Day 5 in Tena

We were scheduled to arrive in Tena around 2:30, but did not arrive until close to 6. We searched around for the check-in building and our local guide and driver asked several locals. After making several circles we abruptly stopped and our guide let a guy into our car. At first I was thinking "um, why did we just let some strange Ecuadorian into our van," but Rachel had seen that his shirt had the name of the place we were looking for so rather than having him point it out we decided to give him a lift and have him take us straight there. By the time we got checked in and headed to the jungle it was getting dark. Imagine driving through a very dense jungle in the dark. There were a few seconds of worry that we were about to be tethered to a pole and left there, not really warranted thoughts, but we did get the heebie jeebies.

We finally arrived at our jungle destination and the driver and guide unloaded our luggage. We blindly walked to our "hut" and were told to wait there until our jungle guide came back for us because he had to go back into town to get the other guide who would help prepare our dinner. So here we were, all 8 of us, in the middle of nowhere, no electricity, no water, just flashlights and a lot of questions. We attempted to get settled in, but quickly learned that the toilets did not flush and there was no running water in the sinks (this was more disturbing for some than others). Hey we were only going to be here one night and its like camping, except with lots of bugs. Being that I am pregnant it was not advisable for me to take the malaria medicine so I tried to stay doused in all natural bug repellent.

About and hour later our jungle guides returned and we headed to dinner. The food was very delicious, but we were all a little worried that we might have some ill reactions since it probably wasn't prepared in the most sanitary conditions. After dinner we had a cultural demonstration where some of the people from the local village sang and danced for us. By this time it was about 11pm and Blythe and I were ready for bed so we turned in, as did the rest of the clan. We got Blythe snuggled into the pack 'n play and put the mesquite net over it on hopes that she would stay mosquito free (the malaria mosquito's are out at night).

The next morning began about 6:30am with more dousing of bug spray and a great breakfast. After breakfast we all got fitted (or as best we could) into some rubber boots so we could start our trek into the "real jungle." Yes, we thought we were already in the jungle, but alas we were not. When we got to the entrance of the jungle we had a ceremony which included face paintings so that the jungle spirits would protect us from the jungle. Those are some strong jungle spirits because we all managed to make the hike without any bites! When I say hike, I really mean HIKE, we were going up hill pretty much the entire way, but when we got to the top it was SO worth it, what a view! We did not see many animals or birds as we thought we might in the jungle because most of them are nocturnal. Most of what we saw on the hike was plant life, which was pretty impressive I might add.

After the hike we went to the local village to see how they live and to see the children's Christmas celebration. O.K. so remember how I mentioned that it was like camping and we would be roughing it for 1 night? Well the accommodations that we had were luxury compared to how these people lived day to day. We had beds with mattresses, sheets, and a blanket, they had wooden planks with a sheet, luckily it is hot there and you pretty much want to strip down to your nickers anyway, but whose up for sleeping on wooden slats? I mentioned that the sink and toilet didn't initially work, but they did get them 'working'. The sink and shower only trickled and it was only COLD water and the toilet ran non-stop, but compared to the NO sink, NO running water, and a hole to use for the restroom, we were high class.

The children in this village typically start school at 5 years only and only go for 10 years. At 15 they are eligibly for marriage and they usually start having children soon after. We went and looked at their classrooms, there were about 4 of them. Pretty much 4 circular rooms with a few desk in them and if your lucky some art work on the wall. We then went to their gymnasium (cement with no walls) to see their Christmas production. They sang us a few songs and then we sang Jingle Bells to them. The kids and adults were in awe of Blythe, they wanted to take pictures with her and their kids and hold her. We got a couple of cute picture of Blythe and the natives.

Next we returned to our plush cabins and had a stone cold shower. After we showered we loaded up our luggage, had lunch, said our goodbyes, and headed to Papallacta.

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