Greetings from Tena, the Ecuadorian Amazon’s most agreeable city. Actually, we’re about 4kms outside of Tena at a lovely lodge on the banks of a crystal clear stream. Tomorrow we’ll go rafting on the Rio Jatunyacu, enjoying one of Tena’s most popular activities for which whitewater enthusiasts from all over the world come. But first, let me recap our last week in the jungle.
After our first full day hiking through the primary tropical forest (see the previous blog post), we spent our next day visiting the local school on its graduation day. The Yachana Foundation started the school in the neighboring Mondaña community in the early 90s and has since graduated dozens of students who have gone on to pursue additional education and professional once unheard of in this remote region. Our guide Abelito, is one such graduate. While at the ceremony, we had a chance to speak with some of the recent grads and their plans for the future.
On Friday morning, we visited a Fair Trade cacao farm that specializes in high end cacao beans for the European market. Here’s one of the farmers, Jofrey, explaining the difference between ‘clone’ cacao and ‘national’ cacao. The former produces in only two years, but is of lower quality and the tree only lives for twenty years. The national cacao takes five years to begin producing, but is of superior quality and lives for forty or fifty years: