July 1994 9:00am we leave Quito for my long awaited journey with the bright beautiful sun shining high. Heading southeast on a very fine pavement road. The first small town we pass through was ďPitoĒ I have tried to research information on this small village to no avail. Ten miles outside of Pito our nice paved road turns into gravel and we proceed to the east passing many Land rovers and old Land cruisers that I have a strong interest in. We passed though many other small villages on the way although I wasnít able to catch all their names. The small concrete/ Adobe homes were picturesque against the green patchwork of the fields along the base of the Andes stretched out as far as I can see. People would sit out in front of their small homes watching the kids play and waving at vehicles heading back and forth over the mountains.

Crossing the Andes Mountains. Soon the gravel road before us began to wind around climbing the base of the Andes and it wasnít long before the temperature began to drop. At one point we pulled over and could see the huge city of Quito back in the valley behind us. It soon began to get foggy and started to rain James informed me that we were now in a dangerous situation due to mud slides along this road. Many times we would have to wait in a line of traffic passing where a lane of the road was covered with rocks and mud from a recent slide. Fortunately there was little traffic only the occasional Land rover or cargo truck coming from the Jungle. Most of these roads were built in the early forties by the American oil companies for oil exploration in this region and many of them have not been upgraded since those days. The rain caused the road to turn into a slick slime of mud that really tested Jamesís ability to navigate through this area. The clouds and rain was thick causing a short field of vision before us. Soon our gravel road is reduced to a one-lane dirt, or actually mud road. We had planned to stop for a while in a town called Baeza and fuel up and rest for a while although when we got their the gas station was out of gas. The inside of the gas station was occupied with a family of pigs and I found it very funny, James said that the last time he was there they had gas. We decide to pass through Baeza heading South and move on before the heavy rain trapped us in. We began to finally descend from the Andes and I noticed that the trees were much thicker and greener on this side of the range. The clouds still loomed over us and the rain began to let up giving us only an occasional shower instead of the constant flow. Along the valleys and ridges of the mountains were vast waterfalls reaching hundreds of feet high falling into the huge rivers that flowed through the mountains. James pointed out what looked like a huge mud road on the side of a mountain, but it wasnít a road. From our vantage point many miles away looking across a valley the mud slide looked small but James informed me that all the sticks I was seeing was actually tree trunks destroyed by tons of muddy earth crashing to the depths below.

Entering the rain forest. The rain began again this time rushing like an open faucet. The one lane muddy road was slippery and James said we may have to stop in the next village and wait for the roads to clear up. We past through the village called Casanga and while enjoying the beautiful scenery the car began to sputter a little while climbing, James sighed and stated that he was a little concerned about the electrical system to the fuel injection but we kept going. This is not a place to break down, the roads are very few traveled and when they are most of the people arenít prepared to lend assistance. As we crept along the muddy road James decided it was time to pull over and look into fixing the problem. After about an hour James found what he though was the problem and began clipping wires and taping them and a bunch of other stuff I donít really understand. Meanwhile I took the chance to stretch my legs and walked up and down the road a couple of miles enjoying the fact that I was in the Amazon Jungle, and soaking in all the beauty of the forest. James honked the horn and I climbed in, a smile on his face told me he had fixed the problem and we were on our way. We drove through another village called Pengayacu and slipped our way deeper and deeper into the rain forest. What a beautiful site to behold, deep gorges spanned by delicate suspension bridges, great waterfalls that seem to fall from a canopy of green mountains into the top of a green carpet like forest. Flowers and plants that I have never seen all passed by my passenger window and imbedded itself in my mind forever. We stopped to rest and get fuel at a town called Archidona. The only gas station was a Texaco station that sold Mobil gas, Oh well it worked. As we left Archidona our luck ran out and we managed to get ourselves stuck. We reversed and forward many times trying to break ourselves free from the mud that surrounded us to no avail. We havenít passed or seen another car for many hours and figured it could be many more until someone came along to help. I climbed from my seat into the mud and began to push the sliding car over the slick road after pushing back and forth a few times and James gunning the engine we managed to break free. I was covered to my knees in mud but thrilled to be on the road again. It has been a long day so far, I have seen a lot and we have traveled only one hundred and twenty miles in just over eight hours. James informs me we will stop in Tena for the night and move on in the morning.

