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Agua Blanca

Written on: Friday September 28th, 2007

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

 

Location: Puerto Lopez, Manabi, Ecuador

Author: Kevin

After several days at the beach, cabin fever set in with a longing for the sounds and excitement of a big city.  Knowing that I only had a couple of more days until we left for Cuenca, I decided to make the most out of the moment and discover a near by town.  Agua Blanca is both a community and the home of an archaeological site of the Machalilla people, uncovered by a recent storm .  The town is 12km out of Peurto Lopez and about a 15 minute drive by camioneta.  A return trip should cost between 8-10 dollars.  The community consists of several simple homes, and host visitors who wish to stay with a family or camp.  There is a small restaurant next to the museum that offers local dishes including ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime juice) and various seafood dishes. 

Julie decided to stay near the hotel room as a bit of an upset stomach had been with her for the past couple of days. My new friend Kate and I were itching to get out and see something new.   A quick drive down a dirt road we reached the gate and paid our three dollar entrance fee.  Dry forests were as far as the eye could see so there were very few green patches.  We parked outside of the Museum and headed inside.  Looking around we were admiring the different artefacts and in came our guide to fill in all the missing details.  Juan lives here in Agua Blanca and is one of the 31 guides working in the park.  He speaks Spanish, of course we are in Ecuador, but his manner was easy for even me to understand.  I was just happy that this three dollar tour included a guide for the day.  The museum contained tools, jewellery, bowls, weapons, and human remains all dating between 500-1500 before Christ. 

Next we headed outside to see the primary ruin, the sulphur pool, and walk through Machalilla National Park to see what wildlife we could find.  Crossing a wooden bridge we could see the first evidence of the ?wash out? that cause the ruin to be uncovered.  Pieces of pottery litter the streets and forest floor.  There is no telling how old a broken piece of pottery is without a proper carbon date test, but one could guess it is thousands of years old.  ?Shhh!? our guide stops in his tracks, it?s a bird with a yellow breast, light blue head and long blue tail feathers. We get some good shots with the camera and move on.  There is termite nest in the canopy and the tiny red bugs make their way down to an opening in the base of the trunk.  They will eat this tree from the inside out.  Seconds away from the ruin foundation we see uncovered basins, similar to the ones in the museum that were probably used to store grain and water. 

There is no surprise why visitors from all over the world come to Ecuador to bird watch, there are over 1600 species, double of what is found in North America or Europe.  Black feathers and an interesting beak make up another species.  I?m still trying to research the names of these birds including a red breasted one that is easy to spot with the terracotta mud behind him. A pair of owls sits side by side on a branch, as we walk on our path. Moths camouflage themselves with the bark of trees. 

We are now standing in a dried riverbed, but in the rainy season we are told that the river runs high along the banks.  All that is there at the moment is a small trickle of water, enough for families to wash their clothes.  The other side of the shore are banana and papaya trees that are a source of food for the community.  Just outside this forest we arrive at the archaeological site, to find the remnant of rectangular foundations.  Everything discovered here has been moved to the museum, so it?s a tad anti-climatic. We stare at them for a bit and then move toward the sacred sulphur pool which does have a stinky rotten egg smell due to its 70% sulphur content.  This pool has been used for 15 generations as a place of cleansing for the body and the mind.  Next to the pool is a ceremonial sweat hut that can host 20 or so people.  People who are interested in participating in a 24 hour spiritual experience with a shaman to guide you, can inform the museum and they can plan for this experience.  This is not for the weak spirited as you will consume either a hallucinogenic mushroom or cactus, so be prepared!  But the pool itself is therapeutic, mask your body in mud to treat sensitive skin, its like natures own spa.  It?s a wonderful way to relax.

 

From Diane on Mar 1st, 2008

The "road to the pool" shot is just breathtaking! You two are really fantastic photographs. I hope this journey and your pictures makes it into a book. :o)