A Travellerspoint blog

Day 2 in Amazonia

sunny 30 °C

Day 2 in Amazonia

Too hot for clothes! Was a scorcher today. Glad I made it through the night. Was feeling the effects of post dehydration and exhaustion, ended up taking a Tylenol for a sore back.

The New York University English group invited me along to their Saturday plans. We took a bus to the Rio Napo where we boarded a long canoe with a motor. Down the river we went to come to a place where they grow and make chocolate, legit willy wonka! Cacao grows everywhere here, it's deep red colour when it's ripe is stunning. They showed us the step by step process of how to process the cacao into chocolate. Orgasmic was the raw cacao bean straight out of the pod. Covered in a sweet buttery substance. After showing us the process we gathered around and tried the fresh chocolate. Gourd blown! I'm already planning my cacao greenhouse. Cacao has a deep and rich history for these indigenous peoples, a rich tapestry of tradition and story that is woven into their ancestral roots. Later that day I told a cacao tree, while on my walk through the jungle to the river for a swim, that I was sorry for abusing it for so many years, and that I'd appreciate the process and the history next time I indulge in one of my favourite foods.

After this deliciousness, we hopped back aboard the long canoe and continued down the Napo to a wildlife sanctuary. They bring injured animals as well as animals people had as pets, but left them to their own when it was no longer convenient. Monkeys, toucans, parrots, macaws, wild cats and wild pigs. Really felt what they were doing was fenominal so I donated what I could to their cause.

After we got back to where we were picked up, the group was waiting for a bus. I had heard someone say it was going to be an hour. So I meandered down to a local kitchen and had some stew, similar to what I had the other day. They kept bringing me more food. By the end I had a bowl of stew and a big plate of rice and chicken with lemonade. As I was chowing down, I seen the group drive by in the bus. It had only been maybe 15 min. At first, wait! Then, Hakuna Mattata. In what would have been a slightly stressful situation, I realized I didn't really have anywhere to go other then where I was. Our thoughts really are our worst enemy sometimes. The travellers philosophy. I continued eating the delicious meal the women had prepared for me, thinking about what words I knew that could communicate a hitchhikers vocabulary. When, just then, I seen the bus pull back into view and everyone laughing. They were super apologetic, but I insisted they need not be.

I got off the bus at Jatun Sacha, our home base. As the others continued on to Tena for treats and shopping. Decided to take a walk a few km to the Rio Napo for a swim, what a refreshing treat that was; Again! The river bath is preferable, a lot warmer, then our freezing showers. No doubt, takes my breath away every time.

For dinner they made us pizza! Nuff said!

Ps. Connected with the queer brother, Connor, from New York. We talked about RuPaul's Drag Race of course. Feels nice to have a small space to allow that queer rainbow to shine. I'm sure the local indigenous peoples have a history of two spirit people, but we are playing it safe by trying to not be obvious, ah the life of LGBT. Also had a fantastic conversation with Malaika, a University graduate from New York, and young African American women who has some wicked politics. Systemic racism, decolonization, white privilege, as well as some of her stories about skin colour and hair issues within the black community, were some of the topics we covered. I feel fulfilled when I can have these sorts of real conversations with people.

Big love,

Posted by Islandboi99 10:29 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Day 1 in Amazonia

sunny 30 °C

Day 1 in Amazonia

Ouch! As I write this, I'm wrapping my hands in gauze and bandaids. We walked 2km into the jungle today to plant a bazillion banana and yuca trees. Walking through the forest was amazing! So many cacao trees and just so much to look at in general, for a plant geek. I managed to smell the soil without anyone noticing, yum! Shout out to all the plant and soil geeks out there!

Incredibly hard workers these local people. Was hard to keep up, especially with all the blisters on my hands from digging. I ended up running out of water half way through and got intensely dehydrated. So grateful for my life straw, was able to stop at a small creek on our walk to drink directly from it! The Amazon is a part of me now :)

After a bit of tough love and backbreaking work, the supervisors let us walk back to base and have lunch. It was delicious! Some sort of traditional stew with yuca, plantain, corn and legume. I filled my belly and chatted with the French Canadienne college guys in the hammocks. I guess there is some tension between the English group from New York and the French group. Neither group has anything nice to say about the other. I and another solo traveler shake our heads. The English group invited me into their circle, I plan on staying unbiased and friendly with everyone. I will remember, tho, it was the Ecuadorian university group who spoke to me first when I arrived.

After lunch I was hoping our afternoon tasks would be lighter then that mornings. We ended up hoofing a bunch of yuca cuttings to a spot a few kilometres in. Then, we went swimming in the Rio Napo! Felt sooooo good! I even got to walk barefoot through the forest, squee! Getting used to the climate now too. It's very hot and muggy. Sunshine again today.

Ps. French dudes are super cute! And possibly another Queer bro from the English group, not my type tho.

