This the second blog entry from Ecuador takes us to the jungle village Lisan Wasi near Puyo. Most raft guides have winter gigs. Some work the ski slopes and others head south to Latin America. I am taking a winter break from my Ocoee Rafting summer gig in Ecuador with Baños de Agua Santa as my center of operations. The low prices here coupled with living frugally during the spring and summer have allowed me to avoid working the past couple of months to really explore Ecuador. Just this week my sixty pound propane tank went empty while I cooked breakfast. Within two hours a propane tank truck stopped and changed out my tank for just $3. That represents my only utility bill. Rent is just $250 per month for a furnished apartment with hot water and electricity.
Ivo joined Holly and me for our adventure to Lisan Wasi village in the jungle near Puyo Ecuador. We met a lot of interesting people at Lisan Wasi. We also learned about plants that can heal and nourish as well as some local culture and traditions. The food was great both healthy and tasty. However getting to the village was also an adventure.
This time we ate a hearty breakfast at home before hiking to the bus station. We arrived at the bus station at 11:00 AM just as the bus to Puyo was departing. Ivo flagged the bus down and we boarded. The fare was just $2 each to travel 60k from Baños de Agua Santa to Puyo. We arrived to rain in Puyo. The incoming terminal featured hardly more than a public baño and a narrow porch. Using the baño cost $0.15 or $0.25 if you needed paper.
We took a short hike in the rain toward the main terminal to find a taxi to Lisan Wasi about 20k away. The taxi drivers we encountered at the main terminal all wanted $20 for fare. Ivo said the fair rate was $8. We walked toward the central market looking for another taxi. Along the way we found a nice Ecuadorian restaurant. The meal consisted of soup, fried breaded chicken breast filet with rice and gravy made from yuca. The fruit juice was very good. after extensive haggling we finally found a taxi near the market that was willing to take us for $10.
Our taxi dropped us off at the trail to Lisan Wasi. Ivo was impressed by the new signs for the small community in the small parking area by the foot bridge across the Rio Puyo. After a nice hike across the river and beyond roads we were warmly greeted by the residents of the village. Ivo had previously spent a few months as a volunteer at the village.
Holly and I were shown the village and surroundings. Several traditional buildings dotted the grounds and gardens adjacent to the Rio Puyo. The class III rapid just behind the village reminded me of the Middle Ocoee River in Tennessee. A rain storm brought the rapid up to a level similar to our releases on the Ocoee River. The plants and buildings were beautiful.
The guayusa tea lodge had many stumps and logs to sit upon and three hammocks. The tea was brewed in a large cast iron pot using whole leaves of the guayusa. The tea cups were made from grouds. A small monkey named Lisan took an instant liking to Holly. Lisan the monkey likes to climb up on peoples heads and hold on to hair. Much like young monkeys in the wild cling to their mothers. Lisan stalked Holly and followed her around much like Chucky of “Child’s Play” fame. I had to watch the monkey to rescue Holly a few times; especially after the monkey tried to take Holly’s glasses.
Many medicinal plants are grown in the open space between buildings in the “town square” as well as in the edge of the jungle. The open space gardens also double as places for the monkey and kids to play. The kids are free-range and go swimming in the river or exploring the jungle without supervision; they were very happy and friendly. I also observed the way the kids interacted with Lisan the monkey. Bugs were minimal and I did not observe any mosquitoes.
We got a ride back to Baños with some new friends we met at Lisan Wasi including a local girl from the town of Riobamba and Sal from the Bronx! Sal has been exploring Latin America non-stop for the past two years. We stopped along the way and enjoyed some local ice cream. We chilled for awhile at the Hostal where Ivo works before some friends continued on to Columbia or Peru. I am enjoying my time in Ecuador and avoiding winter but I look forward to returning to the Ocoee soon to go whitewater rafting and kayaking. I hope to see you this summer!