Small Jungle town. Heading directly south we begin to drive into a small town with paved roads, Ah Tena at last. Tena is a small Jungle town with a lot of amenities such as a choice in gas stations and a few hotels, it even has a small choice in restaurants. Tena is the hub for people entering and exiting the jungle, they have a fairly reliable bus station with weekly trips to Quito and a lot of supply houses with expedition equipment available. We head through the town to a hotel that James is fond of along the river and found it to be booked up for the night, as James haggled with the owner in spanish I walked around the hotel enjoying the scenery. I noticed in the trees that there were parrots of all colors and as the sun was behind them beginning to set, I wasnít able to get any pictures of them. James suggested we go on to the Jungle town that we had planned our excursion from and said that it would only take a little more than an hour and if we hurried we should be there before dark. This was probably the most exciting and picturesque drive I have ever been on. Imagine driving on a windy dirt road with huge towering trees along the side actually connecting at the top, kind of like a tunnel. The jungle would break into a clearing and there would be a small bamboo hut with a grass roof, people would be out tending their small gardens and children would run towards our car excited to seen new people. We sped through the windy road trying to make it before dark, it looked as if I had gone back in time many hundreds of years. These people still lived in huts and still raised their food and fortunately havenít been corrupted with greed for fancy cars and TV sets. Needless to say I was very impressed and I thank the lord for the opportunity to of had this experience. The narrow cave of the jungle road broke into a large clearing and we arrived at our destination, the town of Puerto Misahualli. Misahualli is a jungle port town along the Rio Napo, which is a tributary to the Amazon River. All trading in this area of the jungle takes place in Misahualli and tribal people from all around canoe the river to this town to trade goods at the weekend market. Misahualli is built around a small town square, which is full of roaming livestock such as chickens, goats and many young children playing games in the dusty streets. The square is surrounded by small shops selling goods such as food, jaguar skins, toucan beaks, and an array of tribal jewelry. There are nice little restaurants and motels available as well. Behind the row of stores are some homes built of wood with grass roofs high on stilts due to constant flooding. The end of town (maybe one hundred yards) is the Rio Napo River with its banks lined with large dugout canoes and old tattered boats. The trees lining the river are full of small wooly monkeys and a variety of birds. The weekend nights are full of action in Misahualli, there is a small disco on the square thatís music consisted of two cassettes, and on Saturday nights the village places a huge white sheet in the trees in the square and play movies against it in the dark jungle nights. The whole town shows up and enjoys the outdoor theater. We rented a small room in a picturesque hotel called Hotel El Paisano. The small hotel was built around a tiny outdoor square with a restaurant and bar in the middle. Hammocks were strung from poles for people who didnít need a room to themselves. There were many plants and trees and I found it a very comfortable place especially for the price, seven thousand sucres, roughly three dollars. Our room was built with four-foot high concrete walls then it was open to the ceiling being supported by concrete pillars. There was hardly any privacy because anywhere that you stood in the room you could see out the large three foot opening between the four foot walls and the ceiling. James informed me that on the hot and humid jungle nights the opening let the night breeze through the rooms, along with all the mosquitoes of course. The roof was made of tin and lying in my bed I could see through many small holes and cracks out at the night sky. Since we paid the expensive room price we had a bathroom with a cold gravity fed shower which was very refreshing after a hard jungle trek. Outside our room was the bathroom for the other rooms and it was also open to the outside without a door, there was a huge fifty-gallon drum that was kept filled with fresh water for cleaning and washing clothes. The hotel lobby was interesting, along the counter there were jars filled with dead coral snakes that were found around the hotel and caught. After showering and resting for a while I wanted to run around the small town and take pictures and check out some of the local traderís shops. I went to one that caught my eye due to a clear glass case displaying skulls of all kinds. He also had a large supply of jaguar and Ocelot skins. James talked to the owner and he said that he had just got word that a local native chief had just killed a very large jaguar. Contrary to popular belief, there are many jaguars in this area and the natives are very glad when they are killed, many children are carried away from these cats every day in South America. We then proceeded to walk down to the mighty river, I noticed that there were some people bathing in it, they didnít seem to mind the eyes of a stranger. People in this area are very simple and innocent nudity is not a big deal to them and sexual crime is never heard of. Most people here have strong morals and donít budge from their values and even though there is prostitution it is kept behind closed doors for the sake of the children. The riverís banks were covered in thick trees towering many feet high, the jungle was so thick along the banks I could definitely imagine the hostel tribes hiding along the banks ambushing explorers and missionaries as they innocently passed by. I went to a small outdoor restaurant on the corner of the square to grab a bite to eat and for James to visit with a friend who worked there. His name was Pepe and he was the man we were hoping to hire as our guide for our jungle excursion. From my chair I could see the river and the Town Square and I loved watching the local people walking around and the children playing in the dusty streets.

Pepe, our jungle guide. Pepe said that as soon as he got of work that night he would come to our hotel and discuss the trip. So after an excellent meal James and I went for a walk around the small village. We went to another small hotel that had a restaurant that is a common place for the locals. This hotel was nicer than ours, it was all concrete and was completely enclosed. It was two stories tall and the restaurant/bar was popular with the locals. Outside along the dirt street there was an old Landrover owned by an old Grey haired English man that gave up the British life to disappear into the Amazon. This was the only locally owned auto that I noticed. We talked for a little while with some people from France who were also planning a trek up the river the following day. After returning to our room James pointed out a large spider climbing up his wall above his bed, we laughed and I took a picture of it with Jamesís hand next to it to compare its size and then it proceeded to be introduced to the bottom of Jamesís shoe. I found myself to be so excited that I was restless and I wanted to go walk around the village again. James agreed and as we entered the town square we saw Pepe dancing at the local disco, there were only five people there so it wasnít hard to pick him out. We called him out and he said that he had tried to find us earlier but we werenít to be found in our rooms. We all went and sat on some benches and discussed our morning departure. After some haggling in Spanish James agreed on a price of thirty thousand sucres (around fifteen dollars) for the use of his twenty two-foot canoe, two porters and a cook, and Pepe to be our guide. As we talked out under the moonlight huge bats were swooping down low around me catching insects. I commented on how large they were and Pepe asked James what I was talking about when I said the word ďbatĒ. James told him in Spanish what I was saying and Pepe laughed while making a swinging motion with his arms, apparently one of the few English words he knows is the word ďbatĒ referring to a baseball bat, and was confused that the word also referred to the flying bat. I guess its true that English is so hard to learn because all the different meanings we have for the same words. It was getting pretty late and I thought I better get some much-needed sleep for the next day. I was awoken around three o-clock a.m. by loud rain pounding on the tin roof above my bed. I was concerned that the next day may be rainy and was very glad to awaken to sunshine. We met Pepe at a small restaurant along the Town Square and I had eggs scrambled mixed with banana and a wonderful drink called ďPinyaĒ made of pineapple and bananas. Pepe was born and raised in Misahualli and spent his lives running a transport business up and down the river. Pepe will spend many days transporting goods into the interior of the jungle trading with the natives and then returning with their goods to sell in town. Some times he will be lucky enough to transport food and goods to military posts throughout the river for the government. He owns four twenty-foot long dug out canoes with large out board motors on the back. These canoes have seen rough lives, their hulls being damaged many times and patched up with whatever is available. The cost of a canoe of this sort is surprisingly inexpensive by western standards considering it can take many months to fall a large tree and hollow it out by hand.

Pepe, our jungle guide Pepe said that as soon as he got of work that night he would come to our hotel and discuss the trip. So after an excellent meal James and I went for a walk around the small village. We went to another small hotel that had a restaurant that is a common place for the locals. This hotel was nicer than ours, it was all concrete and was completely enclosed. It was two stories tall and the restaurant/bar was popular with the locals. Outside along the dirt street there was an old Landrover owned by an old Grey haired English man that gave up the British life to disappear into the Amazon. This was the only locally owned auto that I noticed. We talked for a little while with some people from France who were also planning a trek up the river the following day. After returning to our room James pointed out a large spider climbing up his wall above his bed, we laughed and I took a picture of it with Jamesís hand next to it to compare its size and then it proceeded to be introduced to the bottom of Jamesís shoe. I found myself to be so excited that I was restless and I wanted to go walk around the village again. James agreed and as we entered the town square we saw Pepe dancing at the local disco, there were only five people there so it wasnít hard to pick him out. We called him out and he said that he had tried to find us earlier but we werenít to be found in our rooms. We all went and sat on some benches and discussed our morning departure. After some haggling in Spanish James agreed on a price of thirty thousand sucres (around fifteen dollars) for the use of his twenty two-foot canoe, two porters and a cook, and Pepe to be our guide. As we talked out under the moonlight huge bats were swooping down low around me catching insects. I commented on how large they were and Pepe asked James what I was talking about when I said the word ďbatĒ. James told him in Spanish what I was saying and Pepe laughed while making a swinging motion with his arms, apparently one of the few English words he knows is the word ďbatĒ referring to a baseball bat, and was confused that the word also referred to the flying bat. I guess its true that English is so hard to learn because all the different meanings we have for the same words. It was getting pretty late and I thought I better get some much-needed sleep for the next day. I was awoken around three o-clock a.m. by loud rain pounding on the tin roof above my bed. I was concerned that the next day may be rainy and was very glad to awaken to sunshine. We met Pepe at a small restaurant along the Town Square and I had eggs scrambled mixed with banana and a wonderful drink called ďPinyaĒ made of pineapple and bananas. Pepe was born and raised in Misahualli and spent his lives running a transport business up and down the river. Pepe will spend many days transporting goods into the interior of the jungle trading with the natives and then returning with their goods to sell in town. Some times he will be lucky enough to transport food and goods to military posts throughout the river for the government. He owns four twenty-foot long dug out canoes with large out board motors on the back. These canoes have seen rough lives, their hulls being damaged many times and patched up with whatever is available. The cost of a canoe of this sort is surprisingly inexpensive by western standards considering it can take many months to fall a large tree and hollow it out by hand.