Big love,

Posted by Islandboi99 10:27 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Quito to Amazonia

Quito to Amazonia

Today I traveled to the Amazon rainforest. I had to take a taxi from the secret garden, and a bus from Quito to tena, about 5 hours. The road was good until we got down off the highlands. Winding our way down at record speeds into the Amazon basin. I felt myself getting more and more excited as the bio region slowly changed from misty cloud forest to tropical jungle. The temperature and smell of the air changed drastically. Quito required shorts and a long sleeve shirt, and definantely a rain coat for the random showers that rolled through. Now, it's too hot and muggy for clothes. It feels amazing to feel that South American sun on my face.

After arriving in tena, I walked s couple blocks to catch another bus. At this point the bus mostly caters to the local indigenous, Quichua peoples, on their way home from school and their daily chores in tena. I was the sweaty awkward gringo. I couldn't help but notice the edge of letting go on the periphery. I felt I could let down body image thoughts (I felt soo white!) and embrace the moment, as my hair blew wildly in the wind in the speeding bus. I had to remind myself that stares aren't necessarily a bad thing.

A bunch of school aged children hopped on the bus and lingered in curiosity. They soon got off the bus at their village. A young Quichua woman literally jumped in the seat next to me, i went along with it. She was learning English in school so we tried our best to speak Spanglish. She was very sweet. As she continued to flirt with me she asked me the usual, where am I from, how old am I, am I single, followed by saying she thought I was beautiful. We exchanged numbers. Perhaps a new friend and pen pal :)

After an hour of winding road through the deep Amazon on the Quichua bus, I finally arrived at Jatun Sacha. I was greeted by two Quichua women, one who had her face painted in a traditional way. They didn't seem to know I was coming. It was no big deal, everything was sorted out as they called the supervisor, and I was getting used to how time and organization works in Ecuador. Is actually quite similar to many artists I know on Vancouver island lol.

Holy crap I'm in the middle of the Amazon. No contact to the outside world. The definition of rustic living in these simple wooden shelters. I feel such a deep reverence and respect for this place. This incredible wild place intimidates me but teaches if you listen. So, without my Facebook, hotmail, Netflix and skype, I listen closely to the, rather loud, forest dwellers. I see this comparison making itself known. I feel within me the areas that have become disconnected and removed from balance, from nature. I feel as though I want to resonate with, and take within myself, the presence of this amazing being we call the Amazon.

The other volunteers seem nice enough. I'm the new guy. A little surprised by how cliquey it is. French with French, English with English then a mixed Spanish group. The hardest to break into, the English. They have yet to acknowledge me with a hello or smile. Decided that I'd protest the cliques by trying to be friends with everyone, fuck comfort zones. So, for dinner, I sat with a few Ecuadorians from Quito who are University graduates on practicum. Local organic, simple meals, just what I need. Some type of beet root, yuca done like mashed potato, and rice. Note to self, the more Spanish you know, the richer the experience with people. Must learn more Spanish.

I'm slowly realizing why I've come here, not only to help with conservation and research, but to heal myself. I wish I could somehow portray the reality of how connected this place is to the realm of story, ancestors and spirit.

Ps. I've never been so paranoid about spiders in my life. A rather large snake quickly slithered behind a bush as I was coming out of the washroom and a tarantula decided the shower was a good place to hang out, scary!

Big love,

Posted by Islandboi99 10:26 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Travel and Arrival

all seasons in one day 25 °C

Woo! Over 17,000km later. I have arrived in Quito, Ecuador.

The night in Vancouver airport was nothing short of proof for me about trusting your gut and living in the moment. Instead of sleeping on the hard airport floor. I met a couple of dudes from the U.S on business with the railways. After a tall glass of wine and chit chat, I was invited to stay the night with them in their hotel rooms. Felt incredible to have a shower before I started my long day of travel.

After a 4 hr flight to Houston Texas from Vancouver, a 4 hour layover and another 5 hour flight to Quito, I arrived in a twilight state. Cruising through the city at 12am was surreal and overwhelming.

Stayed the night at The Secret Garden hostel in the old district. A world unesco heritage site. It's like Mexico and old Europe combined haha for lack of better analogy.

Off to a great start this morning as I misplaced the code to my combination locker that had all my stuff in it. Had to get some muscle to break it into it. As the third highest major city in the world, I'm not feeling the any altitude sickness.

Getting set to take on the big city! Heading to my orientation for the two week conservation program in the Amazon.
Ended up meeting another volunteer, toured the city a bit and found some rubber boots for the wet forest!

Staying in the moment, breathing and having an open heart is what's keeps me sane in this uber foreign environment.

Ps. This will be my last post for awhile. Set to arrive in the deep Amazon tomorrow afternoon.

Until next time

Big love!

Posted by Islandboi99 13:10 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Victoria airport


Hello friends and family,

Big thanks to my brother from another mother, Nick Browning, for dropping me off at Victoria International airport. Even if I am 6 hours early. Lol

First stop, an airport pub for some dinner. Some sort of oriental noodle dish. Was pretty good.

The airport is pretty slow, so I have my choice of comfy seats in which to initial this blog, and Netflix n chill ;)

Leaving Bailey this morning was super hard. Feelin the fur baby daddy feels.

Taking off at 9pm.

Big love,

Posted by Islandboi99 17:54 Archived in Canada Tagged food airport pub realness contemplation netflix Comments (3)

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