“Jungle Boogie”

I am almost caught up, April is the last!
The month was filled, as usual, with all sorts of activities from lunches with friends to watching impromptu parades.

*IMG_3207**2

Several of us gals decided to start a “Girl’s Spa Day” and once a month head out to Baños to one of the spas. Baños is only about a 20-minute ride on the local bus and for those of us over 65, the ride only costs 12.5¢!!
DSC02348Bus
Our biggest event, though, was a 3-night/4-day trip to Sucúa, on the edge of the jungle. Thirty-three of us boarded the bus at 6:30 am and headed out on our “Jungle Boogie” trip.
*7Cuenca4-25-16OnBus
The bus ride took about 5 hours through beautiful countryside, scenic villages and plenty of waterfalls. I am sorry the pictures along our drive aren’t the best of quality as they were taken from a moving bus and through tinted and slightly dirty windows. So please overlook and just enjoy the experience of the trip.
MapCuenca2Sucua
*18Cuenca4-25-16About13KmPalmas
*26Cuenca4-25-16ViewFrom13KmPalmas
*37Cuenca4-25-16BetweenPalmas&Amaluza
After arriving at Luzcelinda Hosteria, our home for the next three days and nights, it was time to enjoy the pool. Sucúa is much warmer than Cuenca so the pool was a welcome relief and a great way to relax before heading off to dinner.
*59Cuenca4-25-16PoolLuzcelinda
62Cuenca4-25-16PoolLuzcelindaMike
Dinner was at Hacienda Marujita where not only was the food great but we had a demonstration of what life is like in one of the local tribes. The Shuar people of Ecuador are an indigenous tribe living in the tropical rainforests, lowlands and savannas of the country. There are different groups of Shuar: those who reside in the wet lowlands that stretch along the Andes from Ecuador into Peru; those who prefer the Andes foothills; and those who remain in the tropical forests located high in the Andes Mountains.
*72Sucua4-25-16Entertainment                                                                                                                                         Isn’t he the cutest little thing you have ever seen?
*84Sucua4-25-16GroupWhat a great way to end the day.
Our first full day in Sucúa started by greeting the morning as we slathered on plenty of bug repellent, slid into our rubber boots and headed for breakfast. After sharing breakfast with new and old friends, we boarded the bus for our next adventure, Los Laberintos del Chiguaza (the labyrinths of Chiguaza).
We crossed the Rio Chiguaza on an old wooden bridge and entered the compound where we would begin our adventure. There were many beautiful views from here as we waited to begin. We even saw them filleting the Tilapia that would be lunch when we got back.

*88Sucua4-26-16Bridge2LaberintosDelChiguaza

*98Sucua4-26-16Tilapia
Entering the labyrinth felt like what I imagine going back thousands of years would feel like. The jungle was thick, wet and green and, if it wasn’t for our group, there would be no sound but nature. The rocks jutting from the ground, at times higher than my head, made up the labyrinth we wove in and out of.
*155Sucua4-26-16Laberinth
*170Sucua4-26-16GoingThruLaberinth
Then, to add excitement, we went up and down sometimes steep and slippery hills and eventually ended up at the shores of the Rio Pastaza.
*198Sucua4-26-16SteepClimbDown
*189Sucua4-26-16RioPastaza
*218Sucua4-26-16SusanMike
From there we crawled along rocks to caves where we saw little bats, beautiful butterflies (one found Mike’s shirt and stayed there for some time) and even filled a bottle with water from within the cave. The last part, the climb out, was the hardest. As I looked where we were heading I said to Mike, “that path goes straight up!” And indeed it did, but we made it.
*226Sucua4-26-16StartingClimbOverRocks
*240Sucua4-26-16Bat
*239Sucua4-26-16GettingWater
208SucuaOriginal4-26-16MikeButterfly
Once we were back at the compound we were ready for lunch and a much needed rest.
*248Sucua4-26-16TalapiaLunch
After lunch we boarded the bus for the ride back and all of us eagerly anticipated either a refreshing swim in the pool or a nice soak in the hot tub to ease the soreness out of the body…or maybe even both.
That evening most went into town for dinner but a few of us didn’t have the energy and just stayed put, ordering pizza from across the street and eating dinner around the pool.
We all went to bed tired but so happy to have experienced the day.
Our second day started with breakfast around the pool. This morning there was a turtle enjoying a swim and he wasn’t about to have it interrupted. They kept fishing him out of the pool with a pool net but back in he would go. I left before I found out if they gave up and let him swim or eventually put him somewhere else.
*261Sucua4-27-16Turtle
Today was called the “City Slicker” day at Hacienda Marujita. Before heading out to explore the property we sampled some Chuchuguazo, which is like a brandy, and is known as “Amazon whiskey.” I found, after a little internet search regarding Chuchuguazo, that the various producers jealously guard their recipes. It is produced in several cities in the Amazon region, but Macas is where the highest quality is found. Among the variety of brands, “Chuchuguazo d’María”, which is what we had, is said to be the best. Mary Virano learned well from her father, an expert winemaker in the art of making Italian spirits, and it is reflected in the quality of their Chuchuguazo.
*290Sucua4-27-16PouringChuchuguazo
Unfortunately it was way too hot so Mike and I went back to the restaurant early to get in the shade. I spent the time trying to learn my camera by taking pictures of the butterflies and flowers.
*283Sucua4-27-16Butterfly
When the rest of the group returned they were carrying cocoa pods that were opened and shared. You took the big seed out of the pod and sucked the pulp from it.
*311Sucua4-27-16Cacoa
We were shown already dried cocoa beans that were ground into a paste to make fresh hot chocolate. YUM!!
*316Sucua4-27-16Cacoa***
Then some coffee beans were roasted on the stovetop and ground for us to taste freshly roasted coffee.
*318Sucua4-27-16RoastingCoffee
Back at the hotel we had time for a swim and soak in the hot tub before getting ready for dinner.
*324Sucua4-27-16GroupHotTub
This morning was a trip to the botanical garden. Since it was raining, and neither Mike nor I had a desire to traipse around in the rain, we stayed back at the hotel and lounged in the hammocks.
*345Sucua4-28-16MikeHammock
After a wonderful few days it was time to head home. The ride back was as spectacular as it was going only this time we climbed up into the clouds.
*350Sucua4-28-16OutsideSucua
*369Sucua4-28-16BetweenMendez&Guarumales
*389Sucua4-28-16BetweenGuarumales&SantaRita
*410Sucua4-28-16BetweenGuarumales&SantaRitaManHorse
*419Sucua4-28-16AroundSantaRita
Until next time,

Abrazos

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