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Into the Amazon

Written on: Saturday January 31st, 2009

So off we went, again south on the Pan Americana. Pablo was meant to joining us on his KTM but he was called in at the last minute for duty, a Military coup might be in the works, he had to be in town to report it. The sunny day was only disrupted this time by some light showers, nothing to write home about?(?).. One of the things I had done in Quito was to get a new battery as my bike wasn't starting. All was well but now when we stopped for lunch it wouldn't start. A clicking sound near the battery sounded like a short. I used all my mechanical knowledge and a trick I had learnt earlier in the trip and kicked the faring in front of the battery repeatedly. It was fixed, well not quite but it started and off I went. ????.We arrived in Banos early enough and I decided to totally clean the solenoid and battery terminals. The whole time I had a spectator, the old Granddad from the hostel. He did nothing but grunt and nod as I tried to say things in Spanish. Once I had cleaned both thoroughly and it still didn't start I moved onto phase two, wire giggling. Granddad joined in at this stage I'm sure the illusion that I was a mechanic working through things logically had worn off, we both nodded in confusion and eventually I jumped on the back of Peadars bike to check out the town. First we went to the Serpentario and checked out the snakes, it turned out to be a mini zoo really, the zoo that kept on giving, all for a dollar! Then we went across a canyon in a cage and I came back across it tied to a rope, superman style! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZT3q6T4nTxs ) Great craic for 5 dollars.. We went for a walk and then to the thermal Pools to relax. Then out on the town for some beers and whiskey.??..The next day I took the starter motor out I cleaned it thoroughly with granddad watching my every move. I was delighted when it started on the button, and I think he was happy too. It was filthy, it had gotten really rusty inside when I crossed the Salar Uyuni (O-ring missing for some unknown reason) and even when it was cleaned I'd say there was still some bits of rust in there seen as it is mostly just one big magnet. At breakfast I met a guy from Oz called Patrick and he came with me and Peadar for a drive up cobblestone and dirt roads into the mountains high above Banos in a bid to see the nearby Volcano. Evil clouds blocked the view so back to town for some consolation beers. Later Peadar and I watched "Godfather I", on his laptop, which he recently inherited from 'ol' Grandpa Saul' and then each of the following nights we watched II & III. Great stuff?well the first two anyway?? Monday we left Banos for Baeza, we went through great mountain valleys with waterfalls on each side and a raging river below. The roads were mostly good albeit littered with speedbumps. More than any other country we've been through. Happily just north of Puyo was a really great stretch of brand new paved road without Speed bumps and it was super smooth and a real pleasure to ride??fast! You know; safe fast, not stupid fast. In Baeza we found a hostel with a pool (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mm7dIk0EBXE ) and ping pong table.  

