Posts Tagged With: Canoe

Day 36/164: Rest Day in Puyo

We had to be at Hosteria reception by 8am for the jungle tour Sue and I had booked. Then Mike from Scotland and Chris from Vancouver decided to come as well. Mike’s wife Katrina had fallen off her bike a couple of days ago and needed to stay behind to get her bike fixed. Chris’s partner Jackie was stuck in her room with gastro!  While we were waiting we found out a number of the other riders now also had gastro and suspected the meal the night before. Hopefully as I still taking medication I won’t get it again, and hopefully theirs will be shorter lived than mine was.

The tour driver turned up, for $50 USA we were doing a full day tour, including:

  • Walk through the jungle looking at plants, flowers and birds
  • Going to a fish growing farm
  • Lunch
  • A canoe trip
  • Walking to a viewing point where you can see the jungle stretching out for as far as the eye can see, plus the opportunity to go on a rope swing from a clift
  • Hand crafts and customs at a local village
  • Pretty good value, especially in the context of having paid $45 USA for the not very good red wine in the restaurant (about 70 NZ).
The tour driver and Chris from Vancover

The tour driver and Chris from Vancover

The first step was to the tour base in town, to get coats and gumboots. Mike bought socks for everyone from a shop across the road as gumboots with no socks is a really good way to get blisters! While we were waiting for him to come back we were watching a procession go past. The tour guide said it’s an annual pilgrimage of an indigenous tribe from the Amazon who celebrate their coming out of the forest in time of drought to Puyo. They walk 16 kilometres during the procession.

Procession in Puyo

Procession in Puyo

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People in the procession

Off we set in the tour van, the first stop was a fish farm. The fish were imported from Africa, they are called Confiscadas de Crianza de Tilapias. They imported 50 fish from Africa, but only 6 of the original 50 remain, the others have died over the years for a number of reasons.

Name of the fish

Name of the fish

There are a number of fish ponds. One where the small fish to feed the bigger fish are produced. The 6 original fish are 6 years old and have only just started laying eggs. They grow to 4 meters and about 80kg, and when fully grown they sell for about $1,500 USA.  The fish are huge, and remind me a big of eels – only wider. They track your reflection on the water and move across the pond following you.

The fish - they grow up to 4 meters long, 89 kilos, and are approx 6 years old here

The fish – they grow up to 4 meters long, 89 kilos, and are approx 6 years old here

Another photo of the fish

Another photo of the fish

Owner of the fish farm

Owner of the fish farm

Back into the van to the next stop: the jungle walk. It was amazing! We got shown various medicinal trees and plants.

About to go on the jungle walk with Sue

About to go on the jungle walk with Sue

Off we go for our rain forest walk (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Off we go for our rain forest walk (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

First was the vines that are used to make poisonous darts. They are boiled and then pounded to get the poison – the indigenous people have an antidote.

The vine that is used to make poisonous arrows

The vine that is used to make poisonous arrows

We were also shown a tree that had sap that is used as an ointment for wounds for infection, a tree that the sap is used for bee stings, a plant that the leaves are used to make a tea for upset stomachs, and a tree that the bark is menthol and is used for chest and sinus infections.

The tree that is cut to get sap that is used for the salve/ ointment for cuts

The tree that is cut to get sap that is used for the salve/ ointment for cuts

The salve from the tree for cuts / infections

The salve from the tree for cuts / infections

Sap from this tree is used for bee and other insect stings

Sap from this tree is used for bee and other insect stings

Leaves to crush up and make a tea infusion for upset stomachs

Leaves to crush up and make a tea infusion for upset stomachs

Tree that bark smells like menthol, used for sinus and cyst infections

Tree that bark smells like menthol, used for sinus and cyst infections

Smells very menthol like (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Smells very menthol like (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

As well as this we saw a tree that the sap is used for painting faces for ceremonies that last up to three days.

Tree with orange pigment used by natives to paint on skin, lasts 2 to 3 days

Tree with orange pigment used by natives to paint on skin, lasts 2 to 3 days

We saw some pretty orchids and got to have face masks from river clay.

Orchid on the jungle tour

Orchid on the jungle tour

Sue and I with river clay masks

Sue and I with river clay masks

Chris, Sue, Mike and Kaye (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Chris, Sue, Mike and Kaye (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

We also went to a waterfall where Chris and Mike had a swim, and saw some recent stone carvings.

Cleaning the mud off (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Cleaning the mud off (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Going for a paddle (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Going for a paddle (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Sue, the guide, Chris (from Vancover) and Mike (from Scotland) at the waterfall

Sue, the guide, Chris (from Vancover) and Mike (from Scotland) at the waterfall

Another view of the waterfall

Another view of the waterfall

Carving in soft rock by waterfall done recently

Carving in soft rock by waterfall done recently

Communing with the spirits (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Communing with the spirits (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Fording streams (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Fording streams (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Lunch was included as part of the tour. It was steamed fish, salad, rice and plantain.

