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February 10, 2010 - Katherine Joyce
The beginning of our (me and 20 or so other exchange students) journey to the Amazon began with a 10 hour bus ride from Machala to Quito (the capital of Ecuador). From Quito we took a plane to Coca, then a wooden bus to Aguasanta and finally a boat down the Napo River to Yachana Lodge, where we stayed for 4 days. Yachana means learning in Quechewa which is the language spoken in the Amazon by the native tribes. Our tour guide was fluent in both Spanish and Quechewa and knew a fair amount of English. Our first day consisted of watching tons of butterflies, learning about their system of recycling in the rainforest and the native culture such as divorce doesn´t exist and that deep in the forest there is a tribe called Huaoroni who are a dangerous isolated tribe that just two months ago was fighting with the government. The second day of our excursion in the jungle took us to a medicine man who performed a cleansing ritual upon us after which we got to try out a blow gun and spear. Then I got to hold a macaw who quite ungreatfully tore a hole in my shirt. Mauricio our tour guide showed us a dragon blood tree, named so because the sap is red like blood. He explained to us that this sap is used in many medicines for ailments such as headaches, but only in small quantities. It doesn´t taste too bad though it´s a little bitter. Morning dawned on the third day and all rose early to scurry off to the Yachana Highschool where we went fishing with a circular net, made jewelery from seeds that are naturally colorful and finished digging a pool for fish. We occupied our afternoon by taking an hour treck through virgin rain forest and being the RAIN forest it was down pouring the whole entire time. We got our faces painted with mud though they were already dirty from falling down half a dozen times.
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