Along the beach as we loaded our canoe we were literally attacked by wooly monkeys attempting to get into our packs. The monkeys frequent this area of the river knowing that this is where the traders boats are docked and they hope to be able to steal some food or sometimes cameras as I found out. Fortunately James and I chased him and as he was climbing a tree he accidentally dropped it to the ground and we were able to retrieve it safely. One little monkey climbed James and attempted to unzip his backpack, it was quite a scene. We loaded all our gear into the front of the canoe and sat towards the middle side by side on wooden chairs, Pepe stood on the bow of the canoe with a large pole and the two helpers sat in the back running the motor. Before we could shove off we had to go to a small government hut to stamp our passports that we were leaving land and proceeding are journey by river. Misahualli was located along a bend of the river and that caused many rapids where the giant Rio Napo had to make a turn. The Rio Napo is one of the larger northern rivers that eventually leads to the great Amazon river which runs over 3,912 miles through some of the densest jungle in the world before entering into the Atlantic ocean. The mouth of the river is two hundred and eight miles across, while flood season its over four hundred miles and discharges seven million cubic feet of water per second. The amazon is the home of many islands one being fifteen thousand four hundred and forty four square miles (roughly the size of Switzerland.) As we made our way along the rapids the water splashed in the canoe as fast as we could dish it out. I noticed huge holes in the hull where water was flowing in and before to long my feet were soaked. Of course there wasnít any reason to worry because even completely swamped it would still float being made of wood. Soon we began to enter smoother water and I was able to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery around me. The river was probably a hundred yards across and was lined with beautiful tall trees with vines hanging into the water along its edges. I could see colorful birds of all kinds throughout the dark green trees and occasionally a small thatched hut would rest along the banks. I felt very blessed to be able to experience this beauty of the jungle with all its foreign sites and sounds, and floating along this peaceful river so far from the hustle and bustle of civilization was giving me a lifetime of beautiful memories. 10:07am Pepe asked us if we would like to stop at a small village along the river and meet the people and pick up some sugar cane to snack on throughout the day. As we pull up to the bank I see a small worn out path through the thick jungle and before long we were walking that path to the village. The sounds of the insects in the trees were so loud that we had to yell to hear each other and before long my ears were hurting from the loud buzzing. We begin to enter a small clearing and the sun blinds my eyes as they adjust to the light in the clearing. As I adjust to the light I notice many small thatched huts about ten feet square made mostly of bamboo tied together with vines. They are built about two feet above the ground in case of flooding and the walls are only about six feet tall being open probably two feet until the roof begins, to allow for ventilation. The roof is a thick thatch made of palm leaves, also being the home to many spiders, bats, birds or whatever chooses to live up there. Many dirty and half-dressed little children along with a few mutt dogs that are extremely happy to have visitors come to greet us, and begin grabbing and hanging to our clothes leading us to the women of the village. The women cooking food over fires and cleaning laundry and hanging it the sun to dry. They tell us that the men are tending the gardens in another clearing and pointed in the direction we should walk. Before I left I wanted to examine their housing a little more and found that along a small front porch still under the roof is where they hang their hammocks to sleep at night. The insides of their houses are fairly empty except for a few meager belongings in a corner. Contrary to what many would believe these people seem to live a very happy life without all the gadgets and expense that we fortunate people get to finance. They are very family oriented and I saw many times the father taking the children down the path to swim in the river. As well as spend time teaching the boys they way men should provide for his family while the women show the girls how to cook and maintain a household or huthold. These people have many years gave up their tribal customs and maintain a livelihood mostly by trading their Gardens of fruit and vegetables for clothing and goods back at Misahaulli. As we made our way to the next clearing James pointed out a bush along the trail that had huge three to six inch thorns hanging from it, and tells me it is very poisonous. We enter the next clearing and find the men of the village tending their gardens. They at once stop to greet us and Pepe begins a long conversation about us and that we are interested in their way of living. One of the man begins to hack his machete at many long sugar cane poles and we all begin to walk back to the village. We go to what seems to be a sort of public hut that is very large compared to the living huts, and the men bring out some of their blow guns and tools that they use to survive. James brought to my attention that we havenít seen any monkey for a while and that was due to the accuracy of these blowguns, monkey meat is much favored by these people. They also had many traps that they had made for trapping small animals. I was very impressed with the ingenuity of these traps and they hunters took all the time necessary to explain and demonstrate how they work. I was glad that James took detailed pictures and notes regarding these traps because someday unfortunately they will be purchasing groceries over the Internet instead of trapping it. It was time for us to be moving on so Pepe gathered all of our acquired food and we began the trail back to our canoe. All the children and their dogs accompanied us along the trail laughing and talking as children do. We soon made it back to the river and loaded our goods in the font of our boat. James slips on his rubber boots so that he can help push the boat from the bank and as he is pushing us away from the sand he steps into a hole dunking rubber boot and all up to his waist. The children along the bank burst out in laughter as James hangs on the side of the boat draining all the water from his boots. So much for a dignified departure. As we proceed deeper into the jungle I notice many small huts (similar to the ones I have explained earlier) along the shores of the river. Many hours later I noticed next to a small hut a thirty thousand-dollar Nissan Pathfinder parked on the sandy beach. I was perplexed at how he managed to get such a nice new looking truck this deep into the jungle without any roads. Pepe said that he had a friend that owned a huge pontoon barge for moving automobiles along the river, Later I saw this ferry style boat and found that the pontoons are made of fifty-gallon steel drums latched together with rope.

As we continued along we began to enter more rapids and the motor strained loudly against the strong currents while Pepe pushed and shoved with his pole along the rocks to keep from gouging the boat. Along the bank we saw some women doing something in the water while their small children we playing near by. Pepe saw that we were interested in what they were doing so he began to navigate the huge canoe against the strong current trying to reach the beach where the women were located. After to much effort we managed to beach about fifty yard below the women. We disembarked and walked to where they were and they acted a bit threatened by us quickly packing up their stuff and hiding it from us. Pepe talked to them in their language explaining that we meant them no harm and were just curious about what they were doing in the river. Well come to find out the reason that they were nervous about us stopping was the fact that they were panning for gold along the river, and due to bandits try to be secrete about it. After they began to feel they could trust us they began to try to show us all the gold that they had found that day. I figured they had at least half an ounce or so. Unfortunately they should be more afraid of the middlemen they sell it to instead of strangers because they will pay them the equivalent of twenty to forty dollars and ounce and then transport it and sell it for up to three hundred dollars and ounce. We decided to rest along the sandbank while the women continued the quest for gold and noticed that another canoe was navigating the rapids way above us. I enjoyed watching the lead man on the canoe use the long pole to steer the boat between the rocks and sandbanks. As they got nearer I noticed that they seemed to have lost control and the rear of the canoe began to swing around. As the canoe floated out of control they grounded on a sandbar in the middle of the river while the water rushed all around them at astonishing speeds. There were three men on the canoe and a lot of cargo the center man laughed and stretched out on his back on top of the tarp covered cargo while the two other men got out and tried to dislodge the canoe off its sandy base. After many unsuccessful attempts to budge the over laden canoe, the two men began to get frustrated at their friend coaching them from within the canoe and were overjoyed when they almost capsized the boat throwing the man off the cargo into the river. With all three men contributing they managed to free the boat and proceed down the river. We all laughed and cheered from the bank at their success in the waved at us happily, even the wet one! Again James helped us push off the bank but decided to skip the rubber boots and we proceeded on.