Amazonian Forest Lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Amazonian Forest Lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Fish for lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Fish for lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

We then went to a village of local indigenous people and learnt about some of their customs and saw some of their crafts.

My camera battery had gone flat by this stage so any photos for the rest of the day will need to come from Sue’s blog. (Editor’s note: Just as well I looked at Sue’s blog, as you’ll see below, there are photos of Kaye holding monkeys and parrots, getting her face painted, being near people holding snakes, and having a bunch of other adventures she’s completely failed to even mention here!).

We cross the river to a small community (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

We cross the river to a small community (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Sue, Mike, Chris, and Kaye (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Sue, Mike, Chris, and Kaye (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Kaye with face paint and hat (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Face paint and hat (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Kaye and the tamarin monkey (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

With a tamarin monkey (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Kaye and the parrot (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

And with a parrot (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Outside the large communal building (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Outside the large communal building (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Sue with the latest neck wear (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Sue with the latest neck wear (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Then we went off on the canoe trip. The canoe was a shelled out tree and fitted four people, plus the person steering. It was a bit scary at first as the river was fast moving but it was great fun. The guide said that the wet / rainy season is usually January / February but this year the rain has not stopped. This explains the numerous landslides and fast full rivers.

All aboard (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

All aboard (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

And off we go (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

And off we go (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Look at that surf (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Look at that surf (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

After this we went to a place that you could climb up and get a great view of the forest and rivers, whilst relaxing looking at the view from hammocks. There was a rope swing to go on which was over a huge drop. I started wondering how secure the branch was that the rope was tied to, and after I had thought that I was not able to go on swing.

Climbing up to get the view (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Climbing up to get the view (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

A wonderful hammock interlude to the day (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A wonderful hammock interlude to the day (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

View from the top (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

View from the top (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

View from the top of the rainforest (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

View from the top of the rainforest (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Sue on the tree swing with a huge drop off (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Sue on the tree swing with a huge drop off (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

A last look out at the view (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A last look out at the view (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

After that it was time to head back to the place where we were staying. On the way back we could hear the clutch on the tour truck was slipping. It got so bad that we had to get out twice to push the tour truck up the hills. We were still 16 kilometres from where we needed to go but after pushing it twice we had got back to the main road. We left the tour guy there as there was nothing we could do and caught a taxi.

The clutch starts slipping (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The clutch starts slipping (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The dinner at the place where we staying on the first night was pretty meagre so a number of people, including me, went elsewhere for dinner.

Six more days riding till the next rest day.

Known as a phone tree, when you are lost you hit the tree and it makes a sound that reverberates and help will come

Known as a phone tree, when you are lost you hit the tree and it makes a sound that reverberates and help will come

Beautiful butterfly on jungle tour, when it was flying the inside of the rings are brilliant blue.

Beautiful butterfly on jungle tour, when it was flying the inside of the rings are brilliant blue.

Place we are staying at - you have to go over a suspension bridge to get to it

Place we are staying at – you have to go over a suspension bridge to get to it

The suspension bridge at place we are staying at

The suspension bridge at place we are staying at

Kaye finds a dog to talk to very quickly (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Kaye finds a dog to talk to very quickly (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Ecuador, South American Epic, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 5: San Marcos to Caucasia – 122km

428 km down: 13,213 km to go

I set off from the hotel at 6:30am thinking “122 kilometres with 65 kilometres off road, how bad could it be?”.

Well. It had rained constantly overnight and the dirt road was actually a dirt bath. The first 3 to 4 kilometres were ok, but then it was followed by a section where the mud was so thick and wet you could not ride and you could not push your bike either. Every time you tried, you got 10 meters and then had to spend 5 minutes pulling mud out of the front and back tyres and chain of the bike.

The mud road

The mud road

A couple of times along the track the locals helped us out and hosed down our bikes. There was about 3 kilometres where the only option was to carry your bike. My bike is 18 kilos, plus the panniers that kept trying to fall off at every opportunity, though they were also hooked around my bike chain and locked so I couldn’t actually lose them. I would get about 30 meters carrying the bike and have to stop then go another 30 meters and so on. Thankfully the temperature was kinder than previous days, it was only 26 degrees.

A local hosing down my bike

A local hosing down the bikes (Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

The locals all waved and smiled at us as we went past, and were probably thinking “Stupid foreigners, why the heck don’t they use the main road!”.

