Day 8, Weekend in the Rainforest

Tena, Ecuador, 01/07/2017

During the 5-hour drive east into Tena, I watched through the window as the vegetation slowly evolved from green farm-spotted hills to dense, mossy, wet jungle. We stayed as groups in separate cabanas and the rooms were impressively clean, although when walking in-between the houses you would see wild monkeys which were bold enough to stroll into the lobby scratching their fleas. Our group scheduled a cave-exploring experience and I was not prepared for what was ahead of me! I'm very glad I opted to rent the galoshes for $1, as before I knew it, I was up to my chest in a rushing underground river with nothing but an old rope to pull myself across with! We spent about 2 hours being guided through a massive and winding calcium cave-- climbing out of the ground from a barely visible hole, I was stunned to look back at the hidden world we had emerged from. Back at the hotel, Juan Pablo said he knew a native Kichwa shaman we could visit, which led to an off-roading trip at about 11pm searching for his hut in the forest. It was a fascinating experience-- the shaman and some of the natives put together a demonstration about their traditions and dances, and I bought a few hand-woven items from the women afterwards. By the end of the day, I was looking forward to some rest, but ended up sleeping on top of the covers, mummified in a single blanket, with the lights on for the entire night because we had found an actual tarantula (the size of my palm) in my roommate’s pants and were terrified of what else we would find.

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