Today we went to the island where the Quichua people live. Their houses are built on stilts img_0079about 6 feet off the ground. Chickens run loose and there are things growing in the ground. On the island are plantain and corn plantations. It was neat to see bananas growing on trees and of course we'd seen corn before. We also saw and ate fruit that I can't pronounce nor did I recognize. We saw mangoes and papaya trees and yuka plants. The rain started again as we were trudging through the banana plantation but it was ok because the wide leaves make great cover form rain. After the walks through the plantations we returned to a Quichua family home.

Our guide was Quichua and didn't speak English so I'm sure I didn't understand a lot of what she was trying to tell us. Like I said the img_0094houses were elevated above the ground. I was going to ask our guide why but forgot. The floor was made of rough wooden slats, the roof was thatched and there were no windows or even screens. There were no doors inside the house and only a half door where the stairs to the ground was. A Quichua woman came out with a large boat looking thing that served as a mortar and she squashed yuca in it and added a liquid (more than likely saliva to help ferment the drink). She then disappeared for a moment and reappeared with a wooden cup of the finished product which we passed around and drank. This was called Chicha which Quichua drink with every meal. After the Chicha we proceeded outside to practice our skills with a blowgun. The target was a bird made of balsa wood. Our guide put a dartimg_0084 made from palm tree with a ball of cotton wrapped around it into the blowgun and nailed the target first time out. I tried and shot low a few times. Jade also got close but didn't make it. Natalya thought the blowgun was too heavy but tried once. That finished our tour and we and the Quichua people parted ways. Lunch was a tuna pate with fried plantains, and tomato salad. Dessert was one of the fruits that we'd eaten on the excursion but still can't remember the name of. The sun has been out almost all day and short of the frequent rain it has been beautiful. After lunch we decided to squeeze in one more thing before we say goodbye tomorrow. We went up river in the canoe with Lucia our Quichua guide and another Quichua man. On the way we stopped off to pick up 7 logs for a raft. Our goal was to build a raft and float down the Napo river and hopefully get off at the lodge before we end up in the Amazon and later the Atlantic. Lucia has been our guide for three excursions and I'd like to take a moment to describe her and the Quichua people in general. They all seem very quite and reserved but have a great sense of humor. I've caught Lucia laughing several times and she's broken into a definite smile many times while we were doing something ridiculous. She's about as tall as Jade (under 5 foot) and quite attractive. She's as strong as an ox but delicate at the same time. Hard to explain I know. Anyway she's put up with us non-Spanish speaking people quite nicely and probably deserves a medal for it. When we stopped on the river to pick up the logs img_0077she did her share of carrying them down the hill and putting them in the boat. I'm guessing they were balsa but still they were much larger than her and she did just fine. When it came time to tie them together it was Lucia that did the man handling of the rope. After the raft logs were tied together we all climbed aboard and Lucia stood at the back with a large double sided paddle and steered it through the rapids. It was very exciting and Lucia had a large smile on her face as we whooped and hollered our way down the river Napo. I think she's a beautiful girl with a great personality. As a whole all of the Quichua people have been great to us and very patient since we don't speak either of their two languages. After the ride we stopped our raft on the river bank to return the logs we'd borrowed and the canoe had just caught up to us and had picked up a family along the way. Just earlier in the day when Lucia took us to the Quichua family's house we saw them do their own version of the handshake where they put out their hands like they are going to grasp the other but they only touch their palms together. The family that our canoe had picked up got off the boat where we were dropping the logs and the little boy held out his hand to Mo and touched her palm and I thought she was going to melt. It was such a sweet gesture. You never know whether you're invading another cultures space or you are welcome until something like that happens. We returned to the lodge and the rest of the evening was spent laying in the hammocks and trying not to think our departure the following day. I'm afraid we've fallen in love with this land and it's people. What a wonderful life they have and how dare us to judge them for it.