Brittany: Serena day tripNovember 7, 2010
Julia, Anna, and I attempted a day trip last Sunday. This German guy (maybe in his 40s) works in the municipal government office below me, and he gave us a list of fun day trips. We decided to try the one to Serena. He said it was short and had a really pretty place to swim.
We found the bus after asking a bunch of different people at the terminal. It wasn’t in the station with all the other busses but rather down the block—typical Ecuador logic. It was hot and smelly on the bus. One family got on with two puppies and a plastic sack full of chicks, which didn’t help much with the odor…
Our friend had said it was only 40 minutes, so after an hour on the bus I started to get a little worried. We were driving deeper into the jungle along little dirt roads. We passed some tiny communities, but we were pretty isolated. We finally got to what the driver said was the Serena stop. We asked for directions to the river at this little restaurant. The man there said we were close but needed to walk down the dirt/gravel road twenty minutes or wait for a bus (the one we had been on turned in the other direction). We decided to walk and of course it was a lot longer walk than 20 minutes. We walked for nearly 40. By now it was noon and really hot. A few cars passed, but none had room for three hitchhikers.
Finally we reached the river and a sign that said Serena. There was bridge and we decided to cross. It looked like that was the only way to get down to the water. Once we started crossing, however, I began to seriously question our decision. It was really, really long and very high off of the water. And the boards weren’t nailed down! They would wobble as you stepped off of them. There were gaps between a lot of the boards, and you could see the water rushing by below. It was really scary.
Once our feet were on solid ground again, we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. There was a narrow path and a few houses, but mostly just jungle. We guessed what direction to walk and by pure luck found a path that brought us to the water.
We weren’t sure if this was the place where our friend had intended to send us, but it was really beautiful. There was a stretch of beach on our side of the river and huge cliffs shot out of the water on the other. It was just a little strange because there was no one around; it felt like we were the only people for miles.
We had a picnic lunch of fruit, juice, crackers and trail mix. We tried to swim, but the water was moving really fast, so instead we spread out towels and lay down on the sand.
I was just getting comfortable when we heard the buzz of motorcycles. We looked up and four motorcycles came barreling down the beach carrying 15 teenage boys. We frantically pulled on t-shirts, but kept sitting on our towels. We didn’t want to call a lot of attention to ourselves, although obviously that was pretty unavoidable as we were the only other people on the whole beach. The boys went further down and basically left us alone, apart from the typical cat calling and one boy took our picture, which was pretty awkward. Just as I was starting to relax again we heard a huge BOOM. The boys had set off dynamite in the river! Luckily after that they all piled on their motorcycles and left.
Shortly after, we decided we needed to try to get back too. We had been told the return bus to Tena wasn’t until 5 pm…so we were thinking that getting back was going to involve a lot of walking and hitchhiking.
We headed down the narrow path again and then back to the bridge. I had been dreading the return trip across the bridge all afternoon but I set off, keeping my eyes on the boards ahead of me and trying to get through it as quickly as possible. I looked up toward the end and realized Julia and Anna were getting on a bus! We got lucky and somehow the direct bus to Tena (the one we now realize we should have taken from the beginning) was right there at the end of the bridge. We jumped on and in thirty minutes we were back in Tena.