Last night’s cultural event was very nice. Several Achuar sang anents and then a traditional warrior greeting was preformed. Chicha was passed around. It was held in the bar, as there was a huge thunderstorm. It lasted until 10p.m. in the I almost made it without a close encounter! So far the only snakes I have seen are in photographs taken by someone else. I have photographed some very large insects and spiders, but last night, when getting ready to hop into bed, I stepped barefoot on a medium sized tarantula. I think I did more damage to it physically, but it surely captured my attention. I felt the hard exoskeleton crunch, but I did not get a bite. I was charging my camera, so had to get the battery back in to get a photo, it was still trying to crawl. So I have it documented! Then I swept it out the door. As an afterthought, I might have caught it for further examination like I did with the bats, but it was lost amongst the wet leaves…and it was dark. So I do not know if it made an escape or not. I did have passing thoughts about it coming back into the room. This morning, I am getting ready for a hike. Unfortunately, my boots were needed for someone in the big group, so all that was left was a size bigger, cut off and split down the back. Thank goodness for duct tape. The best way to hike in the rainforest is in rubber boots. I have on three pairs of socks; hope I can hike in them.
I opened the Valentine’s card Bill hid in my suitcase. I have been waiting for the day to open it! He is so thoughtful. And it even plays a tune! Well, it turns out the group was too large so I waited for the new group. The day got progressively hot. All of the rain from last night is now moisture in the air. I took a shower mid afternoon, and it was cold! Renon came in with the new group. He is wonderful. He brought a jar of peanut better and a loaf of bread. I opened it and shared with some of the kitchen staff. It was better than cookies. I put the remainder in the refrigerator in the kitchen for Jessica. Of course she is in Banos for the week, having all kinds of good food! We cannot leave any kind of food in the room, as it would attract critters. By then we had a huge thunderstorm and I did not want to do the alternate activity, a canoe ride. Somehow the lightning just did not appeal to me. We heard an extremely loud crack, which I thought was thunder. A big tree uprooted and fell onto the boardwalk, breaking it in two places. The staff was on the scene immediately with machetes and chain saws. They are already repairing the boardwalk! They are amazing. Today’s food was sautéed meat with plantain hash for breakfast, chicken bone soup and rice with some sort of rib for lunch and tasty fried fish and white rice with a few pieces of beets for dinner. Of course I had my peanut butter and bread around 4 and I had something from the chief around 10. It was egg and potatoes quiche and some cantaloupe! What a treat! For some reason white rice, when I eat it, does not stick to the ribs. I am hungry a few hours later. After 6 weeks here I have found out how to get a snack! The food here is what the Achuar prefer. They have a lot of meat and starch in their diet. I am just not used to it! For the guests, there is a chef and really delicious meals. I tried the black light tonight, did not find and scorpions, but did see some great lichen on the trees.
Breakfast this morning was white rice, sautéed chicken and fried plantain. I just couldn’t do it. I had peanut butter on bread. Thanks to the care package from Remon. There is no brewed coffee for us. I will enjoy the coffee at the hotel in Quito. I plan on having a big salad, too. Andres, Pedro and I left for Kusutkau to attend Vanessa’s going away party. She has been living there for the past 6 weeks. She is a volunteer from England, teaching English in the community. She is 18 years old. Unbelievable what she is doing! The celebration included certificates for the students, young and old. Also the students sang and recited in English. What an accomplishment, with 6 weeks of instruction. There was chicha and volleyball. Vanessa gave us a tour of her house. She was living with a family, but they thought she would be happier living by herself. She was set up in a vacant house. It has a hearth, a bed platform a small table, and a chair. She learned how to make chicha and pottery. They said she was an Achuar woman! Nice compliment. We were served fish soup and boiled plantains. I amused the children by making origami birds. I had a small notebook with me and started tearing out pages. I made 42 little birds. Two young girls and one father wanted me to teach them. They learned very quickly. This is my fourth visit to Kusutkau, I know many by name and feel welcome. It took 30 minutes this morning to get there; we left at 8:30. We left at 4 and on the way back, the motor on the boat failed, so we had to wait for a tow!
Last night there was a staff meeting and I was thanked for being here and working on this project. It was a very emotional moment for me. I will miss the people here! Pedro and Vanessa leave this morning. Then I will move back into a cabana and relax my last two days here. I went to the clay lick at 6:30 this morning. We took a boat and saw the pink river dolphins, as well as Amazons and Macaws. They get grit for digestion from the clay. Nice way to start the day. After I get settled again, I will write up my notes from Vanessa and see what activity is planned for this afternoon. I have to package my breakable gifts, as well. I will have to hand carry them, so need to plan my packing. Friday am I will be flying to Shell in a small plane. I will leave lots of stuff behind to make weight!