Not five minutes into our journey we grounded on a sandbar as well and all of us cheerfully jumped into the shallow water to break the huge boat free from its holding. Although wet to the waist we began our journey without further avail. After leaving the rapid area we again entered into a nice calm river and our canoe floated along peacefully through the vines hanging from the towering trees above us. Pepe used the long pole to check the depths of the water to keep us from grounding again and we maintained about twelve feet deep. We passed many other canoes while traveling the river, some were full of cargo while others had many Indians with paddles stroking their way up the river. And still others had small hut like houses built over them and I found that families actually lived in these canoes. Occasionally we would spot fishermen along the river shores with large nets catching fish of all kinds. The whole world has a fear of piranha, and although these rivers are full of them, we swam often. Pepe explained that contrary to popular belief piranha doesnít attack any piece of meat that hits the water, they have to be tempted with blood as sharks do. There is a very dangerous small fish that everyone should be aware of while swimming here. The safety rule is to always wear shorts or underwear while swimming because this very small narrow fish has very unique spines that lay backwards and being attracted to the acid of any human or animalís urine will swim up the urinary tract and cause major pain and blockage. Due to the spines that lay backwards it cannot be pulled out without major damage. Many people have died the painful death caused by this small fish unable to get to a medical doctor or witch doctor. We then came to a huge sandbank along the river where Pepe said we would find the jungle path that we had planned to take. After a good rest and some dinner of fruit salad and warm coke we prepared to embark on our jungle hike. Pepe leaded our hike while the two others decided to camp along the rivers edge and wait for our return. The path that we are to take runs along side of a small stream that here at the waters edge flows into a beautiful waterfall into the great river. We begin by actually climbing along the side of this waterfall and slowly enter below the Jungle canopy. The small path is very slippery and I find it hard to keep a good footing because of the mud, we take full advantage of walking in the small streambed because the jungle is so thick with vegetation. As we climb and climb I notice all the millions of different plants and insects, again the sounds cant be described in writing.

We soon begin to level out and reach a clearing on the top of a hill overlooking the river and jungle below. From this vantage point the river looks like a winding snake looping around through the thick green carpet like jungle. I realize that if you were to walk straight through the jungle you would cross the same river many times due to the way it winds around, its no wonder that the early explorers would so easily get lost in this vast jungle. Looking inland from the river into the depths of the Northern Amazon I can see smoke drifting skyward from what looks like small fires below the jungle canopy, according to my journal I counted four smoke clouds rising. Pepe said that they belonged to Indian tribes probably in this area for hunting purposes. Pepe then proceeded to what looked like a man made hollowed out tree trunk that was black with charcoal attached by a vine rope to this tree was a thick carved stick about three feet long. Pepe took the stick and started hitting the hollowed edge of the tree causing a very load noise to echo throughout the forest, he would hit it two times in a row and then pause and then hit it another few times sounding like a sort of mores code. James talked with Pepe in Spanish and then told me that Pepe was letting all the tribes in the immediate area know that we were here and come in peace and is planning on hiking through their area. I must say that chills ran down my spine when Pepe told us that he is sure that the Indians already knew that we were hiking through their area, in fact he said we were probably being watched at all times. We came across some interesting trees that had a huge creeper like vine that grew around it eventually killing the tree and taking its much-valued space in the jungle. I attempted many pictures although it was very dark under the canopy and I didnít want to carry all the flash equipment. James abruptly stops along the trail and with his knife stabs a tree violently, I figured the dense jungle finally caught up with him, but actually he was demonstrating one of the most unusual tree of all time, the rubber tree. Instantly a white liquid began to flow out of where he had stabbed and after this liquid dries turns into a good quality rubber substance. Before the invention of synthetic rubber these trees cost many slaves lives in the rubber trade making a few men very wealthy selling the substance to make automobile tires. We walked until the trail all but disappeared and had to be very careful to keep from tripping over all the vines and roots strewn about the jungle floor. James pointed high up into a tree and showed me a huge ball the size of a Volkswagen beetle, I couldnít believe my eyes when he said that it was a termite nest. We proceeded to the base of the tree where there was about a five inch thick line of termites running up and down the huge tree trunk. We went to the back of the tree and James whacked it with his knife and come to find out that part of the tree was hollow and full of the destructive creatures. Cal me destructive but I bet it would have been interesting to take a shotgun at that termite nest. As we made our way around throughout the jungle we found the trail that would lead us back to the river but by another route. The ground was very muddy on this trail due to the daily rains and the lack of sunshine and I managed to slip on more than one occasion. We were walking down a fairly steep embankment when my mud packed shoes lost traction and my feet went for the sky as my rear hit the earth, I slipped all the way down to the bottom and made myself very sore. I donít wish to bore the reader with over describing the beauty of the jungle so I will just say that the rest of this hike went without any problems or anything that I havenít already or will describe in the future.

