The Villa Maria lot are gearing up to start their project tomorrow, here’s what they got up to last week and the weekend before last. Thanks to Alex for blog number 2 and good luck for the start of the project!
As we left off we were about to embark on our travels to the cloud forest. We caught a couple of buses and an extremely bumpy car ride, which resulted in a lot of bruised bums. We were given a tour around the small village, which consisted of them showing us how they made their traditional homemade jams (made from blackberry and two traditional jungle fruits) and cheese. Afterwards we were split into pairs to stay with the families, who spoke next to no English so we got a chance to practice our Spanish. The families were very welcoming and force-fed us a huge amount of food, which was handy as rocket fuel for the 8 hour trek the next day.
We began at 7am the next morning on the back of a truck, which became a game of “dodge the tree branch”. Unfortunately, when we finally arrived we a lost a member to a minor illness but persevered into the jungle. We quickly realized how slippery mud is (especially Flo who has some amazing war wounds). After 4 hours we stopped off in a shack and had some sandwiches with local cheese and jam, which was kindly provided by our two local guides.
Then the rain hit. Things got very messy involving falling in cow poo, mud, Jimmy being taken out by Alice’s mighty hand, photos of muddy bums and literally getting stuck in the mud. When things eased off we all pegged it to the finish, which was the amazing Santa Lucia, the eco lodge at the top of the cloud forest.
We met Pete and Olivia (the lost member) at the lodge and had much needed showers and relaxation in the hammocks. In the evening we had a lovely meal and Olivia was serenaded and a birthday cake as her birthday was the next day.
We got a much appreciated lie in and another lovely breakfast before starting our hour long trek down to the truck (which compared to the day before was a piece of cake). There was however a frantic dash for the bus but luckily we caught it just in time.
When we finally got home there was yet another birthday cake for Olivia and movies as no one was feeling particularly energetic.
Monday started as usual with 4 hours of Spanish lessons and then in the afternoon the entertainment team went on a covert mission to buy football t-shirts equipped with nicknames, numbers and a puma on the front for the game on the following Monday.
Monday night we made the mistake of going out and quickly realized that Monday nights are dead for a night out. Really, really poor. But as always we managed to enjoy ourselves and Ed won a dance off against a massively huge man (gigantic!).
Tuesday everyone was a little bit ‘chuchakied’ when they awoke and the 4 hours of Spanish were hard work! In the afternoon when everyone was feeling a bit more awake and aware we visited the equator. We decided that we would make things a bit more fun by dressing Ed up in a snowman outfit (which as you can guess was boiling) and the girls wore bikini tops and shorts. Some of the other tourists also enjoyed our adventure by taking their own pictures on iphones. Pictures are available. After we had had our fun on the equator line we went to the equator museum, which was very interesting. Pete and Ed managed to balance an egg on a nail on the equator line whilst everyone else failed miserably. We saw a real shrunken head, an anaconda and a Canduri (the fish that swims up your pee!).
In the evening we went out for chicken, which consisted of half a chicken, rice, chips and salad. Then we snuggled up to a film called The Boat That Rocked as everyone drifted off to sleep (especially Pete in his old age who hasn’t managed to stay awake for a whole film yet).
Wednesday half the group went to visit a British woman in prison who was caught at Quito airport with 4.5 kilos of cocaine. She received 8 years for the crime but is only serving 4 because if the inmates complete a certain number of courses they get their sentences shortened. It was lovely meeting her but definitely an eye opening experience for everyone showing that the law against drugs is always upheld.
In the evening some of the group went for salsa and the rest joined up afterwards for Thai food at Uncle Ho’s. Which lead to another ladies night which started off slowly but ended up in many more adventures.