Quistococha Reserve, Pink Fresh Water River Dolphins

 

Iquitos is a loud and busy place. 25,000 mototaxis ply the  streets for business. It is said to have close to half a million inhabitants.

Have pictures of Belem. The ‘Venice’  of Iquitos or of Peru. It is considered a district of Iquitos.  People build their homes on balsa rafts. There are electric utility poles running through parts of the district.  Cannot tell how they put in concrete poles. Maybe these areas are dry during some of the year.  Belem is home to the cities poorest.  You still need to get a permit to built your floating home but the cost per year is negligable.

The market is nothing short of stunning.  Jungle medicines… packets of Ayhuasca in powder or conconctions in bottles are seen on display in parts of the market. Fish of recognizable and (to me) non descript nomenclature are seen. Meat of butchered turtles, and caiman are vended. Fruits and vegetables of kinds I have never seen. Amazing place.

After my  traveling companions (from Nuevo Rocafuete to Iquitos) left, I spent a couple more nights in Iquitos. Then found out how to travel by road to Nauta, a Westbound journey on the only (public) road in the Western Amazon basin.

Will devote this entry to Quistococha when I can upload pics. It was there that I witnessed the antics of a trained pink river dolphin. I was gifted with a  watercolor painting created by this delightful creature. Have video of him grasping the brush in his teeth and gently applying the paint to the piece of paper that was held by one of it´s trainers.  Amazing!

More later. Just wanted to create a blog space that I can edit/add to later.

 

Coca, Ecuador To Nauta Peru

Long gap between posts due to the fact that there is no internet service in Nuevo Rocafuerte, Santa Clotilde, nor Mazan as of this writing.  The speeds at the ten or so internet cafes in Iquitos are maddeningly slow. Am now in Nauta… internet speeds are slow but adequate for email.

River journey from Coca to Nuevo Rocafuerte (on the Rio Napo) took a full 8 hours. The boat I took was managed by the municipality of Francisco de Orellana (Coca).  Set fare is 15 dollars. You will get a written reciept.  It is a minimum of an 8 hour journey.

The boat was about 60 feet long with a 10ft. beam… needle like.  Powered by two 100hp Yamaha outboards. Boat has a plastic tarp roof covering all the passenger area, and sides that roll down in case of blowing rain. There were about 30 passengers on board at the start. Boat stopped to drop off passengers at various locations on both sides of the river.

Lucky me, I struck up a conversation with a man (travelling with his wife) who is a full blooded Huarani. The man works for Petroamazonas now. He showed me pictures of some of his family members who live about 70km or so into the interior jungle environment, near Rio Curarray.  He invited me to stay with his family sometime. We exchanged emails. His wife took a pic of me sitting next to him.  I explained that this trip I want to get as far as Leticia down the Amazon, but maybe I could visit next year.

Boat stopped only 2 times other than to discharge passengers, once for a toilet break and once for lunch. Boat stopped at Panacocha for lunch. Just so happens that during that 20 minute lunch break, the president of Ecuador was there speaking to a small crowd of locals and generating support for the new government initiative to begin expoiting oil resources in the Yasuni National Park.  Some folks are happy because of all the jobs and new business created. Some folks are not happy because of the deforestation and the possibility of future oil spills or other potential damage.

Arrived in Nuevo Rocafuerte about 5:30PM the day of departure from Coca.

Only two hostels available in Nuevo Rocafuerte, the river border town of Ecuador/Peru. No internet service available. No bank/ATM service available.  Stayed 4 nights in Nuevo Rocafuerte. Hired a local guide, name of Ronnie Cox. Being a guide into the Yasuni National Park is his only occupation.  His canoe is made of wood and he takes a spare outboard motor in the canoe… so a back up is available if need be.

On the day of my tour I sighted both species of river dolphin. (pink and grey).  Ronnie knows the habits of the Yasuni critters pretty well. We drifted near the banks in a certain area of the river that leads into the Hatuncocha lagoon.  It took no longer than 5 minutes before we saw swirls on the surface.  These animal are in their wild habitat and they were hunting for small fish.  They surface and submerge again very quickly. Just long enough to get a glimpse of thier head, small dorsal fin and tail.  Breathtaking! Freshwater river dolphins in their native habitat!

Before the end of the day I had seen several wild monkeys, spiders and capuchins. Spotted a few wild red and green macaws flying.  Saw many new and different (to me) aquatic plants.  We saw an older man and his wife in a very small canoe fishing and stopped to say hello and ask how the fishing was going.   No luck, they reported.  We arrived safely back in Nuevo Rocafuerte well before dusk.

As of this writing, there is no regularly scheduled boat service to Peru from Nuevo Rocafuerte. There are any number of folks with canoes who will gladly take you to Pantoja, the river border town in Peru. There is a set fee below which, no one in Nuevo Rocafuerte will go.  A minimum fee of 50 dollars will get you to Pantoja in a canoe. It is a downriver trip of less than an hour and a half. Things change quickly these days.  There is talk of  a new boat service from Coca to Mazan sometime before 2015.

