Havent had a chance to post much this week so I'm going to try to catch up on everything. Last weekend was the trip to the jungle.. I put some more pictures up on the link below. It was amazing. The first stop we made on Saturday was at a monkey reserve. They are monkey's that were either pets or have something wrong with them (one was missing a hand).. they raise them there until they can be let back out into the jungle a few miles away. The jungle we went to didnt have native monkeys.. which was kinda disappointing. But we got to hang out with the ones there. They love people.. they will just come up to you and you can put your hand out and they will climb up you. They also like playing with the dog thats there and they have an otter and a couple other jungle animals. Next we went to a tribal jungle village. We got our faces painted by the locals with the juice of some nut that can be cracked open. We needed it because they were having a Christmas celebration at one of the huts that we were going to attend. The celebration consisted of everyone sitting around the outside in a cirlce with people in the middle dancing and yelling and beating drums. Also women would come around constantly to people sitting around the outside and pour chicha. It was alcohol made from the yuca plant root. It did not taste good at all and I only had two sips of it just because otherwise I felt bad for not taking it. I'm really glad I only chose to drink it twice because when we got back to Quito we found out how they made it. Basically women in the village chew on the yuca root and then spit it out into a large bowl.. several women do this to make a lot. Then they let it ferment for a few days and then drink it. So your pretty much drinking several women saliva, some little bits of yuca, and the juice from the yuca.. it was more disgusting after I found out what it was. A lot of people get parasites from drinking it but I've felt fine all week. After the celebration we canoed down a river to our lodge and ate lunch. Then we went on a small hike to a waterfall, swam, and then hiked to another lodge and climbed up to a lookout point where they had some hammocks and a rope swing. The scenery was really cool. Sunday we hiked from 9 am until about 3 pm. Some of the time were weren't even on a trail.. we were literally hiking through the jungle which is not easy because of how thick it is. Our guide showed us how to make a torch, use fiber from a plant to make really strong string, and plants and insects to eat. We ate the heart of a palm tree.. which was really good, termites, lemon ants, a random leaf, and snorted a mixture of water and the juice from a leaf. The guide called it the coke tree because its best to snort the mixture like cocaine.. but its not bad for you.. its actually used for headaches and to clear your sinuses. The lodge we stayed in was pretty basic.. bunk beds with a roof overtop and four walls but everything is open. We had to sleep with mosquito nets over us which is not very comfortable because its constantly touching you. It felt a lot like camping except the bugs at night are waaayy louder!
Last week at school I had to do a lot of grading of homework and a quiz.. most classes did terrible on it because they didn't study or come in for help... which apparently is to much to ask of them.. they just want the answers pretty much. Next week we only have 4 days and Thursday is a half day. I actually probably dont have to even go Thursday since the two classes I would have to teach are in the afternoon and a half day only goes through 4th period. But I might go to the elementary christmas show since I wont have anything else to do. Thursday or Friday me and Meghan are going to help out a local church, or orphanage, or something like that since we dont have school.. still trying to figure out what we can do. Peter leaves tomorrow so were going out for dinner tonight with all the student teachers and some of their teachers. Katy leaves Thursday and I think Maggie leaves Saturday so by the end of this week everyone will be gone except me and Meghan... she's leaving the day we leave for Galapagos... which is coming soon! (27th)
This weekend me Peter and Meghan went to her host families farm in Santa Domingo.. its about 3 hours from Quito but we didnt have to take a bus luckily.. her mom drove us after school Friday. We just hung out Friday night and had a really good dinner.. we had a pork leg made in a clay oven heated by fire. Saturday we walked around the house which has some cocao plants on it along with macadamia nut trees, lemon trees, banana trees, plantaines, bamboo, and two huge tortoises. Theres a male and female and they are both galapagos tortoises. The male is massive! They're over a 100 years old and I think Meghans host dad's (Lars) father brought them there. It was originally his farm and then Lars and his brother took over. Where the house is is a large gated community and they sell lots for houses and are developing some more land for houses to go on. Its a really nice place. Across the road is where the actual farm is.. he had 200 acres.. most of which is filled with cocao trees. He doesnt make chocolate anymore, he just sells the seeds and sells some of the plants to Europe. We cut one pod open and there are probably 25 seeds inside. If you bite into them they are really bitter and nasty because the seed has to ferment which makes the chocolate taste. But they have a white film around them that you can suck on which is reallly sweet and sour.. its basically like candy and it was really good. We drove all over the farm.. he has a bamboo forest which he plans to cut and sell soon as well as some tree's from India that are going to make him a lot of money along with some white mahgoney trees. His dad baically just planted all sorts of different things and now they are worth a lot of money. He also has some other fruit trees and more macadamia nut trees.. we got to crack open the shell and eat the fresh nut which are delicious. The farm is beautiful though and really interesting.. its like driving through the jungle. Her family is really awesome to... they are pretty much my second host family. Lars has stories about everything because he had almost every job imaginable and traveled a lot. Cathy is a teacher at school and is really nice.. she will do about anything for us.. they are a lot of fun.
Two more weeks and I'll be home!