Chelsea: Ants=yummy

October 11, 2011

Last week was just a normal week in Quito! We had a full week of classes, with some time off to write our essay…that’s what I love about school here. With all of our 3 essays (yes, I have to remind myself this is the equivalent of a semester at home) we have time off during the week to work on it (aka explore Quito). So, last week I went to the market and out to lunch a few times!

This weekend was the most adventure-filled, by far! I, along with 9 other girls, went 6 hours to the East of Quito, into the Amazon for the weekend! On Friday, we luckily had the day off from classes, so we had time to travel during the day and see a little bit of the town of Tena at night, which was right on the river and was a peaceful, but lively place!

On Saturday, we set out a little deeper into the Amazon. Our group took an all-day canoe trip that was filled with many amazing experiences! We visited a small museum and animal reserve (with a lot of loose monkeys!!), but my favorite part by far was the walk into the “selva” (rain forest). With rented boots (that saved me), we walked for a few hours around the rain forest with our faces painted with the crushed seeds of a flower that a few communities use to paint their faces / hair. 

The walk was definitely muddy / steep at parts, but with one guide named Panther and the other with a machete, I didn’t feel the least bit in danger! We got to swing on a vine, learn about medicinal plants, chew natural anesthesia that numbed my tongue, snort a liquid from a plant to clear the sinuses (which it did!), and eat ants (picture below). Yes, I ate live ants, that tasted exactly like lemon….and I had seconds. At the time, all of these things seemed quite normal and I did all of them without hesitation, but now looking back, I realize they’re not an everyday thing for most of us!

Later, we ate lunch (a mix of rice and sausage inside a leaf) and had the chance to swim in the Napo River (which connects to the Amazon River). So, after the guide so gracefully jumped into the river from the zipline, I was super excited to try it! Attempt 1 = complete failure. I pushed off (which I found out later I shouldn’t have done), and therefore, my hands slipped and I fell before getting to the river. Luckily, I landed in the one place between rocks and trees that there was soft sand 🙂 (don’t worry, there is a video. definitely AFV-potential) But, I’m happy to report attempt 2 was much more successful – and a lot of fun, just a bit of a shock once you land in the river with such a strong current!

After our long day, we ate at a delicious Italian restaurant that had 2 sloths just crawling around the walls 🙂 The next morning, we headed a few minutes north and explored some caves! We got to walk through these caverns (and through some tight passages that made me glad to be “fun-sized”) and swim in the lagoon & waterfall within the caves – definitely a surreal experience!

Well, off to classes! This is my last full week of classes, since we have another essay due next week. Next week is my last week in Quito before leaving for my internship in Latacunga, 2 hours south. Can’t believe I’ve already been here so long! But, I’m excited for my last 2 weeks in Quito, to start my internship, and for some exciting trips I have planned.

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