Its an early start and quick breakfast before im picked up for my trip into the amazon.
Im so excited and cant wait for the day ahead though my excitement does subside during the long drive.
Our first stop is at a zoo refuge, all the animals have been rescued from poachers or were kept illegally as pets. Although I know it has good intentions I cant help but dislike it. You can tell it doesnt have the funds to operate as it should and all of the animals look miserable, the cages are too small and unkempt and the whole place just seems neglected. It seems my opinion isnt shared as the rest of the group walk around excited and snap pictures of all the haggard animals, seemingly oblivious.
Thankfully it doesnt last too long and we are back in the car, having managed not to say anything. We then arrive at the river where we stop to put on our boots/ jackets and also meet a little girl and her (illegal) pet monkey. Although i know its been taken and is being kept i cant help but give in and I get a quick monkey cuddle before it runs back to its owner.
As we get in the canoe im excited and nervous in equal parts- it doesnt feel like the most sturdy of inventions and it doesnt help that as soon we get going the captain is already bailing out the boat!
As we cruise down the amazon river the sights are more than I imagined. The lush green jungle towers around, only interupted by brief glimpses of the odd indiginous house and the water stretches on as far as you can see.
All too soon we have to get out, arriving at our lunch stop. Its a cute place, but again I feel uncomfortable. They are new buildings designed to look like village houses and inside as we sit down its like a restaurant, not quite the traditional lunch it was made out to be and once more its just me who seems to not be enjoying it. It just feels too produced and set up, though im not sure i can be suprised when i have come on a tour.
Afer eating we start our trek through the jungle to a waterfall. This is my favourite so far, feeling like I am finally seeing the real Amazon. The canopy overhead provides shade from the sun and gigantic trees surround us, as i look around I try to catch a glimpse of a monkey or macaws but all I get is enormous spiders (eek!).
As we pass a river our guide pauses to collect some clay. He says its 100% pure clay and that its great for your skin, free facial it is! We continue and then reach a Tarzan swing, its tied so high up I can barely see and swings out over a ledge, giving a view to the river below. We all wait our turn and as i step off the platform its exhilerating, i dont want to get off!
A short walk further and we reach the waterfall, its stunning. The weather has changed and its begining to rain but I cant come this far and not go in. Ditching the clothes (and clay facial) I go for a dip, very quickly getting back out again and getting dry- its way too cold!
After people braver than me have finished swimming we trek back to the cars, heading off to our final stop of the day- a traditional amazon village.
Im a bit confused when we park next to a bridge, not far from the main road and after a 5 minute walk (on a marked path) we arrive at the village. Traditional is not the word i would use and its no suprise when we are told that its a tourism village, created for visits though there are a few people living there.
There is a welcome song in Quechua (the traditional language), we have a welcome drink (no idea whats in it, tastes good) and there is women in traditional dress who are dancing though look so uncomfortable and are hating every minute.
We are then shown a little hut where you can buy jewellry that has been made in the village and can look around the grounds. I try to appreciate it but I just cant see past the fact its existence is for the self indulgence of tourists even though right now I am one of them. I have been far too lucky with my time that I spent in Fiji, maybe if I hadnt then i would be just like everyone else here- trying to take selfies with the kids who hate it and only do it if you pay them. The end cant come soon enough and I have mixed emotions as we make the drive away from Puyo back to Banos.
I know that it is trips like mine that help some to make a living and it is teaching a small amount about a culture and lifestyle that is dying out, though its because of this enforced progression and our need to know everything and find that ‘undiscovered’ place that it is becoming extinct. Today I felt embaressed to be a tourist and dissapointed at the destruction caused all over the world because of the industry, though its one of the lesser problems going on. I had hoped that there would still be a genuine-ness to the trip but in reality how is that possible when hundreds of people are visiting with their money and gadgets everyday.
Its evening by the time I arrive back at the hostel and after a much needed shower and my free dinner of Veggie Risotto i head to bed, still with conflicted feelings and thoughts about the day.