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Friday, 03 July 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure: Ecuadorian Rain Forest - Page 2

Written by Steve Bramucci
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You arrive in the surprisingly bustling city of Tena, Ecuador after an incredible week spent in the Galapagos Islands.  Tena is the last major outpost before a hundred or so miles of jungle and then Peru. Bisected by rivers, the town hosts five different Adventure Travel Operators offering tours that all seem to be interesting and perfectly fun.  You:

A) Sign up for one of these tours.

B) Decide to go a different direction by renting a bike and trying to find a lagoon along the Rio Anzu (recommended by a local), using a map drawn on a napkin.

Hmmmm, it's certainly more work, but so be it.  No one can deny that the spot you choose is everything you ever imagined a tropical rainforest to be.  The jungle trickles right out onto the boulders and the little pool of water next to your camp hosts thousands of tadpoles and baby frogs.  In the distance the clouds hang in the trees like long, twisted tendrils of smoke.  Almost immediately, a brilliant blue butterfly the size of a dinner plate lands next to you.  In fact, the area seems absolutely ripe with different butterflies. Choose Your Own Adventure: Ecuadorian Rain Forest, travel adventure ecuador, funny travel stories, travel ecuador rainforestThe number of butterflies and moths that have landed right on you during your lifetime jumps from one to about two dozen within minutes. As you make camp, the sun is beating down and when you need a break you ride some small rapids using a giant plastic jerry can as a floatation device, a trick learned from the Bujigali Boys in Jinja, Uganda.

Your best guess pegs the time at about four o'clock when you start to gather wood for a fire. You quickly discover that finding dry wood in the rain forest is not the easiest task. You resort to burning the blank pages and editorial notes from Huck Finn to get a few fallen leaves dried.  These giant leaves, once dry make an excellent fuel but the bigger twigs dry more slowly.  It feels a little like starting a fire in early spring on the Necanicum River in Oregon, except for when a spider that looks as if it was specifically engineered to flood your body with deadly venom crawls out of the wood you have just gathered. Then it becomes all too clear that you are in a foreign land.  You struggle for more than two hours to not be bit by such things and get a steady flame going.


Near sunset you roast onions, garlic, potatoes, and carrots in the coals and heat up a can of lentils. Darkness settles in and you try to keep yourself from feeling a little spooked.  Your fire doesn't provide enough light to eat by so you use your flashlight. The batteries burn out by the end of your meal, which may be a blessing because (although you start itching for a day or two) the light was attracting sand flies and they were biting you everywhere, even some of the same spots where the bicycle seat was gouging you. You hear heavy thuds off in the jungle-- you recognize the sound as rain just in time to dive for your tent.  The rain begins falling in marble sized drops and with force. A flash of lightning makes the whole river visible for just a second before everything goes black and the thunder smashes above you.  You:

A) Remember something about Amazon River tributaries being prone to flash flood and move camp now.

B) Keep the thought in mind and bide your time by eating a Nestle Crunch Bar carried along for just such emergencies.

Okay, you've decided to stay put. Every few minutes you reach your hands blindly out of the tent to see how much that innocent looking little tadpole pond has infringed on your spit of sand.  You go through alternating moments of panic and relief and decide you will write to the people at REI to thank then for the quality of their tent rain-flies.  The storm booms along for hours.  It is a long night, filled with worry but you never wake from your fitful naps to find yourself floating down river, which is a good thing.  At first light you poke your head out of the tent. Your camp still hasn't been breached.  You feel very, very lucky.  However it is still raining and considering how little you slept, you decide to laze around in the tent for a little while.  You figure this can't keep up much longer.  You are:

A) Correct, the storm weakens.

B) A fool, this is the rain forest, it's right there in the name! The rain continues steadily, with a few touches of far off thunder splashed around for effect.

(Page 2 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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