Our Italian group members left so we banded with the new arrivals, some Ecuadorian women who were quite nice and with whom we spent a good deal of time chatting. Our plan on Day 3 entailed fresh water dolphin watching, another hike through a forest, and another trip to the lagoon.
We saw only glimpses of dolphins. In fact, we didn’t see nearly as many animals as I expected. You think "jungle" or "rainforest" and you think animals galore. But the reality is most of these just aren’t accessible to humans on a canoe. We saw some monkeys and some cool colored birds. Anything that wasn’t green stood out against the endlessly green background.
My brother and I decided to take the afternoon off and read in the hammocks. (Hammocks, in Ecuador, are omnipresent and awesome.) That night, during and after dinner, we chatted for a couple hours in Spanish to the Ecuadorian women we met. Most fun.
We had assimilated pretty well, I think, into the jungle. Knew the routine around the campsite. Enjoyed the weather and scenery. Knew how to optimize one’s sitting position in a canoe.
Our long, weighed-down canoe ride back to Cuyabeno the next morning couldn’t have a come a moment too soon — I was ready for a warm shower. But I’m so glad I at least experienced the inside of a jungle, saw plants and animals that live nowhere else, and chatted with people from all over the world.
There one was last hiccup, though, before our Jungle experience was over. After getting out of the canoe and piling into a decrepit van (majorly cracked front window shield, duct tape covering one side of windows), we were stopped an hour into our drive to the airport by a man waving his hands. He spoke great English — a shocker — and told us that he worked for a tour company and had been informed that our flight from Lago Agria had been cancelled. He seemed credible, at least to our driver. He then told us that there was another flight out of Coca that we could try to get if it turned at the fork. After some deliberation, we decided to go to Lago Agria ourselves to see if the flight was actually cancelled.
We got to the terminal and, seeing that my brother and I were the only ones of our group who spoke any type of Spanish, he and I jumped out and asked the ticket agent. She said the flight was NOT cancelled and scheduled for on-time departure. At least this is what we thought we heard.
As we all waited around the flight to take off, the Europeans — such smokers and drinkers! — decided to buy everyone a beer. Everyone except John and I accepted. While they were out drinking a beer, celebrating their jungle experience and the fact that they made it to the airport on time with a flight that was still departing to Quito, John and I were approached by a ticket agent who spoke only Spanish. She said something about ha cancellado and that there were four tickets left for another flight. We weren’t quite sure what was going on. In the next few minutes, we were magically booked on another flight and took off 5 minutes later to Quito, earlier than expected. Our fellow Jungle travelers were left scratching their heads, begging for more info in English — and holding their beer.