This past weekend, I traveled to a wonderful little town called Huasquila. It used to be super deforested, but the ecological movement swept through and it’s now 1) being reforested, 2) an ecological reserve and prime spot for ecotourism, and 3) still a biodiversity hotspot. Here’s a photo summary of what we did:
^ We went spelunking in the Jumandi Caves in Tena (no pics because it was super wet) and ended our adventure with maito, an Ecuadorian dish in which meat or fish is cooked in a banana leaf. Que rico (literally translates to “how rich,” which can be used for food, an experience, or even a bed. Whatever you like or feels/tastes/etc. good!)!
^ Here’s the bungalow hut we stayed in when we reached Huasquila. The inside was really nice too, but I didn’t take pictures of it boo. Although I did find a tarantula in the bathroom and a cockroach in my bed… hm…
^ Here we started our hike through the rainforest! Our guide was super legit and made tons of random things with stuff in the rainforest. Oh yeah, did I mention that we all got climbing sticks? Michelle got the only snake shaped one and that’s why she looks super cool here.
^ The guide made me a crown! I felt like an Amazonian queen haha. He also painted my face with natural orange dye we found bleeding from a tree… lol. And on my hand is what’s nicknamed “dragon’s blood.” It’s traditional herbal medicine that’s extracted from a tree that’s supposed to be good for sore throats and stuff.
^ Here’s the super awesome waterfall we found (or cascada) and kinda jumped into! It was actually really cold but yeah, it was so much fun!
^ We visited a farm owned by our guide. He had a lot of cacao trees, which were unfortunately attacked by a plague. But he still had some good ones and we got to eat them! Yes, these are the same things you make into chocolate. But when it’s like this, you just put the seed in your mouth, such on the white stuff, and spit the seed out. It reminded me of guava. If you don’t know what Ecuadorian guava is because you didn’t read my post about it (dude, read my blog posts. Bookmark my blog. There’s a lot of exciting stuff on it), check it out here: https://karenli1.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/how-to-eat-guava-not-usa-guava-ecuadorian-guava-holla/
^ We visited the Kichwa town of our guide! So technically, the town is modernized, as in, they have running water and cell phones, but their indigenous roots are still strong. Outsider visits are actually a new thing they’re doing to generate income. You see, the people are trying to find alternatives to make money by ways other than deforestation. As much as they love nature, it’s a tough life when you have to decide between some trees and your family’s well-being… Anyway, for this reason, they’re opening their town up to outsiders to 1) learn about their traditional Kichwa culture, and 2) sell their homemade artisanal goods for income. It was only their fourth week doing this when we visited, so we got to provide them with feedback with what we thought and how to improve. Nevertheless, it was an amazing cultural experience and I got to practice my Kichwa with some of the kids!
^ I learned to shoot blowdarts. There was a baby papaya about thirty feet in front of me. I missed the first time, but I was like “no, no, I gotta get it” so they let me go again. And yeah, I got it the second time!
^ These girls were so cute. I asked them in Kichwa what their names were (Ima shutitak kankichik?) and after that, they kept following me and talking to me.
^ On our last day, we went to an animal rescue center? Actually I’m not sure what it was. I think it’s just called a zoo in Spanish, but apparently they take in injured animals and try to protect endangered animals.
^ Unfortunately, the facilities were not so good and it was more like an animal prison. But it’s better than what the animals would have faced outside of this place? For example, this lion up here was rescued from a traveling circus. You couldn’t tell at first, but this is indeed a male lion. However, it was castrated by the circus and because of some hormonal reasons, can no longer grow a mane. So this place took it in and is taking care of it.
^ Yep, this was part of the “zoo” too. It’s like a bamboo… canopy? I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s super pretty, eh? Oh yeah, a few minutes before this photo was taken, some Ecuadorians just started taking pictures of us. How ironic right? We went to the zoo to see animals, but we were the ones who were being treated like exhibited animals. Sigh, the life of a foreigner in Ecuador…
Anyway, it was a super duper mega full fun weekend I’ll never ever forget! Woo!!!!!!