 Tuesday we headed on to Lago Agrio, further from the mountains and deeper into the Amazonia region. The weather was great to start but soon I came round and corner and saw a huge cloud hanging in the middle of the valley. I donned the raingear and rode straight into the cloud a short while later the tropical sun was baking me. We had our roadside sambos for lunch and decided to go an hour further than Lago Agrio to look for our jungle tour in Coca.  (this was our route : http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=2529141) We had to take a small boat across a river and then on the rest of the way by road. In town we grabbed the first hostel we could see; dark clouds were beginning to shed their load again. There weren't really any tour operators as such but we saw some gringos in a bar and asked them about tours. They were really well-to-do New Zealanders and they couldn't say enough about their tour guide etc, price 70dollars a day. Too much. We had already put in a call from the reception of a hotel next door and soon we were met by John, our guide who didn't speak any English but described pretty much what the kiwi's had and at half the price. So for 35bucks a day we were going to know kinda what was going to happen and get to go into the jungle. 4 days later we were back? ?.It wasn't what I had originally wanted to do but it seemed to be what was on offer in this town. I had wanted to trek deep into the jungle and get lost from civilisation. But these types of tours take about 10 days and are about 70bucks a day. What we got was great though. We woke up in our hotel before seven on day one. I had a dream Peadar´s bike had been stolen. I was relieved it hadn't come true but when I got down to the bike my petrol canister was gone, missing, or you could say stolen, no biggie but funny considering. We moved our stuff to john's house. One truck, two buses, and a canoe later we were at home in our Cabana's in Limoncocha reserve.  Our first activity that afternoon was Piranha fishing. I have always had a fear of these guys having seen them in some documentary with them viciously stripping lots meat off a bone in less than 10 seconds. We rowed down the lagoon and spotted lots of birds and a few monkeys along the way. John caught a few Piranhas and it was a long, long while before I caught one. Success! And that night we ate them. My first time actually catching and eating my own fish. Dad, still don't like fishing tho ; ) ?by the way Piranha are dang dang tasty. That night we drank whiskey and played 10,000, a good dice game. The next day we got up and trekked into the jungle, spotted lots of cool bugs, a snake (they always slither off), monkeys, birds and other stuff I can't remember. We swung from a vine Tarzan style and tried to stink some giant rodents out of their hole with some plant they dislike. U know, standard jungle stuff. Great fun. That afternoon we had siesta and john woke us for a swim, off we went to the Piranha infested waters. John said it's all good. gotta listen to your guide so in we went. That night we went to see the Caiman, we were going to try and grab one outta the water but they were all too big so we just let them be.  There was a fluorescent glow all around the lagoon an algae of some kind, I'm sure would have gotten all the details on the 70 dollars tour but unfortunately our Spanish isn't that good, but who cares I still know how magical it looked. Later on was much as the previous night - Whiskey and 10,000. Thank God we brought both. We told john we wanted to trek as far as we could in the reserve and the next day we did, so much so that we ended up on the road at the other side and then instead of trekking to a point where he told us we would enter from the other side, we took a lift in the back of a truck to town so we could get a bus to that point. So then we were back in town. A cold coca-cola and few biscuits later (the best luxuries in the town shop) we were getting a town tour and ended up in his cousin's house, where we had some yucca milk. Kinda like someone mashed up a stringy potato into paste and then added water. After a while of looking round town we got a lift first in a truck and then we walked a bit in the rain which was grand if not enjoyable, no really it was, you dry out real quick here. Soon we reentered the park. We heard, chased and captured a raccoon like furry guy, shot some photos while he squealed and then we released him to scamper back to his mammy? More rice and some fish for dinner, cooked traditionally in leaves from the forest, tasted good but had bones like splinters of glass in it .. Dry wretching at the table, is it not the ultimate complement.. no? ; ) Day four was for visiting the feria? one of those things we were in complete ignorance about until we got there, OH!! A FAIR!!?.. We realized as we came near. Selling everything from beer to tool to cans of foam for the kids to spray at each other. They were also selling grubs.. barbequed worms. No way Jose!?. I wanted a Mr Freeze, for which I was told it cost a dollar-50... That didn't sound right.(Ten cents for the locals) I walked off, found out the real price went back asked for 3, gave him 50 cents and had to battle to get my 20 cents back, the cost of white skin. After the archeological museum we were off back to town and now were staying in John's house and he's taking us out on the town. Well actually Peadar is out on the town, and like a sap in here in the net café Blogging? but now Im off for a beer or 2 or 3 or 4 or?. ... 

Tomor we are heading back to Quito and soon we are off to Columbia.

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and there was the time I nearly died

 

 

From Mam and Dad on Feb 1st, 2009

Great to see you back on the road with some more great pictures

From Linden on Feb 1st, 2009

Superb pictures as usual, (thanks for the card), really looking forward to reading about the rest of your journey, ride safe

From Pete on Feb 2nd, 2009

Cool pictures Ste!! Enjoy being back on the road.

From flood on Feb 4th, 2009

brilliant pics man, will print off the text and read that in a while. hope all is well. stay safe