08.25.2014 - 08.30.2014
8/26/14 at 1456 (Quito time)
Title: Pig attack!
My afternoon so far has consisted of a siesta and getting bit by the pig Juaganita as I pushed her away from the kittens she was trying to eat. Skin intact. My Swiss counterpart noted that Juaganita had been biting this morning when they were preparing food for the animals so maybe she was trying to eat the kittens simply because they were the best bet. She fed the pig some rice, yielding no change.
We are now waiting for the rain to subside so we can go pick grasshoppers for the monos, or monkeys. Juaganita is eating nearby, munching on overcooked white rice from yesterday, and one of the many cats is now cuddled on my right knee as I sit cross-legged in a hammock, listening to the melody of rain, insects, and wind through the foliage.
We ended up catching grasshoppers the next day. Here is a picture of the catch between myself, Luca, and Maria. I loved it, even though I took a pretty hard fall on a slippery bit of pathway straight onto my back in the process.
8/26/14 at 2045 (Quito time)
Title: Jungle Carpentry
Grasshopper catching was cancelled due to the rain. We decided to make a shelf instead. Using scraps of wood and bits of nails, I felt so handy as I sawed wood and hammered away. It came out pretty fantastic. =)
Our finished product!
Fresh, simple carrot cake adorned with sugar made by Franziska. Delicious!
I was scheduled to help feed the kinkajoes, but it was cancelled because Julio got caught up cutting sugar cane and forgot. By the time he returned, it was dark and Julio went into the jungle on his own. I had prepared the bucket of hardboiled egg, papaya, banana, berries, and watermelon. I said I was willing to still go but was told it was too dangerous. I am extremely disappointed. I'm looking forward to tomorrow when I'll be able to have some more contact with the animals.
The lights for the generator are off, so we are preparing to play a game by candlelight.
8/27/14 at 1414 (Quito time)
Title: When sugarcane fights back
So, today while I was cutting sugarcane with a machete in the jungle . . .
I decided to cut without gloves, as my gloves were still wet from a previous washing. The cut wasn't so deep, however I had some good bleeding going on because I had been taking aspirin for my long flights and bus rides. I dripped only a minimal amount of blood on the fresh sugarcane before catching that I was making a mess.
Thanks again, betadine. I'm starting to get a reputation here.
Incidentally, it was my first time eating fresh sugarcane. Maybe I had it coming.
Today, my job was to feed the monos. The aggressive ones were sectioned off and we let the playful ones crawl on us. I was lucky enough to be nominated for the cage with the baby, thanks to my Swiss counterpart Luca.
This mono, or monkey, is named Grumpy for obvious reasons. His constant scowl reminded me of a certain Grumpy back home.
The orphaned baby monkey clung to me while I cleaned the cage and fed the adult monkeys. She knew her feeding time was coming.
Somewhere during this experience I realized my lap was warm and wet, courtesy of Ms. Lisa, the monkey. She had been stretched out, relaxed on my lap getting a belly rub when she decided to relieve herself.
Afterwards, we went fishing where I tortured my own worms to make bait, then caught a good sized fish before catching a tiny fish. Rumor has it that Flavio and his family cooked up my large fish for lunch, which makes me feel proud.
My turn to cook lunch, so we did mashed potatoes with avocado and garlic, stewed cabbage with onion and chicken bouillon, and fried plantains. Delicioso!
Now, relaxing before our afternoon work. Relaxing in a hammock while we listen to the "Maria" playlist handchosen by my awesome Ecuadorian roomie.
Maria: "Oh . . you like Marilyn Manson a lot?"
Me: "Haha, yeah."
. . . .
Maria: "And Nine Inch Nails? I know them. I learned of them a while back."
Me: "Yep. They're touring right now, have some friends seeing them."
. . . .
Maria: "And System of a Down!"
Maria: "OK. I'm starting to get you."
Louis plays on in the background . . . though we're apart, you're a part of me still, you were my thrill on blueberry hill . . .
