Leaving La Selva

Tomorrow we’re departing for Banos de Agua Santa and leaving behind our home in the rainforest for the past week. Here are a few excerpts from the group journal to tell the story (pics below):

“We headed to the reforestation area and Miguel taught us about a number of different plants along with their uses. There was even one that the Kichwa use to cure stomach cancer!”

“We observed Kichwa traditions and dances, planted guayusa, and after dark we ventured into the jungle for a night hike where we encountered a number of creatures and harsh terrain, but in the end it was an experience we will never forget.”

“On today’s hike we climbed into a waterfall, entered a cave in which everyone freaked out about spiders and bats, and then after lunch made Kichwa bracelets.”

“Today we visited Puerto Misahualli, the monkey city. We took a dugout canoe to the chocolate jungle lodge. There we learned about the history of the cacao bean and how it is used to make chocolate. Back in Misahualli we interacted with the resident monkeys that stole crackers or papers any chance they got. Later, we visited a wildlife preserve and saw many animals that are being rehabilitated for release into the jungle. The beautiful warm day left open nighttime skies filled with countless stars.”

Today we went rafting on the Rio Jatun Yacu, which means “big water” in Kichwa. Good times we’re had by all, even those who found themselves temporarily disconnected from the raft and enjoying an unintentional swim.

This evening we held a discussion of our sustainability action plans, still works in progress, which range from composting and recycling initiatives at home to solar panel installations at school and even an ambitious plan to lobby for a plastic bag tax in New York City.

It has been a great trip so far. The group is really cohesive, curious, and upbeat. We’ll set aside a bit of time tomorrow night for some brief calls home to family and friends.

Ciao until then.

20140717-214622-78382082.jpgIsabel planting Guayusa

20140717-214623-78383462.jpgAnneliese practicing her blow gun skills

20140717-214620-78380688.jpgConnor and Aaron, jungle explorers

20140717-214622-78382530.jpgCydnee immersed in Kichwa

20140717-214626-78386089.jpgDugout canoe ride

20140717-214623-78383018.jpgIsabel, Cydnee, and Andrea

20140717-214623-78383849.jpgAndrea dismayed at her near miss of the blow gun target

20140717-214621-78381173.jpgIsabel taking a page out of Tarzan’s play book

20140717-214626-78386963.jpgMurray with the proverbial monkey on his back

20140717-214626-78386530.jpgSaid monkey engaged with a cacao pod

20140717-214625-78385594.jpgCydnee making chocolate

20140717-214627-78387813.jpgJustin enjoying the dugout canoe ride

20140717-214628-78388246.jpgJungle transport

20140717-214621-78381556.jpgReforesting the rainforest with guayusa

20140717-214624-78384237.jpgGifts for the local Kichwa kids

20140717-214624-78384629.jpgMurray getting in touch with the wildlife

20140717-214627-78387395.jpgClassic Amazon rainforest scenery

20140717-214625-78385080.jpgMaking chocolate