Ronnie, the  Yasuni guide, called around and found that there was a boat leaving on Monday at 4PM from Nuevo Rocafuerte (originating from Coca) and going all the way to Mazan.  I had all my gear ready and was waiting on the dock when it arrived. Spoke with the captian.  The captain of the Juan Andres had been an Ecuadorian park ranger for many years, now retired,  and had recently bought and outfitted this boat and had hired a man who knew the river (Napo) to ‘drive’ the boat.  I booked passage for 120 dollars from Nuevo Rocafuerte to Mazan. Passage only.   Passengers are responsible for food and overnight expenses. Boat stops overnight in Pantoja and in Santa Clotilde.

Only a short hour and half from Nuevo Rocafuerte to Pantoja. First stop is at a military checkpoint for the Peruvian folks to check out the boat and its contents. This being the first time for this boat, captain, and crew member… they informed him of things of which he was aapparently unaware. Fortunately for us, the passengers, it was only time consuming.  Later, the boat ran aground on a sand bar and captain and crew member had to get out to get us going again. We arrived in Pantoja riverside dock just befor dusk.

The following is a condensed  version of Pantoja to Nauta, Peru, where I am now:

There were only two passengers on the boat when I boarded in Nuevo Rocafuerte, Ecuador.  A 22 year old German woman and a retired Ecuadorian/American who had lived in New York for 30 years, who has children who live in L.A. and Paris.  We got to know one another on the journey and even went on a junge tour out of Iquitos together.

Pantoja to Santa Clotilde takes about 8 and a half hours. Picked up many new passengers in Pantoja who were enroute to Iquitos.  Three of them were Peruvian soldiers in civilian garb. Many mothers with children.  People were dropped riverside as on the municipal boat.

Arrived Santa Clotilde late in the day, nearly dusk. Checked into one of the three hostels there. At least had running water… no running water in room in Pantoja.  Had athsma for many nights. Sleepless, restless.  No internet services nor bank ATM services in Santa Clotilde.

Next AM on river at 6AM. Enroute to Mazan. After nearly a week of ‘lazing’ downriver arrival at Mazan was a shock. Everything was hustle, hustle, hustle.

Arrived in Iquitos less than an hour after arrival at Mazan dockside.

Spent a week in Iquitos. Internet is so painfully slow that I did not bother attempting to update the blog.  Have many photos and vids from Coca onward but will not upload them till I get to internet with much faster speeds.

Iquitos has ten or so internet cafes, but the speeds are unbearably slow.  It is also very hot and humid.  Often took 3 or 4 showers per day.  Decided to traverse the only ‘road’ that exists in the Western Amazon region. Iquitos to Nauta. Not much info on the web about Nauta.

Took a van from Iquitos to Nauta this noon.  Cost: 10 soles. Approximately 100km journey. Takes less than 2 hours. Many folks disembark from Yurimaguas, Peru  (upriver on the Rio Maranon) in Nauta and take a van to Iquitos…. cuts 6 to 8 hours off the boat ride.

Internet speed in Nauta is still very slow, but faster than in Iquitos. Probably because  fewer people in Nauta being online.  Iquitos population is nearing  a half million, according to some reports. Nauta is obviously much smaller.

Am toying with the idea of going upriver to Yurmaguas aboard a cargo boat (minimum two days on the Rio Maranon). Possibly visit the Pongo de Manseriche… a very steep/deep canyon on the Maronon.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pongo_de_Manseriche

Then, possibly spend some time in Yurimaguas and Tarapoto…. then maybe go to Pucalpa.  If I do this,  I will have experienced the main river routes (The Napo, the Ucayali and the Maranon) leading to the Amazon river from the West.

Adventures are like this… not 100% cast in stone. Things change, like the currents of rivers… or the changes of the seasons.  All is uncertain except one´s conscious connection with the context of BEING alive.

 

 

Francisco De Orellana

I just spent over an hour creating a fairly complete new post and was about to hit publish and whammo this computer shut down. (am at an internet cafe… my puter is not charging)

This will be short. I will edit it later.

Am in Francisco de Orellana, directly on the Napo river. The place is known to locals as Coca.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_de_Orellana

My puter wont charge so here is a photo link to the place:https://www.google.com.ec/search?q=francisco+de+orellana&biw=1366&bih=605&noj=1&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=JxzXUqjjK-misQSznIGICA&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ

I did send an IM OK signal with the Spot device last night. There were builidings around. I did make an effort to be near clear sky. Do not know if message was delivered.

Am boarding a boat to Nuevo Rocafuerte tomorrow morning. Boat departs 7:30AM. I was instructed to be on the pier with all my poop in a group by 7AM. Will do that. Not hard really, the front door of my hostel is about a 30 second walk to the pier.

Bought the ticket this morning. This service is run by the municipality of Francisco de Orellana, locally known as simply Coca. There was an office named Fransicco de Oreallana  Fluvial Transporte right at the port. There are 3 other services available. Two private and one other municipal service run by Nuevo Rocafuerte, where I am headed.

Ticket price: 15 dollars.  Was informed that the journey is expected to take about 8 hours. Expected time to tie up at the Nuevo Rocafuerte dock: about 4:30PM.

My cough is going away and I have finished my 5 days of anti biotic treatment. Sleep is much improved. Nasal congestion is under control.

Will have Spot device, with fresh batteries, on tomorrow during the journey. If left on, it will automatically send a track signal every 10 minutes. I will not leave it on all the time. Plan to turn it on for 10 to 15 minutes of every hour or so of the trip.  The river is wide enough that there will be open sky all around.  Will send an IM OK message when I locate my hostel in Nuevo Rocafuerte.

Am hot and tired. Got a lot done today in preparation for the trip.  Will get a good nights rest and be ready to board the vessel heading to Nuevo Rocafuerte (also on the Napo) tomorrow AM. Will post something from there, if there is internet servise. Might be possible, might not. If not, I will be faithful in sending the Spot signals. Plan to be in Nuevo Rocafuerte for maybe two days at most… then board another boat… next stop… is Pantoja… first stop in Peru.

May the FORCE be with you.

Back in Tena

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tena,_Ecuador

I hopped a bus from Misahualli (hostel location) to Tena as planned and reported in previous entry.

https://www.google.com.ec/search?q=misahualli&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=LifUUujEJoT1kQeN5YCwCw&sqi=2&ved=0CCUQsAQ&biw=1559&bih=817&dpr=0.9

It´s Monday. Arrived here with my dc charging adaptor AND my laptop. Went back to the tech shop. They opened up a ´universal´ adapter package and found the correct plug that fits the jack on my laptop. No light.  Not charging. They shrugged. Said that they do not stock the parts in the store. Said I needed to go to Quito to find a place that might get me the parts.

Came here to the internet cafe. Checked online for possible solutions to the issue. Seems that it is very common for laptop dc jacks to fail. Sometimes the internal pin wears out and the fitting is noticeably loose. (not in this case… the fit between my charger plug and the laptop jack is firm).  The other common thing is that the solder points that connect the dc jack (inside the laptop case) to the motherboard often break.

Seems to me that this exact thing happened to me in Mexico and it took a tech about a week to fix.  Checked internet sites that suggested several options. Many of those options are not valid in my current circumstances. I must exit Ecuador in about 10 days, the time allowed on my visa is running out.  Therefore, any solution that takes longer than 10 days will not work.  Surely, getting parts or leaving my laptop at a tech shop would take longer than that.

Thus, I will no longer be posting photos to the blog until I resolve the issue.

From where I am staying, I can walk out onto the sidewalk and within two minutes be looking at the Napo river.  I checked with the local tourist guides. Was informed that a canoe trip from Misahualli to Coca would  take a minumum of  5 hours… downriver to Coca. Then, the operator owner would have to fight the current back home, probably 8 hours or so. Cost for one person 300 dollars.

Because my plan has me being on the Napo all the way to the Amazon river and then on the Iquitos… minimum of a week travelling by boat during daylight hours, I saw little value in the solo canoe trek from Misahualli to Coca. I will be seeing plenty of river.

Many Ecuadorian tourists visit Misahualli on the weekends. It is a very laid back place and is easy to get to. Local tour guides have sidewalk offices.  Probably six or seven within a five minute walk. Naturally, the more people that go on a tour, the more cost effective it is for everyone. No longer are there regular canoe treks to Coca (Francisco de Orellana) as in the days before the road to it was built 30 or so years ago.  Not many tourists are interested in that long a journey; especially since they can hop in their car or hop a bus and arrive in a little under 2 hours, for the cost of a good meal.

All of these local guide services  have created their own variations of a ´set tour´,   designed to satisfy the curiosity of the average tourist desirous of a jungle tour.  There is a stop at a Cocoa (the tree from which chocolate is made)  museum and a stop at an índigenous community´where you will see native costumes and dances, a stop for a ´medicinal plant´ hike.  To get to these places you ride on one of the motorized canoes.  So a tourist, unfamiliar with these place gets a very real sense that they are experiencing the real thing.

Having grown up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, I sense some similiarities to the tours that were offered there, tours like the Jungle Queen http://www.junglequeen.com/.   First similaritiy is that the tourist gets a boat ride.  Most Jungle Queen tourists feel as though they are visiting the Everglades.  Really they are going through residential neighborhoods on local canals. The boat went to a ´Seminole Indian village´ and tourists saw  young men wrestling alligators.

The thing is that no one actually lived in the so called´village´. These Seminoles had become more like actors and actresses, putting on a performance for tourists. The men and women were real Seminole people. The alligators were real enough, but the whole tour was really created as a tourist performance.  I get the same feeling in Misahualli.

Surely, this much closer to the real thing than what I remember from my Florida days… this is the REAL Amazon basin.  The Shuar, Ashuar, and Waorani here are real  indigenous people.  The animals are real. The river is real. The climate is real. The canoes are not navigating canals that pass through densely populated residntial neighborhoods, as in Florida.

The local indigeous ´village´ is probably not fully inhabited. I would guess that some people live there all the time, but most others may have small homes in town. They probably have  constuction jobs or maybe they fish or manage a small farm or have family who run a small store, or restaurant, or hostel… or tour agency in town.

It´s all good. I am happy for everyone just exactly as it is.  These tribal folks have an easier existence than their elders.  They are adapting to life in the ´modern´ world.  Electricity, television, smart phones, internet, motors for their canoes, different kinds of medical care, tourists from all parts of the world. We are all adapting. These folks are no exception.

Plan to get a bus to Coca this week. Will have to go through the usual seek and find process. Need to locate a hostel near the river and then walk around and get the scoop on boarding a boat heading for Nuevo Rocafuerte, the last Napo river town in Ecuador… where I will get my  passport stamped exiting Ecuador.  From there, I will need to find a launch to Pantoja, also a Napo river town but in Peru, where I will get my passport stamped officially entering Peru.

I do not know if there will be realible internet available after departing Coca. Plan to make post at least one more entry from there prior to boarding the first boat.

Will make sure I have plenty of batteries and will use the Spot device regularly while on the river journey.

Proably will be able to find a good computer tech in Iquitos, a city of a half million people.  That´s the plan.

 

 

Tena

Am in Tena at the moment.  Am posting this entry from a sidewalk  internet cafe.  Good thing is that I remembered my id and password to log on.  That means that my memory is still working fairly well. Bad thing is that my computer decided to act up. Temporarily unable to upload pics, till I get my puter back.

Last night  computer failed to charge. Don´t know if  the problem is the charging unit itself or the connection into the computer.  Brought the charging unit with me to Tena to see if I could locate a tech who can help.  Located a tech but was told that I need to bring not only the charging cable, but need to have the laptop as well.

It being mid Saturday and it being so that my hostel is about 45 minutes from here, and I need to catch a bus to get there, and tomorrow being Sunday (closed), it looks like I will be without a means of blogging properly until Tueday at the earliest.

Had the most restful sleep last night that I´ve had in over a week. Sleep was disturbed a few times by monkeys clamoring around on my tin roof overhead. They do make a racket. Then; begins the crowing of roosters… followed by the gradually increasing street noises of truck engines and doors slamming,  as the town becomes fully awake. All towns have a rhythm and a beat of their own.

Misahualli may be a sleepy little jungle ville, but it has it´s own unique sense of sound and of time. Two rivers converge there. The Misahualli, and the Napo.

Before a road was built between Tena and Coca (also known as Francisco de Orellana) the only way to get to Coca was by river. It is in the town of Coca where I will be boarding my first boat down the Napo river.  If you Google map or Google Earth either Misahualli or Coca, you can see the route. It will be a winding one. I will enter Peru in Pantoja.  From there, several tiny river villes later, I will arrive at Iquitos… on the great Amazon river.

Taking the new meds faithfully, as prescribed. Was up and down about five times to use the bathroom (was encouraged to drink a lot of water)  but my breathing is much improved and my nasal passages remained unblocked throughout the night. Much improved sleep condition.

I will kick this respiratory thing in the butt once and for all. The enjoyment of the future experience demands it.

Despit the fact that this place is clearly not the USofA, it is evident that folks here are pretty much the same as elsewhere.  They have families, friends, jobs, hobbies, tv, internet, smart phones, tablets, sports, music, beliefs, governments, taxes, áuthorities´ … etc.  They may handle the above in slightly different ways, but they are present issues. Seems to me that the differences between people´s behaviors stem from differences in their relative, immediate natural environment and the habits that were formed from dealing with the respective natural environment.

Different environmental factors demand different ´survival strategies´.  Apart from those differences, human beings are pretty much the same everywhere.

Will enter next post when I return to Tena with my charging device AND my laptop. (Monday)

 

Puyo

P1000642Replica of shrunken head in Gualaquiza

I can feel the heartbeat of the Amazon.  I’m on the edge of it. Rainy season. Yesterday was the first day I did not see the sun. Cloudy and light rain all day.  Same thing today. Anything as big as a ditch is now boasting itself into a stream and a stream is bragging that it is a river.

P1000802Taken while walking along the rio Puyo

There is a ‘paseo’ that runs along the bank of the Puyo river.  There are three foot bridges that span the river along the 6ft wide pathway that is covered in paving blocks.  Length is about 2km end to end. Was begun about thirty years ago to encourage tourism.

P1000813Suspension footbidge

You can easily see that you ARE in the amazon basin from this ‘close to civilization’ pathway. Huge leaves on some trees. Palms, ferns, bird of paradise, crotons,  different varieties of bamboo, and much, much more.  Leaves of various sizes and colors are seen to lay on the pavers. A few spots where you may venture closer to the bank of the river, rocks embedded in very slippery mud. I was very careful.  P1000797Mud is deep red in spots

Saw a medium sized rodent like critter in the pathway ahead of me. Must not have had great eyesight, because it got within 30 feet of me before scurrying away.  Was not fast enough on the draw to get a picture. I am sure that it was an agouti.

Along this ‘easy’ walk (paving stones underfoot)  all you need do is to look to your left or across the river to see that treking through the jungle is not an easy thing to do.  You can see how easy it would be to become disoriented. It is DENSE. Easy to see that the plants would envelope you on all sides and there is no way to orient yourself. It all looks alike. Without finding a ‘clearing’ it would feel almost like being wrapped in plants.  Without the sound of moving water or other device, a person unfamiliar with it could get spooked very easily.  The sun light only filters down to the floor.  There is no ‘sky’.

Anyone who has experienced this will come away with an abiding respect for the humans who inhabited this terrain for thousands of years prior to the arrival of any European.  They did not have the benefit of metal tools. Had to fashion whatever tools they had from the jungle itself. Rocks, vines, hollow tubes. They would have had to develop a skill set that would include an intimate knowledge of all the plants and animals in this environment. Without that intimate knowledge, it is clear, that they would not have survived very long.

And I’m just on the ‘edge’ of it. Imagine just setting off across the river and into the jungle.  I extends for tens and scores and hundreds of miles.  No roads, only what you hack your way through. No shops. No electricity. No cities. You may stumble into an indigenous settlement. Forget English or Spanish or any other European or Asian language.  That is how it was as few as fifty years ago.

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Local Gualaquizan archaeological finds

Things are changing rapidly. Nearly all of the indigenous tribal peoples do learn Spanish these days. Now you may come across a dirt road built by a petroleum engineering team or some other group of mineral hunters or loggers or people growing things that they do not want anyone to know about… you know what I mean.

I took the photos of the replica shrunken head at the start of this entry in Gualaquiza. I knew that the Shuar people were known to engage in this practice. They developed it originally as a means of scaring their neighboring tribes, don’t come this way, or else.  In times past it was a normal part of tribal existence.  Things change. Now many a Shuar is working as a construction, agricultural or petroleum worker.

The young man who was managing the local Gualaquiza tourism board office shared a story with me.  I mentioned that I had heard that the practice of shrinking heads had stopped about 30 years ago or so.  Was informed of a recent incident (two years ago) of a head that turned out to be real… not a replica.  As the story goes, there was an investigation and what was discovered was that some ‘collector’ had made an offer of 1000 dollars for a ‘real’ one.  He did not have a particular head in mind,  so long as it was real.

So, a while back, the Shuar (and a very few others) performed this practice as a means of ensuring that their favorite hunting grounds were not populated by competing tribes. These days, the same tribal people know about how things work in the ‘civilized’ world. They didn’t need to see the Smith Barney commercial (…money the old fashioned way…) to understand that money is how things are done in the ‘modern’ world.  The more you have, the more ‘power’ you have. Along comes an offer of 1000 bucks for something that you once heard your folks talking about and whamo, off comes some poor fellow’s head.

Not to worry though, the ‘practice’  is no longer in vogue.  There are representative members of nearly every tribe now learning the ‘power of government’. They can be seen in an number of street protests countrywide and in the capital.  They are learning the ways of ‘civilization’.

Maybe they will be encouraged to deal with political scoundrels a bit differently.  Remember the French Revolution? Seems that Joseph-Ignace Guillotin and the Shuar had similar notions about how to handle people that they deemed to be a problem.

Spending a second night in Puyo.  Still fighting off this nagging respiratory thing. Got a few more anti biotic pills and some cough syrup. Taking it slow and easy till I get my breathing back to normal. Then,  will gradually add more exercise. The jungle does not cater to the weak.

Loja to Gualaquiza

P1000531Somewhere between Loja and Zamora. Highland cloud forest.

Departed Vilcabamba 11AM Monday. Vilcabamaba to Loja took about an hour.  Next leg was to get a bus from Loja to Gualaquiza. That ride took me through Zamora, Yantzaza, El Pangui and a few other small villes. Bus departed Loja about 2PM. It was cloudy and partly sunny, partly rain during the trip.

Passed through Zamora, Yantzaza, El Pangui and several other small villes on the route from Loja to Gualaquiza.

P1000571Large statue at a traffic circle on the North side of Zamora.  Man is panning for gold.

Mostly flat to slightly rolling is the road from Zamora to Gualaquiza. We are always not far from a river.

