Ecuadorian Amazon Day 5

January 16, 2014

We started today with a hike out to a beautiful waterfall that doubled as one of the more powerful showers I've ever used. That said, with the waterfall cascading ~25 meters down a cliff, the hike to and from said waterfall was fairly strenuous, involving quite a bit of climbing up and down hills. Still worth it.

After returning from the waterfall, we got back in the canoe and went to the last Huaorani village we would visit. There we were shown how the Huaorani start fires (the traditional spinning stick on a specific type of bark), met with one of the Huaorani elders, and I even was able to buy a Huaorani blowgun.

After this, we got back on the river for one last journey. Traveling out of Huaorani territory, it quickly became obvious that others were not valuing the forest as the Huaorani do. Large gaps in the forest became common, where massive numbers of trees had been cut down. Colorful songbirds made way for flocks of vultures. While still magnificent terrain, the change was obvious and disheartening.

We ended our canoe journey at a bridge crossing the river and swapped into a pair of pickup trucks, saying farewell to our Huaorani hosts, to drive to Coca for our flight back to Quito. The road was built by the oil companies and the changes here were even more marked than along the river. Especially worrisome was the large number of extremely rusty pipes carrying oil--it seemed like it wouldn't take much for a leak to contaminate any of the numerous rivers that eventually feed into the mighty Amazon. While even the simple extraction of oil has clear consequences for the area, a leak could be catastrophic.

A few hours later we boarded our flight and left the rainforest. Quite a spectacular visit.