Monday, November 1, 2010

NHESP 2010 Update 8

Preparing our Cataraft for the Jatun Yaku

A Poem by Julia

Every night my feet are reminded,
Reminded of the earth and how
Close we have been to it.
The sky over this river is a grey
Pad of simplicity: moon full and
Its rays coat the perfectly rounded
Stones like fresh dew.
The water’s rapids sound
Distant but we play, we enjoy,
And we learn here.

We’ve arrived back at Palugo Farm from our month long expedition experiencing the flows of Ecuador’s culture and diverse topography. Through our various trips into remote communities and lively cities, we got to see and feel the true Ecuador. Our trips were richer and more genuine than any voyage a tourist could take. So for this, our group would like to say a resounding thank you to the Dammers, to Kroka, and to the nourishing parents, siblings, friends, family, and schools that made this possible.

Checking out the maps with Thomas
Going downriver

From our luxurious stay in Tena, where we saw monkeys and parrots, ate from lime trees, played street soccer, caught snakes and lizards, played billiards, and ate juicy fruits, we said goodbye to our more than comfortable stay and drove to the river. Catarafting down the Jatun Yaku was the second chapter of our expedition. We got to our campsite and met up with Thomas and the Dammer brothers’ friend, Anjo, a fellow guide and experienced kayaker. We prepared the cataraft, which Thomas had engineered, and practiced paddling and swimming white water rapids. We woke up the next day and rafted down through class three and four rapids to our next camp on a beach. Michael and Anjo scouted out the nearby areas and found a local charka (a nomadic Ecuadorian farm) where they uprooted yucca (a common Ecuadorian crop, kind of like potatoes) and chopped a head of green plaintain with machetes. We ate more than we should have (boiled yucca, fried yucca chips, plaintain chips, and guava, a sweet fruit) and called it a night.  The next day would be a layover to catch up on rest and explore. The next day, Anjo gave kayaking lessons. Hannah, Dylan, and Armin successfully did a combat roll, a maneuver used in kayaking when one capsizes. Next, the whole group ferried across the strong currents to a vine hanging from the trees.   There we all climbed and saw how far we could swing, then released and fell into the soothing river. Then we ventured into a canyon and trekked around. Nicole taught a class on biodiversity and we learned about walking trees and sleeping plants. This eco-region is home to a diverse web of species from Conga ants that can put you in bed for a day, to the most colorful butterflies. We finished off the day with hacky-sack, fishing, and preparing for the next day on the river.
Our home for the night
With an early start, we paddled the lower section of the river. Carina, Pedro, Armin, Dylan, and I kayaked the flat-water section and a few lower class rapids with Anjo and Thomas. We stopped in several places to climb rocks, vines, and trees, and to cliff-jump into the water. The following day, we made it to Puerto Misahualli where we said our goodbyes to Thomas, Anjo, and Nicole, and welcomed Marcea into our crew. There we took hired pickup trucks to Capirona where we hiked with fifty-pound bags and the disassembled cataraft. We hiked for about 3 ½ hours to a remote community called 
Shiwacocha; there Isolina and Samuel greeted us. We rested the remainder of the afternoon and had scrumptious fish soup for dinner. The next day, we worked in the charkas, did various other chores, and began our next project of making bowls and cups out of pilches, a native fruit. We harvested the pilches and began to carve and engrave. Then we went into the bush to cut palms to fix Samuel’s roof. We got our faces painted with Huito’s friends and family with paint used for festivities and war. Later on, we ferried the river and went to Isolina and Samuel’s 
main charka to harvest papaya, plaintain, bamboo shoots, cocoa (chocolate), and bananas. For dinner we had fish and chichi, a drink only made by women.  They chew the yucca plant, spit out into a fermented paste, add boiled water, and serve. The next day, Hannah and Dylan woke up with Isolina and Samuel at four in the morning and began the day by drinking wayusa and cinnamon tea for a couple hours in complete silence. When the rest of us woke up, we had breakfast and went on a hike to learn about medicinal trees, harvest oily nuts, and explore waterfalls with bats. The next morning, we woke at four and said our goodbyes to Isolina, Samuel, and the rest of the friends and family. After catarafting for six hours, we canoed to Puerto Misahualli. From Puerto Misahualli, we took an hour long ride to Tena, and then a 6 hour bus ride into Pifo, where we met up with Francisco, who drove us home. These next two weeks will be filled with crafts, cooking, and preparing for our next expedition to Antisana for glacier school and mountaineering to prepare for Cotopaxi. It is key to take advantage of every second because unfortunately we only have about five weeks more in Ecuador.

Jungle life
Words with Tupac in Quechua

Amaru- snake
Atuk- wolf
Ruku- finger
Inti- sun
Nuka shuti mican-my name is…

Dylan’s Ají Recipe

Trekking to Schiwakotcha
-       7 Ají (seeds and all)
-       ½ Orange for juice
-       1 Lime for juice
-       1 Carrot
-       1 Onion
-       2 Cloves of garlic
-       Pinch of achiote
-       1 Tbsp salt
-       1 Tbsp paprika
-       ¼ cup Ají powder
-       2 Tbsp vegetable oil
-       Pinch of ginger powder
-       1 tomato
-       1 cup of water

1.     Chop up all the vegetables and put into a bowl
2.     Add all the dry spices and mix thoroughly with all of the vegetables
3.     Add orange and lime juice and mix again
4.     Mix in oil and water and mix thoroughly
5.     Let sit for around 30 minutes in a cold region
6.     Mush the entire mixture to get the vegetable juices to go into the water and oil
7.     Let sit for another 5 minutes
8.     Enjoy!
Options to change:
1.     more Ají=spicier
2.     instead of mushing the mixture you could put into a blender

            Happy Halloween!

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