Alright... I’ll break this up into a couple entries.
I absolutely ADORED our time spent at Cotococha Lodge. It’s a “green” lodge in the jungle – they have lamps instead of electricity; all the guides are Ecuadorians; everything is super natural and awesome. Here’s a quick recap of some of the sweet things we did so you don’t have to read too many paragraphs:
Held a boa constrictor named Joaquin, saw toucans, monkeys, peccaries, turtles, a jaguar, a black caiman & giant rodents in the jungle, hiked a ton, sweated a lot, swung on a vine through the trees, visited Tiyu Yaku (an indigenous Kichwa community) & saw how to make chicha aka beer homemade from yucca, used a blowgun, swam in a waterfall, saw a shaman cleansing ceremony, saw a traditional indigenous dance, ate cooked beetle larvae & live lemon ants off the tree (YES I ATE BUGS,) went tubing in the Río Napo, visited a butterfly garden, found a HUGE bug in my bed, and ate a lot of delicious new food. It was so incredible getting to see how the indigenous people in the Andes live in harmony with nature and know so much about it. Our guide showed us how they make insect repellant by squishing termites, how they paint their faces with plants, and how they make thatched roofs for houses. I saw so many beautiful trees and flowers and I loved the hot & humid climate (Sorry to all my friends in MN/Chicago who are trudging through the snow right now.) The jungle was so beautiful, I could go on and on. It was a refreshing adventure. I felt so alive and exhilarated!
After leaving Cotococha, we spent a ton of time driving through the mountains in the bus. Beautiful views, but a little nauseating. We stopped in a town called Baños for a couple hours and ate cuy (not spelled “qui,” my mistake in the post before this). The pictures describe it better than I can. They look scary but tasted pretty good! Then we spent the night at a hacienda that was converted into a hotel. Very beautiful. It was sort of like a real life history lesson about colonization. I was able to get a mental image of what a hacienda could have looked like back in the day. Then we got on a bus for many more hours and drove to CUENCA!