P1000605Bridge at Yantzaza

Dusk became dark as the bus approached the town of El Pangui. This seemed to be the biggest ville after Zamora.  There was a small circus in town.  And the people here do what they can to keep themselves amused.  A volleyball match was going on within a couple blocks of the bus station.

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Photos of El Pangui

Arrived Gualaquiza about 8PM. Long ride, beautiful scenery. Located a hostel not far from the bus terminal and hit the sack. My breathing was not good. Still have either allergies to new pollen or I have a cold of some kind.  Recover a little then seem to relapse in a few days. Coughing, stuffed nose all night long. Tossing and turning, not restful sleep.

Next morning, I got to the bus station at 9AM. Only 5 or 6 buses proceed North from Gualaquiza to Macas.  I just missed one of those that departed at 8:30. Inquired at a pharmacy for possible medications to relieve nasal congestion. Described my symptoms. Was given 3 tablets of antibiotics. Told to take one per day. Also got some powder antihistimines for the schnazzola.  Walked around town for a few hours. Bus departed 2PM.

Ride from Gualaquiza to Macas is another 6 hours. The first thing you notice when heading Northboung from Gualaquiza is that you are ascending.  The scenery gets more intense the higher you go. Passed many different streams/rivers. So many that it is very hard to keep track of their names. One thing is sure. On the Eastern slope of the Oriental chain, all the water is headed for the Amazon.

Enroute to Macas you pass through Amazonias,  San Juan Bosco, Limon, Longona, and Sucua; as well as several other small villes.

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Bus window, SanJuanBosco square, Longona public info

Arrived Macas around 8PM. Checked into a hostel across from the bus station. Same drill at night. Symptoms are much less aggravating during the day, in an upright position. At night, symptoms worsen and both nostrils were clogged all night. Had to rest sitting upright, and got very little sleep.  There was real hot water (only lasted about 5 minutes) coming from the shower.  Felt really good. Had a few crackers and raisins, took my meds and passed another fitful night.

P1000762El Presidente visited and spoke to the Macas crowd earlier that morning. Elections are 23 Feb.

Checked out of the hostel and arrived bus terminal at 11AM. I had checked the night before. Plenty of buses from Macas to Puyo.  Boarded one departing at 11:20.  Three and a half hours later I arrived in Puyo. Ride was generally  flat.  Passed many small farms, very tropical feel. Rained the entire way.  Can only remember that Veracruz was a small town just South of Macas.

There is a local tourism board office inside the Puyo bus station. I asked if I could leave my two cases there to walk around a bit and locate a hostel.  Received a positive response and was assured my equipment would be secure. Many hostels to choose from within sight of the station. Checked out 5 of them. Picked the one closest with internet included. It was the cleanest as well.

Had a plateful of fried rice with shrimp and chicken. Got some cough syrup, and back to my room. The room is large, comfortable bed, has hot water shower and wi fi.

Hoping to get some real sleep.

P1000429Strange erosion formations between Vilcabamba to Yangana

It’s time to move on.  Will be departing Vilca tomorrow morning. Will be using the Spot device from time to time during the day. Traveling by bus, I’ll only be able to hit the ‘tracks’ function when the bus stops for a  while.  Will hit the ‘I’m OK’ function when I check into my next hostel tomorrow night,  not exactly sure where that will be. I’m guessing somewhere N. of Zamora… exact location will be determined by road conditions and the bus venue.

Have re-established contact with friends and acquaintances in this quirky town. My gear is in trustworthy hands and will be secure until I return.  Feeling good about that. Am traveling with slightly less weight. All gear is weatherproof. No worries about rain. The electronic gear will need special attention in the high humidity. Need to store inside plastic bags in addition to being in the weatherproof luggage.

This place is changing rapidly (like everywhere else). Things are getting more expensive. New restaurants and shops are open. More Ecuatorianos as well as gringos are moving here. The usual and expected problems associated with population growth are happening here.  Even though I like the climate and have made friends here, I don’t think this is where I will choose to settle down.  Having lived through this phenomenon many times, I am familiar with the growth phase of places.  I prefer places with a slower rate of change. Still a few more places to explore before I finalize my choice.

The next phase of this journey is going to be unique in a few ways. There are not many places where humans live where there are no roads. That is where I am going.  Canoes and boats serve the transportation needs of the traveling public.  The rivers and smaller tributaries are the roads of the Amazon basin.  I will be experiencing the Rio’s Napo and the Western third of the Amazon river. Have decided to not bother with the Brazilian visa. This will allow me to focus more on the area that I will be experiencing. Now plan on ending my Amazon river trek in Leticia, Colombia. The ‘tres fronteras’ area, where Peru, Colombia, and Brazil all come together… right on the Amazon river.

P1000439View of hidden waterfall on road from Yangana to Cerro Toledo

This is the wet season, and the summer of S. America.  Therefore all of the tributaries will be in flood stage. No worries about navigation, plenty of water. Have been informed to expect hot and very humid conditions. Humidity levels nearly always in excess of 90 percent and often higher.

