About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi

"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Banos to Puyo...into the jungle

We spent a few days in Banos, a pretty town nestled in a valley in the shadow of the volcano Tungurahua (5016m).  Although much more touristy than we prefer, the town does have a lot of activities to lure adventure travelers, including mountain biking, rafting, climbing, zip lining, etc.  One day we rented mountain bikes to ride the Avenida de los Cascadas (Avenue of the Waterfalls) as it's known.

The route is shared with cars, trucks, and buses, and the traffic can be heavy.  But it does pass some spectacular scenery, with plenty of opportunity to get off the bike for cable car or zip line crossings of the river.

The route descends down along the river as it makes its way to the jungle in the region of Ecuador known as the Oriente, or Amazonia.  Many tunnels are bypassed by bike routes; others are shared with car traffic.

We took a cable car across the river, and got a healthy dose of vertigo as we flew over a double waterfall beneath us.

The most spectacular cascada was El Pylon del Diablo (Drinking Fountain of the Devil).  The trail descended to the base of the waterfall, where we could shimmy through a cave to stand behind the falls.  Very cool (and wet!!)

 One day in Banos we were having breakfast at the local market, and shared a table with a couple of other folks.  We started chatting in Spanish, and learned that one of the men, Alfredo, was a neurosurgeon in Quito, and was just finishing construction on a house in the jungle, outside the town of Puyo, around 60km east of Banos.  He told us that he had a guest room, already furnished, and that we were very welcome to come and visit.  With a great invitation like that, we arranged to bus over the next day, and take a taxi to his house.

The ride out was interesting, as we really had no idea where we were headed.  We left the paved road after around 21km out of Puyo, and took a rutted dirt road through the jungle the rest of the way.  Passing a couple of tiny indigenous villages, we really wondered if we had understood the directions correctly.

But our driver persevered, and eventually dropped us off in front of an absolutely remarkable place.  We walked up the new driveway, and found Alfredo, his lovely wife Isabelle (an anesthesiologist), 8 year old daughter Isa, and Isabelles mother, as well as several men working on the project.  They warmly welcomed us as family, and the more we learned about the project, the more amazing it became. 

Alfredo and Isabelle purchased the spectacular 8 hectare (19 acre) property two years ago.  In that time they have created an absolute paradise in the jungle, with two ziplines, over a kilometer of trails, a natural swimming pool fed by their private waterfall, and a lovely duplex house.  Soon they will be adding several private cabins, with the dream to have a wonderful resort for folks to relax, learn about the jungle plants, animals, and indigenous people.  They are approaching the project from an ecologically sound perspective, and will be reforesting much of the area which had been used for agriculture before their arrival.

Pool fed by waterfall

 Rodrigo, an indigenous man from a local village who has built most of the trails and pool, is also trained in medicinal healing.  He gave us a tour of the property, showing us the variety of plants and trees that the local healers use day to day.

Sampling a natural exfoliater
 We wound up spending three days with our friends as their first tourist visitors, and explored more of the area around Puyo together. 

We visited an ethnobotanical forest park, Omaere, http://www.fundacionomaere.org/espanol/newhomespanish.htm created by an American biologist Chris Canady and his indiginous Shuar wife to showcase the medicinal plants and practices of the Shuar people, one of two indiginous peoples of the Ecuadorean Amazon. Canady gave us a two hour tour, and we learned of the amazing diversity of the Oriente jungle, the various plants and potions used by the Shuar healers, and the lifestyles of the Shuar today, many of whom still live much as they have for hundreds of years in the jungle.

Isabelle looking at a tiny orchid with magnifying glass
We also toured an orchid forest, created by Omar and his family thirty years ago. http://www.jardinbotanicolasorquideas.com/en/index.html   Omars passion and knowledge of orchids and the other trees and plants of the Amazon was contagious, and we saw orchids that can only be imagined, some as tiny as grains of rice.

Cindi with a Lipstick flower

 Bugs in the jungle are fantastic.  You never know what will wind up on the porch!!!

Tasty platter of grubs at a local eatery....(no, we havent got the nerve up to try....YET)

All and all it was a terrific introduction to the Ecuadorean jungle, and it was so special to share it with our friends Alfredo, Isabelle, and Isa.  Muchas gracias para una visita muy especial!!!

1 comment:

  1. Great photos, glad you're having a wonderful time. No lightening either right?

    Ian & Deb
    Blythe Spirit
    Bahia Jaltepeque, El Salvador