My purpose for the trip was to see the highlands and also the Amazonian rainforest, and to enjoy the experience with people from many other cultures. Ecuador exceeded my expectations as did both the native people and the people that I traveled with. Ecuador is a most beautiful, mountainous, volcanic and water filled, lush green country. I will be blogging about my experiences for several blogs here.
Quito, Ecuador sits at almost exactly 0 degrees longitude and 0 degrees latitude and is at 9350' in elevation, literally the "middle of the earth". After meeting the group in Quito I left with them for Banos, a resort town in the Andes. We stayed for two nights in Banos, where I experienced galloping to the top of the mountain on my horse Mariachi (more later), the thermal baths and also my first ever full body volcanic ash message and exfoliation.
Before we left the highlands, we enjoyed a park in a volcanic setting at the top of the mountain, swinging out over the mountains at the "top of the world" in a beautiful alpine setting. Then along the mountainous road down to Tena in the rainforest, we hiked to the steep and beautiful waterfalls that we passed along the way. As we reached the Napo River which flows into the Amazon near Tena we met the welcoming native Quechua family in their homestay.
At the homestay we had mosquito net accommodations with no electricity and cold water only; it was easy to feel one with the environment although I can't say that I enjoyed hiking to the facilities in the dark (I had a flashlight). We stayed at the homestay for several days and experienced a wonderful "back to nature" time. The rainfall coming through the trees as we slept was soothing and we took a hike with the father of the family where he showed us the rainforest flora and explained to us the native uses of all the plants by the local people. We made a chocolate fondue from the local cocoa beans with pineapple and bananas and enjoyed fish and rice dinners with wonderful veggies and organic egg breakfasts with wonderful spicy sauces that were very tasty.
My secret wish was to be able to read my Lae Lae books to the local children and I had brought three with me. Our guide asked the father of the family if I could and he said yes. So I read "A Birthday Party for Mother Earth". I couldn't speak Spanish and the children couldn't speak English but our guide translated and the illustrations told the story. I signed them "for love of Pachamama" and gave two to the family elder for their library and one to our guide for his little three year old. It was quite special and I left a little of me with the people in the Amazon. A wonderful end to a very special trip!