P1000445 Geodetic marker road to Cerro Toledo

SOME GOOD NEWS FOR ECUADOR: (from a newsletter that was sent to me)

—According to the actual video and talk ( by the founders of TOR) from the Chaos Communications Congress Dec 2013, in Germany, Article 474 of the Ecuadorian Penal Code ” the worst Data Retention Law you can imagine”  was REMOVED< GONE <ADIOS< TAKEN OUT of the Penal code by the National Assembly the end of November 2013.  Permanently.  

 Jacob Applelbaum and his colleagues from the TOR Community were able to work with Ecuador’s  Minga Tech Community who had created a real model  that should be emulated by the rest of the world.  In this model,  they were able to arrange community events that engaged Civil Society,  members of Ecuador’s  National Assembly and Foreign Ministers in CONVERSATIONS about the unforeseen consequences of  implementing this intrusive Dragnet data retention and Internet video camera surveillance system, and how the game was rigged by the software system itself.

It was explained by Jacob and the Tor people, that if Ecuador decided to spy on it’s citizens, (thru Article 474 ) the NSA wins, because this would make all of Ecuador’s stored data and information NO LONGER SECURE from the NSA….virtually the back doors created in this system would be a funnel for information to the NSA.

They convinced the lawmakers and ministers that they needed to choose a different paradigm. Because if Ecuador wants to be secure against those who would BREAK into that system, Ecuador must not have that system.    Thru these conversations and the work of Ecuador’s FLAP SOCIETY (sp?), and the people of Ecuador, they were able to defeat this Article in a matter of 3-6 months. If anyone would like to see/hear an uplifting account of how this occurred the actual 4 minutes describing this process go DIRECT  to the 55 minute marker into this  video:

   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SscFfzD_his&feature=player_embedded 

SOME NOT SO GOOD NEWS:

www.internationalrivers.org/resources/ecuador-s-most-spectacular-waterfall-threatened-by-chinese-funded-hydroelectric-project

Things are always changing.  I assign a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ to these items only as relates to my current personal point of view. I would like to think that there will still be Liberty for humans and some primary forest left for humans to experience. It is the loss of either of these possibilities that cause me a bit of concern.

Hence; my motivation for wanting to see things as they are now, before the changes occur.  Those that come after me will see whatever world they inherit as ‘natural’. If I had a magic wand to wave that would protect the natural world from harm and would ensure Liberty for those who come after me, I would wave it.

Big flows of history occur only as a result of MANY people working together towards a common goal.  Individually, we can only report potential outcomes and suggest (self-perceived) positive pathways.

I guess this is how it has ever been.

 

2 January 2014

P1000422Rio Yamburara

Call me a party pooper if you want to, but I didn’t leave my room on New Year’s Eve.  The music from the town square wafted (more like pounded) into my room all night until 4AM. I could hear the crowd all night long. Kind of like they brought the party to me… and I didn’t even have to look.  Been there, done that. It’s pretty much the same everywhere. Folks trying really hard to celebrate an event that happens every year… just like clockwork.

Time marches on…  Really? Who taught time how to march?  What is time?   Ever since the popularization of Einstein’s theories (special theory 1905… general theory 1915) the story is that only PhD level physicists are qualified to answer that question.

(By the way, Einstein would probably be mildly dismayed if he were alive today.  Here’s why: In 1933 a Dr. Dayton Miller did some homework that was confirmed in 1998 by Nobel laureate Maurice Allais.    —Allais wrapped it up thusly: “Consequently, the Special and General Theory of Relativity, resting on postulates invalidated by observational data, cannot be considered as scientifically valid.”— Bet you never heard about that on Nova did you?)

http://www.thunderbolts.info/wp/2013/11/29/common-misconception-9-who-disproved-einstein/

You don’t need a degree to have common sense.  Time, is nothing other than a relationship between material objects (big or small) and their relative positions in geography or space.  If matter did not move, there would be no sense of time at all.  If there were no such thing as ‘distance’, there would be no sense of time.   For a sense of time to occur there must be movement of objects (physical things) through the medium of geography (space).  The concept of time is a convenient way for humans to  express that relationship.  There is no such ‘thing’ as time. There is no such ‘point in space’ as time. There is only a relationship between a ‘thing’ and it’s relative location in space as it changes location (movement).

P1000485Cool clouds, huh?

Somehow, I don’t think any of the other creatures aboard planet Earth give a hoot or a howl how humans keep track of time.

We sure are an interesting species, I’ll give us that. Not sure how it all turns out, though.  Humans are not the only creatures on the planet, even though most folks don’t spend much time pondering the implications of that fact.  Our (human) history would lead one to speculate that the more knowledge that human creatures acquire, the more arrogant they seem to become. It is that very arrogance that may limit our potential tenure here.

In the early days of our development… or so the evolution story goes, humans were dumb brutes. Our ‘ancestors’, so we are now encouraged to believe, bore a  slight resemblance to modern day gorillas or chimps. According to the scientific classifications of life forms, humans are primates.