We arrived at our boat late in the day and due to the lack of light wanted to make for an island in the middle of the river that due to the lack of trees was still in the sunshine. I thought it would be fun to swim for it so stripping down away we raced, unfortunately I didnít realize the swiftness of the river and wound up many yards past where I had hoped to land a little shook up but safe. From the island I could enjoy the beauty of both sides of the river with all its rich vegetation and wildlife. I was amazed at the height of the trees along the river edge, they seemed at least one hundred feet tall and the vines from the very top hung all the way into the water. As it grew darker I saw huge bats darting round the trees with wingspans at least four three feet in length. At one visit to the U.S. for Christmas James had brought with him a huge vampire bat mounted in a glass case for one of our uncles and I had hoped to find one while I was here but didnít have any luck. One of our small journeys we went to a small area along the river that was a haven to monkeys. The river was extremely rough we got literally soaked by the time we made it there. My feet were sore because they havenít been dry for two days and you donít dare go around bare footed. As are huge canoe landed I noticed that instead of the usual buzzing insect sounds I heard a constant chirping or barking sound. As we walked inland a ways we came to another small village that seemed to be over ran with wooly monkeys. I saw them all throughout the trees and along peopleís small hut porches. Pepe went and brought some papaya from our canoe and we cut it up to feed them.

I really had a good time feeding these little human like creatures, one became a friend of mine climbing on my shoulder and following me around. I can see how people could really get attached to a pet like a monkey. There were also spider monkeys around but there long slinky bodies and nasty habits kept me from giving them to much attention. One of the young village men asked us if we would like to see an Ocelot that he had caught in a live trap the night before and of course we accepted. He pointed to a huge chicken wire cage and said that it was in there, I walked up to the cage and couldnít see it inside. I told the man that it was empty and he got real nervous thinking it escaped and ran up to the cage and we all attempted to locate it. As the man was about to open up the cage a roar that about scared me to death screeched from inside the cage. I looked up and there was the Ocelot hiding in the rafters of the cage watching us through the wires. I hissed and roared and attacked at the cage. I didnít want to put the poor creature through and unneeded stress so I left it alone thinking how glad I was that I didnít run into it in the Jungle.

Due to a tight schedule we decided to head back up river to Misahalli for the night and then continue our drive south throughout Ecuador. Are trip up stream was difficult due to fighting the current. By the time we arrived in town I was very tired and soaked. James thought we should go ahead and drive into Tena for the night to get a head start on the next day. As we were packing the vehicle to leave town a man confronted James for a ride to Tena because the next bus wasnít scheduled for another two days and he was headed for a week long journey into Quito for some shopping for his family. Due to an over amount of baggage that James and I had brought we didnít have any extra room so we offered him the center of the front seat, which he gladly accepted. As our guest and James visited in spanish about life in Misahaulli I dozed off to sleep for a while only awakened by the bumpy road we were on. Later I came back to this village and spent more time exploring but I will never forget my first jungle experience.

 
 
 

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