Kapawi Ecolodge Day 4 - Monday 26th March ‘07 (contd.) You may recall that a week ago when I left you, I was carping on about the extremely parlous state of the USA and its security paranoia. Well, later this week at Kapawi, various US nationals from retired senators to senior corporation execs and professionals, voiced their own embarrassment. So be it.
The other side of the coin is that there are no such paralells with the minor airlines of Ecuador. Staff and crew were all efficient, co-operative and extremely pleasant. At any transit, ground staff paid close attention to our needs and provided coffeee, sandwiches & newspapers. We were kept informed to the minute of any weather dependent changes that were needed. The DeHavilland Twin Otter (Twin Otter) operated by AeroMaster S.A, with ground facilities and the 737 operated by VIP airlines were faultless. Well done to them both. We landed at Kapawi community jungle airstrip at lunchtime. Descending into the suffocating humidity and heat, we were cordially greeted and directed to the nearby arrivals lounge.
This consisted of a post and palm roof open building boasting a table, a bench for three and a wheelbarrow. We were offered ice-cold lemonade or water - very welcome. Vivid butterflies tumbled and floated around us stopping occasionally to sample the salty sweat from our arms.
After the 15 minute walk to the Kapawi community dock we were pleased that we had kept our baggage to 25lbs. Kapawi community has a school and a mission church and accepts weekly pupil boarders from surrounding villages. The English teacher and a nun travelled with us. We then gingerly board a motorised river canoe (one of us forcefully reminds others not to rock the boat), that whisks us in ten minutes to the Kapawi Ecolodge. The lodges are set back from the Rio Capuhuari around the edge of a lagoon or cocha. They are approached from the dock where we land, by a raised boardwalk, The water in the cocha is very low. Vegetation is encroaching and all could soon be land. (Kapawi cocha)
After checking in we have a briefing that outlines the possible activities, After lunch our first activity is a rerun of the river trip to the Rio Pastaza. The low water levels had exposed massive sandbanks that were starting to grow vegetation.There appears to be little of interest but the the approaching dusk gives a moody introduction to the jungle margins, We are privvy to the Cicada, frog and monkey choruses. We find several Capybara tracks. Two tracks show that a large adult with a younger capybara had crossed the sands earlier and melted into the waters of the Pastaza.
Light starts to fade quickly.(Dusk on the Rio Pastaza) We are back at the dock in 15 minutes as darkness falls. It is 6.30 p.m. Already we are settling into the Kapawi regime. A full day of activities, Little time to reflect or rest, No time to write diaries.
The food is welcome, with a decent proportion of Ecuadorian dishes. At 8.45 p.m. we set off on a 2 mile night-time jungle hike. Rubber boots and DEET mosquito repellant are `de riguer'', as are long sleeved shirts and lightweight long trousers. Our headlamps and torches seek out new insects, frogs and other all seeing animals. Not disappointing, not dangerous( probably much safer than Chicago or London on a Saturday night). At 10.00 p.m. we return for a quick beer in the Lounge/bar/shop/library. A large bat circles the inside of the dimly lit lodge above our heads. Someone opens the door, but it is wisely closed against the mosquitoes. The bat remains and no one has yet been bitten. We later learn that when the Philodendron plants that grow in the lagoon are cut and subsequently decay, they release a substance into the water that discourages mosquitoes. Biological control is at work - but keep taking the tablets! And so to bed. Protected by the Philodendron, mosquito screens, heavy curtains, a very effective mosquito net amply tucked in, the burning coil, malarone, etc, etc, don''t forget the citronella and garlic, This is called security in depth. Did I suggest that George Bush was paranoid?