Day 4 – Visit a local community

Today was our first full day at the Yarina lodge. Today, as with most days on the trip, we had breakfast at 7am. Following that, we got back on the motorized canoe and headed back up the Napo River a short way. We got off the boat and found that we were in a small grove of cacao and banana trees. We learned about the crops and then visited a local school. As it turned out, the teacher was not there that day, but one of the parents was watching the kids. We tried to help them learn reading and English, while we were getting a Spanish lesson.

After spending a couple of hours with the kids, we went to the home of a local family for lunch. We got to help cook! Here we prepared and ate palm weevil larvae. In my twisted mind, I decided I pretty much had to try it – to be a proper guest and, logically, if I will eat meat from higher life forms, I should do be able to do this too. (link for more about palm weevils.)

Before dinner, we hiked to a wooden observation tower. There we watched the sun set over the Napo River and did more birdwatching. After dinner, we watched the first half of “Fitzcarraldo” 1982, Werner Herzog (dir.) Very appropriate from a regional setting standpoint.

A view of the lodge
We had a porch and a hammock outside of our front door
Setting off in the morning
The boat landing at the Yarina Lodge
The Napo River
Cacao Tree
Cacao pod
Cocao beans
Seeing who can spit the farthest
A large snail
Interesting caterpillars
Annatto
Walking to the school
The students and substitute teacher (parent actually)
Learning the alphabet
School plaque
There was a house right behind the school.
Spanish/English lesson
Our student
Go gyroscope
Our gift
Such cute kids
Peter drew the picture of the ant.
School ended at ~noon.
A trail
Pretty flower from the banana plant
Pretty isn't it.
Larger view of the banana flower
Trees
Here is that big Kapok tree
Peter looking up at the big Kapok tree.
We saw many unusual flowers
More bananas
Bananas
Flower with grasshopper
Pretty flower with a bonus
A grasshopper.
Strange Fruit
Location of our home-hosted lunch
Another view
Another view of the home that we visited
Our greeting party for lunch
Fixing fish for lunch.
Our lunch cooking on the grill
Our lunch
Palm weevil larvae
Getting away
Palm weevil larvae
Peter getting ready to eat a grub
This really cute child really likes watermelon
Another picture
Very cute.
Jaime and Winter, relaxing with some watermelon
Peter shooting darts with a blow gun
View from the top
Peter at the top of the lookout.
A bug of some time.
Leaves in the jungle can have a rough life.

A view of the lodge

We got our meals here. Photo by Peter

We had a porch and a hammock outside of our front door

Peter, relaxing after breakfast. Photo by Cathy

Setting off in the morning

Here we are in our motorized canoe setting off for the morning's adventures. Photo by Peter

The boat landing at the Yarina Lodge

Photo by Peter

The Napo River

Photo by Peter

Cacao Tree

First we spotted this lone cacao pod, but soon we realized there were a number of cacao trees around us. Photo by Peter

Cacao pod

Jamie, one of our local guides picked and cut open this pod. We were encouraged to suck on the cocao beans. They had a faint cocao flavor, but tasted more like vanilla to me and they were a bit sweet. Photo by Peter

Cocao beans

After we all took some of the beans, this is what was left. Photo by Peter

Seeing who can spit the farthest

We had been sucking on a cocoa bean and we were then challenged to spit it out. As I recall the males were better at spitting - go figure. Photo by Cathy

A large snail

Photo by Cathy

Interesting caterpillars

I don't know if I have a chance of figuring this one out, but my research has sent me to some interesting places. For example, here is a site that asks "I Found a Caterpillar -- But What Will It Turn Into?" (link) Photo by Cathy

Annatto

I remember getting yogurt in the '80's that used Annatto as a coloring ingredient. Photo by Peter

Walking to the school

The school is the second building (in the background). Photo by Cathy

The students and substitute teacher (parent actually)

Photo by Cathy

Learning the alphabet

Photo by Peter

School plaque

Some day, I'll run this through a translator.

There was a house right behind the school.

Photo by Cathy

Spanish/English lesson

Photo by Cathy

Our student

Each couple was provided with a student to work with today. Photo by Cathy

Go gyroscope

Photo by Cathy

Our gift

OAT suggests that travelers bring a small gift for school and homes that we visit. Peter suggested a gyroscope. That seemed like a great idea...unfortunately it broke almost immediately. We'll get this gift thing figured out sooner or later.

Such cute kids

We arrived at the school to find out that the teacher took the day off and one of the parents needed to fill in. This picture was taken soon after we arrived and the kids were a bit more reserved. Photo by Peter.

Peter drew the picture of the ant.

Photo by Peter

School ended at ~noon.

Photo by Peter

A trail

After our school visit, we walked along this path to our home-hosted lunch. Photo by Cathy

Pretty flower from the banana plant

Pretty isn't it.

Photo by Cathy

Here are some notes from Wikipedia:

"Musa species are native to tropical Indomalaya and Australia, and are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea.[2][3] They are grown in at least 107 countries,[4] primarily for their fruit, and to a lesser extent to make fiber, banana wine and banana beer and as ornamental plants.