The problem with knowing any ‘truth’ is in the way that we think we ‘know’ it… and in the way we transmit or communicate a ‘truth’.

Language is apparently a tool that humans invented in an attempt to enlarge our capacity to survive.  It is an imperfect tool used by imperfect critters. The ‘language problem’.  Oh, God, are we back to that again? Yes, indeed, we are.

You see, just because the human creature matches a specific sound (spoken language) to a perceived phenomenon, it does not mean that the human creature comprehends anything about the phenomenon.  It is only that the phenomenon now has a ‘name’,  and that name is  meant to be distinct, so that a specific ‘word’ describes a specific thing.  Does it necessarily follow that we ‘know’ anything about the phenomena?  No, It means only that we have ‘defined’ something.

P1000483New Years Eve revelers must have had their way with the traffic light. Only 2 exist in town.

Is it really a ‘New Year’? Only by our agreed definitions of what a year is.  Is the concept of time useful? Maybe, it depends on one’s frame of reference. To a person who’s survival depends upon being at work at a specific time or they get fired, yes, time is ‘useful’.  For human ‘progress’, the idea of keeping track of time seems to be useful.

Do other creatures aboard planet Earth require the concept of time to survive? First off, we must deal with the word  ‘concept’.  Are other creatures capable of ‘conceiving’? How can we know for sure? Back to language again. It’s ALL in the manner in which we define: objects (nouns) or behaviors (verbs) and the finer descriptors of those parts of speech (adjectives and adverbs).  All we can say with any degree of certainty is that it appears to humans as though many other creatures do not have the ability to create devices (calendars, clocks, collections of decaying cesium atoms) that keep track of time. Other critters seem to have survived using only their senses to note the movement of objects in space… (time)

Do other creatures have a ‘sense’ of time?  Most creatures do seem to be aware of the movement of objects through space.  We know that most creatures have a relationship with the cycles of light and dark caused by the rotation of our planet, known as day and night. The sun is always ‘on’, which is a good thing for us. All creatures aboard planet Earth are affected in some way by the movements of the Earth in relationship to the sun. (probably one of the earliest ways humans calculated/defined time)

Humans have only recently begun to investigate the ‘forces’ or ‘energies’ that exist in our reality.  That is the real Einstein breakthrough. Newton let us linger in materialism. In the Newtonian paradigm it was ‘stuff’ that was predominant feature.  Sure, gravity was a force, but it was what it ‘did’ to the apple or other ‘things’ that was the focus of the investigation. Einstein taught us to pay more attention the energetic realities in which we swim. Emphasis on the ‘forces/energies’ and less focus on the ‘stuff’. That he didn’t get it all perfectly correct is normal, acceptable and understandable. He was a human.

The truth is, that human beings know very little. Just because it appears that the human creature is now the dominant critter aboard our planet does not make it so for ever. It could be a very temporary condition. It could be, and appears more and more so,  that our very  dominance has allowed us to create a biological imbalance aboard our home planet such that the conditions necessary for our survival are being incrementally diminished. If this is so, then human creatures must be willing to relinquish some ‘control’ and/or ‘domination’ of our planet to allow the biological forces, upon which our survival depends, to balance themselves.

P1000479A map of the area

The natural forces of our planet will indeed seek to balance themselves.  That is a certainty. The manner in which that balance is achieved is the issue for us.  Are humans necessary for the existence of the millions of other life forms aboard planet Earth? Or, rather, are the other life forms necessary for the existence of humans? We had better answer those questions correctly if the human creature is to continue as a viable life form here on planet Earth.

Which brings me to the Amazon.  I am about to experience a way of life that is as close as  humans can be to the forces of nature. There is little disagreement, that the Amazon rainforests contain the highest diversity of LIFE aboard our planet. Human activity has been very limited there, until recently.

It is my intention to witness the current conditions there, firsthand.  I want to experience real primary forest. The world as it was before humans acquired the knowledge that allows us to build machines that can  destroy scores of thousands of acres of thousand year old trees… in a generation.

I want to see for myself how humans are impacting what may be  the last remaining expanses of terrain where LIFE had opportunity to expand itself and exists in a state of what appears to be maximum symbiotic liberty.  The liberty of LIFE itself is being severely impacted by ‘civilized’ human creatures.  There continues to be human creatures who are not so ‘civilized’ who have lived there for thousands of years.

I do not know what I shall learn from this journey. It is my intention to learn something useful for my species. I am, after all, a human being myself. It is part of my ‘nature’ to want to see my species continue to exist.  What can I do? I do not know. Maybe my job is to simply observe and to report so that others may be inspired to alter their behavior in ways that will increase our mutual survival quotient.

Perhaps there is more to LIFE than any of us have yet gleaned. Who can know the truth of things?  Adventures are explorations into the unknown.  Certainty is a myth.