On Monday we left the city of Quito headed for Tena, the entry to the Amazon. On the way we stopped for an awesome waterfall hike and lunch. Once we arrived and settled into our hotel we went to dinner, explored Tena, and had some helado (ice cream).
On Tuesday we had another super fun day of rafting, this time on the Rio Jatun Yaku with a wonderful and hilarious guide named Poncho. We stopped for lunch halfway through at a nice riverside hut. How it is that river lunches are always so tasty will forever be a mystery to us! After rafting we had some rest time before dinner and evening activities.
Wednesday was a very busy day! We spent our time with the Kallari Chocolate Company where we not only learned all about this awesome project but also got to try many different kinds of chocolate. We saw a cacao processing center and a vanilla processing center as well as the new factory that is being built for Kallari. After lunch, we went to see a gold mine and saw firsthand the effects it has had on the land. We then visited a little town that has a lot of monkeys, before heading to our accommodation for the next few days.
On Thursday we relaxed in the morning, learned about Amazonian basket weaving, and then went tubing in the afternoon. Yesterday we went for a hike with a guide named Gregorio who taught us about the medicinal properties of different plants. We stopped for lunch by a river where we fished and had a traditional lunch. In the afternoon we played Ecua-volley and soccer with the locals. After dinner, the community’s Shaman taught us about Shamanism.
Today we woke up very early and drank guayusa tea, a natural energy drink, and learned about local Kichwa legends. Now we are heading to our homestays in the Amazon! Though we are sad to leave behind a community of such hospitality, we are looking forward to the adventures ahead in the Amazon!