Worldwide, there is no sharp distinction between "bananas" and "plantains". Especially in the Americas and Europe, "banana" usually refers to soft, sweet, dessert bananas, particularly those of the Cavendish group, which are the main exports from banana-growing countries. By contrast, Musa cultivars with firmer, starchier fruit are called "plantains". In other regions, such as Southeast Asia, many more kinds of banana are grown and eaten, so the simple two-fold distinction is not useful and is not made in local languages."

So did you know that India grows the most bananas?
Production
India 29.7 20%
Uganda 11.1 8%
China 10.7 7%
Philippines 9.2 6%
Ecuador 8.0 6%
Brazil 7.3 5%
Indonesia 6.1 4%
Colombia 5.1 4%
Cameroon 4.8 3%
Tanzania 3.9 3%
All others 49.6 34%
Total world 145.4 100%

Larger view of the banana flower

Photo by Cathy

Trees

Here is the biggest tree in the area. The next picture will show it up close. We think it is a kapok tree. Photo by Peter

Here is that big Kapok tree

From Wiki (link):

Ceiba pentandra, "Kapok is the most used common name for the tree and may also refer to the cotton obtained from its seed pods. The tree is also known as the Java cotton, Java kapok, silk-cotton or ceiba."

"The tree grows to 60–70 m (200–230 ft) tall and has a very substantial trunk up to 3 m (10 ft) in diameter with buttresses. The trunk and many of the larger branches are often (but not always) crowded with very large, robust simple thorns. The leaves are compound of 5 to 9 leaflets, each up to 20 cm (8 in) and palm like. Adult trees produce several hundred 15 cm (6 in) seed pods. The pods contain seeds surrounded by a fluffy, yellowish fibre that is a mix of lignin and cellulose. One of the oldest known trees is 200 years old, and sits at Terrazas in Miami."

Photo by Cathy

Peter looking up at the big Kapok tree.

Notice the buttressed trunk. Photo by Cathy

We saw many unusual flowers

Photo by Cathy

More bananas

Photo by Cathy

Bananas

There are many types of bananas. These are likely better known as plantains. Photo by Cathy

Flower with grasshopper

Photo by Cathy

Pretty flower with a bonus

Photo by Cathy

A grasshopper.

Strange Fruit

Photo by Cathy

Location of our home-hosted lunch

Another view

Another view of the home that we visited

Our greeting party for lunch

Fixing fish for lunch.

I made several cuts into the raw fish and rubbed salt all over it and then wrapped it in a banana leaf. It was then roasted over hot coals with the rest of our meal.

Our lunch cooking on the grill

Our lunch

Palm weevil larvae

Some are trying to escape. I don't blame them. They are to become part of our lunch.

Getting away

Palm weevil larvae

Preparing the grubs for roasting.

Peter getting ready to eat a grub

This really cute child really likes watermelon

Another picture

Very cute.

Jaime and Winter, relaxing with some watermelon

Peter shooting darts with a blow gun

View from the top

After our afternoon siesta, we walked up a nearby hill and climbed a lookout tower.

Peter at the top of the lookout.

We were able to see a number of birds from this vantage point, including a local hawk.

A bug of some time.

Leaves in the jungle can have a rough life.

We saw many, many leaf-cutter ants. They are so industrious.

A view of the lodge thumbnail
We had a porch and a hammock outside of our front door thumbnail
Setting off in the morning thumbnail
The boat landing at the Yarina Lodge thumbnail
The Napo River thumbnail
Cacao Tree thumbnail
Cacao pod thumbnail
Cocao beans thumbnail
Seeing who can spit the farthest thumbnail
A large snail thumbnail
Interesting caterpillars thumbnail
Annatto thumbnail
Walking to the school thumbnail
The students and substitute teacher (parent actually) thumbnail
Learning the alphabet thumbnail
School plaque thumbnail
There was a house right behind the school. thumbnail
Spanish/English lesson thumbnail
Our student thumbnail
Go gyroscope thumbnail
Our gift thumbnail
Such cute kids thumbnail
Peter drew the picture of the ant. thumbnail
School ended at ~noon.   thumbnail
A trail thumbnail
Pretty flower from the banana plant thumbnail
Pretty isn't it. thumbnail
Larger view of the banana flower thumbnail
Trees thumbnail
Here is that big Kapok tree thumbnail
Peter looking up at the big Kapok tree. thumbnail
We saw many unusual flowers thumbnail
More bananas thumbnail
Bananas thumbnail
Flower with grasshopper thumbnail
Pretty flower with a bonus thumbnail
A grasshopper. thumbnail
Strange Fruit thumbnail
Location of our home-hosted lunch thumbnail
Another view thumbnail
Another view of the home that we visited thumbnail
Our greeting party for lunch thumbnail
Fixing fish for lunch. thumbnail
Our lunch cooking on the grill thumbnail
Our lunch thumbnail
Palm weevil larvae thumbnail
Getting away thumbnail
Palm weevil larvae thumbnail
Peter getting ready to eat a grub thumbnail
This really cute child really likes watermelon thumbnail
Another picture thumbnail
Very cute.   thumbnail
Jaime and Winter, relaxing with some watermelon thumbnail
Peter shooting darts with a blow gun thumbnail
View from the top thumbnail
Peter at the top of the lookout.   thumbnail
A bug of some time. thumbnail
Leaves in the jungle can have a rough life.   thumbnail