8/28/14 at 0837 (Quito time)
Lessons learned in the night:
- don't freak out over the 3 inch cockroach because chances are that you'll find a 6 inch flying insect on the wall 5 feet over
Our little leaf-bug friend that attached to Maria's mosquito netting
Some interesting critters we found while hunting grasshoppers for the monkeys
8/28/14 at 2301 (Quito time)
Working on more hooks and door handles with the handy Luca and Julie
A good dinner, game of cards, and bonding over talks of relationships and dating with Monsier Perine playing in the background as I rest in a hammock with kittens on my lap, watching the flames of the fire.
8/30/14 at 0724 (Quito time)
Preparing for a little bit of loco.
Last night was the night of a Ring of Fire card game, Ecuadorian rum with Coca-Cola and lemon. In the day, I played with an ocelot but managed to walk away with my shirt intact. I also had a little moment of panic when I could not find my way in the jungle while out feeding animals; I was with David, who had been ahead of me on the path and suddenly he was gone. I was calling out but did not see him. Turned out he was hiding behind a tree so as to see the gringo get scared in the woods. It worked. =P
My last night in Sacha Yacu
Last night was our last night of cooking together. I got emotional watching the sunset, listening to the music play from my iPad in the kitchen and hearing the laughs of my new friends. It dawned on me how special the experience has been in Sacha Yacu and how I wanted to stay longer. However, the time has come and after feeding the animals for the last time, to Banos I go with Merit and Maria for a partial day of fun before heading back to Quito.
8/31/14 at 0138 (Quito time)
Receiving the last assignment report in the AM
This morning I had my last morning of feeding the animals around Sacha Yacu. I went out with my roommate Maria and my Ecuadorian crush Mr. David. Merit made a quick lunch of pasta and ketchup with onions, then we headed out for the bus to Puyo. There was a nice bit of time with David, Luca, Julie, Flavio, Franziska, Merit, and Maria waiting at the busstop, looking for a tarantula, listening to frogs, and chatting as Julie and Luca crawled the beams above them, intensely discussing the importance of foot placement when it comes to direction change while climbing. (Have I mentioned how much I love this Swiss couple?)
Flavio and Franziska
Julie and Luca
Waiting for the bus
The bus came quickly and hardly slowed down. It was a quick goodbye to Franziska and Flavio, then the bus took off. After a short few minutes in Puyo together, Luca and Julie said farewell, then David. Maria and Merit led the way to another bus terminal, where we boarded a bus for Banos. We checked into the best hostel ever, thanks to Merit's suggestion.
Banos is a lively tourist town, filled with backpackers. The artisan market was fun to walk around, full of handmade goods, beggars, human statue performers, and the like. It started to rain lightly and we saw a full rainbow. We also saw my favorite, a sign pointing to various cities around the world. Althoough I saw some cuyo, or guinea pig, being grilled on a stick, we didn't go for it, as a warm appetizing lunch awaited me, although I promised that if I had room inmy belly afterwards, I would try a quarter of guinea pig. Luckily, I was full after lunch and a thickened juice with milk, the fruit of which I don't remember. We shopped our hearts away, then headed out for a night of dancing at the local discotecas. We had a great time, getting in free because Merit and I were foreigners, and as Maria explained it, we attracted local men so did not have to pay the cover charge. Prior to this, I was also able to procur some eye shadow and a watch, considering that was the one thing that I had forgotten at home. We ate some fresh pizza and papas afterwards while catching bits of a Harry Potter marathon that was playing on TNT. We also grabbed an ice cream, then headed in for the night. Tomorrow, breakfast at the chocolate shop, then on to Quito. Then Portugal the day after that . . . it's going by so quickly.
Merit, myself, and Maria enjoying the pretty view in Banos
Chocolate caliente con queso, an Ecuadorian specialty. I had some with my pancake and marmalade for breakfast in Banos.
Our selection of Ecuadorian chocolate from a local shop in Banos