After a while there were bits you could ride but I still had to keep jumping off whenever it got to a muddy bit, sometimes 20 meters, sometimes 50, then we got to some stretches where you could ride 200 to 300 meters. I fell off a number of times and was caked in mud, mainly by thinking the mud was harder than it was and over balancing when my bike slipped. I soon learnt not to try and steer when this happened.

Ironic, I thought I bought my bike here for it to carry me, not the other way round! After a stretch of a few kilometres where it started to get better I was feeling hopeful, then I saw riders carrying their bikes over a 500 metre stretch that was a quagmire. Luckily after this it improved again.

The quagmire

Carrying your bike was the only way to go (Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

stopped

Stopped for a quick drink – yes, I am as exhausted as I look (Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

We had to go 35 kilometres and then catch a canoe to the other side for 2000 pesos, which is about 1 New Zealand Dollar. When we got there, there were heaps of locals collected to watch the entertainment, and the local children were fundraising by washing our bikes for 2000 pesos each. They were most enthusiastic and you had to stop them from rushing off with the panniers still attached.

kids

The kids washing the bikes (Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

Locals

Locals on the river bank watching us

gfgd

Canoe loading in progress (Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page)

Then across on the canoe – which was more of a long boat – to the other side, about 50 meters. Once we got to the other side it was narrow, windy, muddy and at times steep. I decided to walk as I had fallen off enough for the day, and because of this I lost contact with the other two riders who I had come across in the canoe with.

Thankfully it started getting a bit easier and less narrow, however then I came to another river and another canoe, and this was not in my notes! I started to get that sick feeling that I was lost. I pointed down the river rather than across and the two ferryman shook their heads and pointed to the canoe. I was still dubious, so they decided for me by pulling my bike on board.

Sitting on the canoe I could feel my bottom lip start to tremble and then tears slide out of my eyes as I was really worried that I was going the wrong way. “Stop being a baby”, I told myself “I’m sure the locals know what they’re doing”.

Over the other side I biked about 5 kilometres feeling a bit worried, and then came to a house where the road curved. There was Christiano, the tour leader, who had to come to the first point that there was vehicle access, as he knew that we would be worried that there was a second canoe crossing. I was so pleased to see him I burst into tears and hugged him.

Off again, more dirt roads, another 35 kilometres to go, thankfully only had to get off on average every 500 metres. My cleats and clips were so clogged with mud that I could not clip them in, and it got very wearying trying to balance my shoes on top. I tried washing them a few times in puddles without much success.

I seemed to ride forever and just when I thought “Ok I have missed a turn”, I came to a more built up area (5 to 6 houses) and then thankfully hard tarmac and there was the lunch truck! I could not believe it was 3:50pm! 9 hours for 65 kilometres and still 55 to go.

I had a quick lunch, once again the local children washed the bike for 2000 pesos. My bike was clucking and clacking and I could not get into the biggest gear. I managed to get another 35 kilometres but it gets dark at 6ish, and I did not have my light or reflector as I had no reason to think it would be needed that morning.

After 35 kilometres I made the call that I wouldn’t get another 20 kilometres before it got dark. By this time I was on a main highway with lots of trucks, and motorbikes zooming along on the shoulder.

I decided to stop at the toll booth where it is well lit – and there are Policia – to wait for the truck to pick me up. I asked the policia man if I could sit there, he seemed agreeable although after I had been there for about 45 minutes in the dark he tried to ask me what I was up to – in Spanish. After no success there was a huddle of the policia and then about 10 minutes later another man arrived and sat down next to me and asked if I spoke English. I told him what was happening, he spoke to the Policia and all was fine. I was pleased I had bought my bug cream in my pannier, as I was there for another 30 minutes.

It was 8pm by the time we got to camp. A number of riders only got to lunch and one of the riders Asha had lost his rear derailer, and was up for ages repairing his bike.

It was a tired lot putting up tents in the dark (my headlight batteries ran out of course!), sorting our bikes and getting the mud off (2 showers for all the riders – but thankfully there were showers at all!).

Sue had broken 7 spokes on her bike and another rider and I had wrecked our riding shoes (both of us had old shoes). I have been wearing my new riding shoes as walking shoes on rest days to try and break them in so I don’t get my feet covered with blisters. The clips are inserted into the sole, and then you put a cover over the sole.

When I got onto the truck I had both panniers and my bike chain lock, but I haven’t seen my bike chain lock since. Last time I was on the truck I had got on with 2 water bottles now I only have one. I am carrying water in my panniers, and will buy a new chain and lock when I see a bike store.

This one photo pretty much sums up the day. This isn't posed - it's where Sue fell off her bike Photo credit: Sue's Facebook page

This one photo pretty much sums up the day. This isn’t posed – it’s where Sue and her bike landed when she fell off.
Photo credit: Sue’s Facebook page

Categories: Columbia, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments