence for marijuana. Did you know such a thing existed???

Needless to say, I did not.

As was explained to me, along the Venice Boardwalk are various places where you'll find people standing outside doctors consultation rooms (almost like annoying advertisers) where you can get medical licences to smoke or even grow your own marijuana. It's all legal in California with a medical licence!

$30 was what the sign said above the place I couldn't help but go in to...

It started with one guy dressed in green ushering us into a small room to another guy who requested we fill out some forms and hand over some ID. Australian? No worries!!

Here's a picture:

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We filled out the forms. Siyan and I both had terrible difficulty sleeping, and yes, of course marijuana helps us...

I figured I was done. I'd managed to use my solid lying skills and got myself a medical license - what a laugh!

But no, that wasn't it. We were ushered along the boardwalk by the first man in green - now on a skateboard - as he took us to see "the doctor".

We were called in first, and surprisingly the doctor looked more like a doctor should (compared to the men in green). He had the grey hair, the stethoscope - all looked legit.

I had butterflies in my stomach thinking of how I now needed to lie to this man.

It was easy though. He checked out my form, asked if I had difficulty sleeping, questioned whether marijuana helped solve the problem (the assumption always was that we already used), listened to my "excellent heart and lungs" and with an "I approve you" it was over.

We sat and waited in the reception area then, before a group of four of us now medically licenced people headed off for the official certificate! Yes, we had to go to another location for this.

If it didn't look shady before, knowing we had to go to multiple locations for one piece of paper that was filled out at the first, it definitely started looking dodgy as our green skateboard using guide took us down a back alley. It's "faster" he said...

But no worries, we got to our destination, turning down the aptly named 4 20th Avenue...

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In we went, and then the pricing structure REALLY became clear - $30 for a consultation, minimum $80 for a three month licence. I contemplated asking if I could just have my already completed and signed paperwork as a souvenir, but the guy in front of us looked so fearsome, and I mean, we were dealing with people who's business it is to work with drugs... A three month licence it was!

So we paid the hidden fees, and back out to the boardwalk we went to a cheery congratulations and a card for two free gifts from this guy:

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With certificate in hand, we headed back to the car via the drummers circle on the beach. I'm pretty sure these guys have licences too...

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I couldn't then finish the night without testing the licence out now could I?

Off to get our free gifts we went.

We rocked up at the California Healing Gardens and filled in the appropriate paperwork, agreeing that yes, we did indeed have a "serious medical condition", while a steady stream of customers went through the mysterious door next to the reception lady. With a "G'day mate" upon seeing my licence, we went through the mystery door ourselves.

Inside was a glass cabinet full of the different varieties of things to purchase. I'm sure you can use your imagination on what it all looked like. Behind the three service people was a board that listed the varieties along with suggested "donations" for if you got a gram or an eighth.

Siyan purchased an eighth, satisfying my need to use our licences, and we walked away with our gifts - a choc chip cookie and a joint. We passed on the lollipop...

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Now I'm sure you're all wondering where that purchase has gone. It's currently sitting in Siyans boot as he plans to hand it over to a friend of his!

As if I'd actually use it... ;-)

Posted by caitlingordon 10:09 Archived in USA Comments (3)

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