Lauren's adventure in Ecuador

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Being Jane isn´t as fun as I thought it would be

I safely arrived in the Amazon, but the past week hasn´t really been what I had wanted or expected. I´m never good with change, so I´m trying to stay positive while duking it out loads of spiders and ferocious conga ants. The lodge that I´m at is absolutely gorgeous. Amarongachi tours owns two sets of cabins, and I´m currently at the really nice ones (electricity), but the threat of going to the bug infested, more rustic cabins looms. Anyway, the nice cabins are called Shangrila, and the place deserves the name for sure. They have a whole floor of hammocks, a full bar, and a sight that literally takes your breath away. One man who I was translating for sat in front of the view for hours. After about three hours I noticed he was still sitting there. He wasn´t reading or listening to music. He was just sitting there taking it all in. He made a really great analogy and noted that he could stare off into the jungle basin much in the same way that he can look at the burning embers of a fire forever. Even though the jungle is composed of immobile objects, the landscape and the mirage of clouds is always changing, especially after a rainstorm. I saw the most amazing red sky last night after the rain, and I got frustrated because there was just no way to capture the beauty on film. (Which reminds me, there will be no more pictures on the site for the next three months because of my technical ineptitute. Sorry. More reason to see me when I get back!)

The lodge, like I said, is gorgeous, but the problem now is that it´s low season, and there aren´t many tourists. I went from a very hustle and bustle life in Quito into the middle of nowhere, so I´m having to learn how to find things to do and be patient. For example, I had to literally wait for the bus to take me into town for an hour yesterday! I was seriously dreaming about how glorious it´s going to be to drive a care again when I get back. I was talking to my mom about this, and she advised to fully appreciate this time, but I just laughed at the irony of the situtation. When I was drowning in my studies/thesis/volunteering/jobs during college all I wanted was a week of mindlessness, and now that I have a month of it, I want something real to do! I think I will dedicate myself to studying Kichwa (dialect of Quechua), the indigenous language here. The people who work at the lodge are indigenous, and they are fully bilingual in Spanish and Kichwa, and I think it´s a good opporutnity to learn. This past week there were some tourists, so I was able to go on hikes and on the river with them. I´ve already met people from Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Cuba in the short week that I´ve been here. I´m just hoping that more people come.

Working in a travel lodge has made me laugh a few times because it´s worlds away from the five star, five diamond service that I was used to giving at the Broadmoor hotel last summer. I serve the people and eat with them at the same time. I really kind of just do my own thing, and whatever that is is fine with the staff! You have to love it. The staff also doesn´t really concern itself with the details. If the people want cold water and there is none, well, sorry. And that´s that. The guides bring water on the hikes, but they only bring two or three cups for the people, and it´s funny to watch their expressions when they realize they have to share the cups! Erica would have a fit with the lack of sanitation. I´m getting my share of all kinds of bacteria though, so I think I am going to have the world´s strongest immune system in the U.S. You can´t exactly be fussy, for example, when you´re on the bus, and there´s a chicken sitting next to you on the next seat. I just laugh. I was sitting yesterday on the bus, and I happened to look down, and there staring at me were two chicken heads! Oh my.

So we´ll see how the next three weeks in the jungle go playing Tarzan. I´m learning about all the medicinal plants and am loving the beauty. Who knew that the jungle had so many leaves and roots to eat? I love eating the cacao fruit as well (where chocolate comes from). The jungle really is a playground, but when I saw a rainbow boa beaneath me in the caverns yesterday, I just about lost it. I´m still very much a GIRL when it comes down to it! Happy Passover to my family, and happy Easter too. I´m dreaming about Jelly Belly jelly beans right now. Take care.


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