George of the Jungle (& being eaten alive!)

Trip Start Sep 26, 2009
Trip End Jan 06, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hotel Shaw

Flag of Ecuador  , Napo,
Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The lonely planet describes this place as a lazy jungle town, and it is just that - we loved it! I had heard about it from the rainforest man who came to Q'bury School when I was working there, to give a rainforest talk to the Geography students... he told us about the hostal (which is named after him - Dave Shaw!) Anyway, Misahualli is small, chilled and full of monkeys on teh edge of a river on the edge of the jungle. We booked into Hotel Shaw and booked a private tour for the two of us, as there was a lack of travellers around to group up with (it still worked out much cheaper than the other tours and we decided on the 2 day tour!)

We had an amazing time, our guide, Enrique, brought along his son (Paul - pronounced Pah-ooool!) He has 10 kids, between the ages of 8 and 32! After a night in Misahualli with our free light show (the sky was lit up all shades of blue / purpley with lightening) and a giant dinner of orange chicken, chips and rice, salad and beer... and breakfast courtesy of the hotel, we set our with ENrique y Paul through the jungle (in our wellies!) - wearing wellies, I assumed we wouldnt be hiking too much, but I was wrong! We set out a 8.30 and hiked through the rainforest until about 2.30 when we arrived by a river ... up and down, through streams... we had lunch (a picnic of tuna and cheese sandwiches, on a leafy bed which Enrique had chopped down for us) He showed us loads of things in the forest, cinnamon leaves, olbas oil tree, lemony leaves, we licked an anaesthetic bark (which they put on the end of arrows after boiling it up abit, to knock out the monkeys), we saw massive termite mounds, tons of herbal/jungle doctor remedies (leaves for post pregnancy, stomach pains, ridding bad spirits and headaches from those new to the jungle, parkinsons remedies etc etc) We also saw loads of mushrooms which Al became obsessed with taking pictures of... we then went off with Paul (who was only 13) whilst his dad went to find the man with the canoe - we got down to the river and jumped straight in for a swim, despite the murky colour of it - we were so hot and sticky...! The local kids came and swam with us, splashing and playing about in the water (after they gained the courage to come over...!) - I had got changed in the woods with some chickens! Anyway, our swim was really refreshing! We realised that we didnt take enough water with us (I thought Enrique was going to provide some for the second day!) so we started to ration it...which is really hard when you are so hot and thirsty!

After swimming, we got into a dug out canoe (he had shown us the tree's earlier that they make them out of), and we headed down stream to our cabin for the night. It was on the edge of the river, with no paths leading to or from it, all you could hear was the sound of the river and the forest (and what sounded like a demented cow in the distance!) - Just a hut and a covered eating area...simple and rustic, just what we wanted. They asked if we would be okay in a matrimonial bed, which we said yes to... it ended up meaning, "do you mind sleeping stuck together on the bottom bunk bed?"

However, we were so thirsty, we were starting to dream about drinking anything... visualising cold drinks all day - there wasnt much I wouldnt have done for a cold drink then!

We were eaten alive (as expected in the rainforest) despite our 50% deet and wearing long trousers, long sleeves, socks etc etc (in that heat!) Anyway, Enrique noticed me scratching like a loony so gave me a lemon to rub on the bites, which worked... for a bit!

Dinner was soup (YAY - liquid to drink, we had completely run out by now!), loads of tea and chicken and rice! we had an early night - no night hike as there were no paths but probably a good job as Al runs about like a little girl when things fly around him... and we had both just freaked out when a giant flying cockroach had landed on my lap during dinner! WE kept hearing these massive bangs on the tin roof and asked what it was (I thought maybe coconuts falling off the trees...) and Enrique just said "Cocha rachies" - cockroaches! We chatted to Enrique abit about San Pedro and Ayurhuasca and the role of the Shaman in the communities whilst Paul was snoring quietly in his hammock... and then to bed...

There was an almighty storm in the night, the rain was pounding down on the tin roof, with the cockroaches banging on it too, thunder and lightening... I was quite glad to be in the tiny bottom bumk with Al, apart from being stuck to him, and him puffing and panting and moaning that he couldnt breathe - whilst pushing me closer and closer to the edge of the mozzie net, which I thought wouldnt protect me from the giant cockroaches or worse if my face was stuck against it!

Breakfast was at 8, pancakes and scrambled egg - we went to look at the river, and it had risen loads, and was flowing so much faster - the canoe was still tied to the tree though so it was okay!

We canoes across the river - I was pretty scared as it was wobbling all over the place... Paul rowing like crazy and Enrique using a pole to pole us up stream before floating back down whilst crossing! I was making ridiculous noises as I was scared (I remember my mum telling me about a time when we crossed a river when I was little... and made silly "oooh  ooooh" noises - it was like that) - Dad, if you remember where that was, let me know!

We walked for a few hours up to a Bella Vista (Mirador) - a good view of the river and forest, we could see Paul on the river with the canoe where he had rowed it up to meet us at a different point! We then headed back to the river, no path so Enrique just hacked a path for us, with his giant machete!

He told us about this ritual where the girls who want to be the forest princess, paint their faces and dress up with this lip flower in their mouth and then the men get a present from the forest (un regalo de selva), and presented Al with a penis... it was from this tree which grows penis shaped branches! We all giggled like school kids whilst he wrapped it up in a leaf and made it into a little handbag for me... which I skipped through the forest with on my arm!
(When we got back for lunch, he painted my face with this weird plant - red paint, and made me into the Princessa de Selva (Jungle Princess!) He showed us the electric fish tree (which heals parkinsons) and told us a story about a lady from Belgium who had received the treatment from the Shaman... and then my favourite part - Cacao. He chopped open the cacao to show us how they make chocolate and then let us taste the middle... around the beans is a melony type flesh...really nice. We got back in the canoe to go back to the cabin for lunch, and I just ate all the melony bits, spitting the cacao beans out! We had tuna spaghetti for lunch and lemony water (he had boiled some up for us in the morning too, after I explained our lack of water!) - It was a bit muddy tasting but okay!

After lunch we packed up, I got bitten more (58 bites on the back on my legs... just the back!), and headed downstream for 45 mins, over some little rapids as the river had risen so much, we beached on a rock in the middle at one point!, tied up the boat, walked across the bridge, got a bus… and then walked back to Misahualli along a hot, dry road… for about an hour…for a well deserved drink.  We downed a few inka colas and coke and went for a shower…

WE thoroughly enjoyed the forest, despite not seeing much wildlife, although we did see some birds and beautiful butterflies… we had an amazing time! Thanks to Enrique y Paul…! J
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