Thursday, August 13, 2009

Into the Amazon

The number eleven is associated with intuition, patience, honesty, sensitivity and spirituality. In most numerology systems it is a master number and the Light Bearer. Thus, on the eleventh day of our visit in the Republic of the Equator, we headed southeast toward an adventure in Puyo, the center of Ecuador’s Amazon.

On the scheduled morning departure we patiently waited at the University for our driver, Howard, to finalize details. The scheduled 12:00pm departure turned into 2:30pm. Howard Taikeff is a New Yorker who teaches sculpture at the University and volunteered to be our driver. A very sanguine fellow who considers himself an atheist and has a deep love of Ecuador and all things Judaic.

Greg rode shotgun with Howard while Eve and I sat in the back. The ride took about five hours along a variety of roads and highways. At times the route would dump us into a town with crowded cobble stone, maze-like streets. Once we found our way out of the little towns we were back on the exhaust fumed highway. This trip was a clear reminder that we were in a third world country far from the paved and organized streets of the City of Angels.

Eventually the landscape changed to rich, lush vegetation. Unfortunately since we had left Quito so late much of the beautiful scenery was shrouded in darkness. The road reminded me of Malibu Canyon but with different scenery. To our right the mountainside veered downward to what I later realized was a the Rio Pastaza.

As we drove in the darkness a series of surreal tunnels through the vegetative mountains presented themselves. The interior of the tunnels were very long and raw with chiseled walls that looked like Batman’s cave. Although dry outside the caves would drip with water requiring us to turn on the windshield wipers while inside the cave. At this point I had the distinctive feeling that we were entering the terrain of the Goddess. Elemental water and life force energy was very strong here. The air felt verdant and the temperature grew warmer.

We had been climbing in altitude and as we exited one of the tunnels fog engulfed us with no visibility. Howard wasn't quite sure how to work the lights or the windshield wipers. This became the first sign that we were indeed on a wild adventure.

The next sign was a huge pile of dirt in the middle of the road. What the heck? Mind you it was night time, no lights on the steep canyon road and thick fog. Howard commented that Ecuador was where all Republicans should come and experience pure deregulation.

When finally we arrived in the city of Puyo, Howard was not clear where our hotel was located thus began asking locals for directions. As was typical many different perspectives were provided. In the end we took a round about route pitted with potholes every two feet. Who needs massage when you can get juggled around in a car as if someone were shaking a can.

Finally we arrived at the end of the street with a gated bridge that crossed the River Pastaza, the third sign of adventure. The bridge looked like it was right out of Jurassic Park. Upon crossing the one way, suspension bridge we had arrived to the end of our journey on day eleven The Hotel Pigual.

The guest rooms were cabin-like structures that reminded me quite a bit Club Med in Moorea, Tahiti. The plant lined pathways, alive with the sounds of tropical animals and a the rich scent of vital vegetation led us to our home for the next two nights.

Next post, Ecuador Day 12, the Amazon jungle!!

Photographs ©Roxana Villa

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