A trip to the Oriente--the true name of the Amazon area--which is a rain forest jungle--is truly an adventure where one relinquishes all
control to the whims of nature. If you can't "flow," falter at  inconveniences, are fearful of less than FAA approved air transport or want
your day to go as planned and structured, then choose another destination. On the other hand, if being awe struck by hundreds of greens
being lit by sun shimmering through tree canopies above you, if hearing monkeys and macaws chattering unseen in dense vegetation as
you float your canoe down a narrow Amazon tributary, if following an Achuar Indian through the jungle as he slices the way through with a
machete, if going to sleep with the gentle sound of water lapping at the stiltes holding up your cabana--if all this speaks to you, then you
must go. You will leave knowing that you have had one more glimpse into the grandeur and mysteries of God's awesome creation.  
And--you will know that we must be good stewards of the land He has created and placed in our care.  He has commanded us to do so.
For reasons I won't get into here, we, along with a family of 4, were to take a five hour bus trip to catch a little plane to take us deep into
the rainforest--foot or plane are the only way to reach this isolated location. Fortunately the bus was comfortable as our five hour journey
turned into nine long hours. The topography along the way was awesome but the roads were a disaster! At one point we had to detour around
a tunnel which had collapsed. The detour was a dirt, rutted road with hundreds of feet drop off down a deep chasm. As there was barely
enough room between the solid mountain wall on one side and the precipice on the other, the better part of retaining sanity was just to
ignore the potential for immediate destruction and trust the driver--who seemed nonplused by the whole thing. A little futher down the
road, we joined a long line of cars, trucks, and buses stopped dead in their tracks due to a major mud slide. Eventually an earth mover
rumbled down the road and shoved the mud and rocks off the cliff and we were able to continue after an hour and a half delay--all of this
was in the midst of blinding rain.  We finally made it to Shell--our destination--where we were supposed to have boarded  our plane several
hours previously.  But---it had been raining all day in Shell and at the dirt runway in the jungle and so the plane could not fly. We did not
get out until late the next afternoon--losing a day and a half of our time in the Rain Forest. A reminder that nature and its elements do not
bow to the wishes of man (generically used.) Of course, as we watched the wing of the plane being repaired with duct tape we wondered if it
were any safer flying without rain than with it.
Waiting at the mudslide--we were back many along way in line. The Hosteria we stayed at in Shell waiting for weather to clear,
Our sojourn in Shell and the little village of Cuyo gave us an unexpected treat--lending
credence to the philosophy that most things have hidden redeeming values. This area is
part of the Rain Forest-just at the outskirts of it where small, underdeveloped villages
exist. Nearby, down a mud, foliage surrounded road is a small complex which reclaims
Actually, before the shot he had a couple more climbing about.
Boas--Casey was utterly fascinated--wanted one of these, too.
and rescues wildlife taken from poachers who
capture animals to sell on the black market.  This
was a unique opportunity to see some of the jungle
denizens we would other wise not have seen--or at
least upclose and personal. For Casey this was a
real highlight.
These are rodents--whose name I can not recall.
A caiman--a small S. America crocodile
Guess what--Casey wanted a monkey!
Kapawi Lodge--which is primitive luxury--is located in one of the most remote areas of Amazoni where amenities are few but what there are
is amazing given its isolation. Hot water is scarce--one bag supplied by solar power hanging from the shower head and so if it rains--no hot
water. There is electricity. The cabanas are more like going to camp--far different facilities than in Africa--much more basic. The building
materials and techniques are those of the indigenous people. The air is steamy and wet--the sounds of the rainforest fill your ears--the
beauty is poignantly overwhelming.
Can you find the duct tape?
Landing strip in the jungle
Achuar boys--Welcoming Committee at Landing Strip
Transport down river to Kapawi Lodge
Entrance to our private cabana
Our cabana had three beds--the netting was most useful at night!
Casey on our cabana porch
After dinner that first night, Ken and Casey went for a nature hike through the jungle--looking for night animals, fungus, etc. It was very
dark with flashlights providing minimal illumination. I thought it was too late for Casey to handle but he had a wonderful time. His
excitment was contagious as he entertained me with descriptions of the various fungi and bugs. What a great opportunity for a young child
developing a sense of what the big, wide world is! Every time we were hiking thereafter, he would point out and name the fungi--some of
which is exquisitely beautiful.
Intrepid explorers ready for the night hike. It soon was quite dark!
The next morning I was up early for a bird watching drift down the river and into the  
tributaries with their encroaching branches and foliage--these were like small little alleys. It
was really quite special gliding down the river so early in the morning with the sounds of the
jungle surrounding us and assaulting our senses We heard the monkeys chattering away in
the tree tops although seeing them was a rare treat which only happened a couple of times.
As in Africa, it was amazing the way the guides were able to spot life far ahead in the tree
tops. Then the canoe would stop and we would peer at them through our binoculars. We saw
many species of birds--hawks, eagles, vultures, kingfishers, etc.  Unfortuantely, my
photographic skills are not up to capturing these beautiful creatures. Handling the binoculars
was challenge enough. There are as many species of birds here as in the continental United
States--somewhere around 520.
Capahuari River
Along the river
Morning along the river
One of the reasons we chose Kapawi Lodge is that it is more than just a foreign commercial venture. As the oil companies destroy the
rain forests, not only are the indigenous people losing the land which they have been one with and nutured for centuries, but also the
earth as a whole is being impacted. Kapawi Lodge has been developed by Canodros, an Ecuadorian development company. They currently
lease the land from the Achuar and are training the people to manage the lodge and serve as guides; they will turn the entire operation
over to the Achuar in 2011. These people, who were one of the head-shrinking tribes well into the 20th century, have now developed a
federation which allows them to protect their ancient rights and land.
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e-mail: jane@janeandken.com