Lauren's adventure in Ecuador

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Simple pleasures

I´m still surving the Amazon, and I´m learning how to unwind. Who knew it could be so hard to learn how to do nothing and relax? I know, I know, you must be thinking, right, Lauren, poor you. Seriously though, there´s an art to doing nothing. I think there´s even a book by that name, and if there isn´t , I will be more than qualified to write it in about three more weeks. I´m learning how to really appreciate the poeple who come to the lodge. As you know, I´m very much the talker, so I chat away with the guests, and I´ve met some really great people. I know it may sound funny, but I think that people should travel with business cards because I´ve met so many scientists, engineers, and other professionals who´ve met other great contacts from their field at the lodge. I also thought that maybe it´s also because people are on vacation with nothing else to do at night, so they actually give everyone a chance, aren´t caught in the hustle and bustle of their lives, and resign themselves to hammocks and conversation. It´s a beautiful thing to see how people actually listen and entertain themselves by asking people about the most interesting parts of their lives. Everyone really does have a story. Max Ehrmann is right.

I´m also really enjoying the cacao fruit. I know I already mentioned this, but I seriously cannot get over how much I love this fruit. It´s almost better than the chocolate that it later produces. Almost! The mazorca, or the body of the fruit, has this impressive red-orange watercolor look to it when it´s ripe. The most amazing this is that the fruit grows right from the trunk of the tree and not from a branch. (Maybe look it up-it´s neat). Then the fun part comes of whacking it open with a machete. I am getting good at this. Then you finally get to devour the fleshy pulp that cover the beans. I love walking around with my cacao fruits and then taking them tubing with us. La da dee dee doo, just floating down the river with some great fruit. I´ve also made it my business to get a batido (great fruity milshake made with WHOLE milk-yikes) every time I come to town. I´ve had three different kinds so far and plan on trying all 15. Like I said in the title, simple pleasures.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch life is good. I have found which hammocks I like best, and I´ve started to make friends with the staff. It´s funny how a day with nothing planned turns into something. I´ve done a lot of reading, and I especially like Isabel Allende these days. Most people know her for The House of the Spirits, and I´m currently reading her book called Paula (dedicated to her daughter). It´s a good read. I´m also really beginning to learn to love the rain. It´s torrencial here. When it rains, it really rains. Most people want to enjoy the rainforest without the rain part, but that´s why it´s called what it is. I love listening to the rain now though. I can spend a good hour in the hammock listening to the changes in the rain. Then comes the sunset if it´s an afternoon rain, and then what´s a girl to do? That takes another hour.

As I mentioned last week, I´ve been meeting tons of international people at the lodge. I had to translate for a old Norweigan couple these past three days, and it was trying. First off, not only did they not speak Spanish, but they didn´t speak English well either, so this created some fun times. The woman also had leg problems, so walks that take three hours took five. Think nightfall in the jungle. Yeah, I´ll get to that. So we go on a walk with the couple and four other guests. The guide, José, shows us a plant called Ortiga, or stinging nettles. He tells the group that it´s good to put Ortiga on the body to help with blood flow. So what´s the most logical thing for the Norweigan lady to do? Drop her pants of course. I really wish I were making this up. This 60 or 70-something lady undid her pants and proceeded to rub Ortiga all over her thighs while we all watched with mouths agape. It´s one of those morbidly interesting things that you really wish you weren´t seeing but you can´t seem to take your eyes off of. (Preposition). Then, because of her slow walking, so didn´t get going to head out of the jungle until late afternoon. The guide went ahead with two Italian people, and left me with the other four people, and we had to follow the path out of the jungle in the dark. I finally got fed up with being really scared and yelled at by the guests, so I yelled for José to come back at the top of my lungs. We all knew that there was no rational reason to get more scared just because it was dark outside, but you can´t help being a little concerned in the jungle at nightfall. The guests were a little upset to say the least.

So that´s the week in review. Meanwhile, I´m having way too vivid dreams because of my malaria pills and hoping not to get dengue. Wish me luck!


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