Sunday, June 16, 2013

the amazon

so we left the hotel before the breakfast hour because the airport is inconveniently located an hour and a half from city center Quito.  Our morning flight to Cocoa was mostly on time (an improvement over the Peru airlines which not a single flight was even close to on time) - and we were met by our guide for the next five days, Raul.   The cool thing is there are only five of us (the boat- the Amazon Manatee Explorer - holds up to thirty) so we are seriously blessed with a great small group.  Patrick a Swiss chocolate maker business man who has come while spending nearly a month in Ecuador to do an immersion Spanish education; Ray a retired Bermuda food importer and his son Aaron - a naturalist/botanist who really added to our enjoyment of the trip; and the two of us.  All our meals are shared and the good news is the company of our group is excellent (we never ran out of things to talk about LOL)

Cocoa is nothing to write about- an oil town that didn't exist before they found oil in the jungle along the river in the early 1970s- it didn't look to have anything you would want to stay for except the incredibly hip and happening (LOL) Apocalypse Now style river front bar in the abandoned airplane-

While we waited for the staff to get situated we saw our one and only (but we didn't know it yet) spider monkey

we got ourselves and our hand luggage into the canoe we would use for the next five days as our method of transportation - always with life jackets!- and headed off down river to meet our boat-

our first sighting of the Manatee-

our cabin - the Toucan-

the "lounge" -

the "sun deck" - and this is about as much sun as we would see for the next five days-

rubber boots- there is a reason they line the deck - ours would be given to us on the morning of day two and we would use them until the day we left-

our little "canoe" - used for all expeditions from the boat- sometimes we stayed in the canoe (no boots) and sometimes we got out (wearing the boots)

we started off with lunch during which we learned that one of our engines had gear problems and the gear box was being torn apart  and possibly (the best case) rebuilt... this may change the itinerary a bit  but for now we can go down river with one engine... the change will be in how far we can go down river because we can't come back as fast if we only have one engine- (rather than keep you suspense I will reveal that the engineer was able to rebuild it with parts he had and everything ended up going as planned)...

the food was good and the dining service staff - as all the staff- really hospitable and interested in making sure everyone was happy.  The boat has seen better days- but there are advantages of this method of exploration over a lodge- among them - less time in transport in the canoe to see the "sights" and no worries about insects as we are on a fast moving river... therefore we can forgo the malaria meds (excellent news since we have already both had stomach issues and the malaria meds side affects tend to be in the stomach area) AND- we had AC which no lodges have but since we have engines and generators - we can keep cool and more importantly in this humidity- somewhat drier than we could have if we had done the lodge version of the Amazon trip-

here are some photos I took along the river -

we came back to the boat late in the day- sun sets at 6 and rise at 6 here at the Equator- LOL

dinner was served

more on the expeditions we took in further posts-

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