Tena

Our original plan was to head back to Quito and spend a night there before we fly to Lima but we really didn't like Quito that much, didn't have accommodations there and liked the Jungle so we decided to just take the bus in to Tena and camp out there for the night and go to Quito the day we needed to fly.img_0175 Normally I'd never risk traveling on a bus the same day our plane flight but we weren't scheduled to fly out of Quito until 8:30 and it only took 5 hrs by bus from Tena leaving us plenty of time. One of the Kishwa men took us via canoe to Puerto Barantilla so we could catch our bus. I took a video of the entire boat ride so we could remember it.
Thankfully it wasn't raining at all. The bus came about 5 minutes early which never happens at home. That also means you need to be at the bus stop earlier than you think as the schedules are more of a guideline than any sort of structure to follow. I've heard stories about these buses being overly crowded but Andy said we wouldn't have a problem today. We boarded, paid our $6 for all and found a place to stand (thanks Andy). There were no seats empty but the money taker motioned to Mo to sit up front with the driver. We stopped at many more stops
and picked up people.

At one stop there were about 10 backpackers waiting to go to Tena and they actually climbed up a ladder and rode on the roof! Just for my own amusement I counted the seats of the bus and theimg_0169 people that got on and came up with the bus capacity was 36 people and we had almost 60 on it. It seems like they could just run more buses since from what I've heard they're all crowded like this. The road we were on was basically a one lane dirt road with an occasional patch of pavement. At one point another bus was coming the other way and both came to a screeching halt. Neither wanted to give up and back up until there was room to pass but we got lucky and a cement truck came along behind us giving us the superiority and the other bus had to back up slowly until we could manage to squeeze by.

Tena is a small town but the capital of the province of Napo. It's about 16,000 people and probably the most tourist friendly that we've seen in all Ecuador because of the jungle tours there. We found a Hostel that Andy recommended called the Welcome Break. Price was $8 per person per night. We dropped our bags and headed out to find food. There aren't a lot of restaurants there but we found on that looked friendly and clean called Lucy's. One thing I've learned is when you're in another country and you don't speak the language you always go somewhere that has combo meals or a menu where you can just point to the number or item to order. That way you don't have to converse too much. Lucy didn't have a menu so we had no idea what to order. Finally I said “Pollo, bien” and in one img_0173fell swoop we all ordered chicken cooked in some mysterious way since we couldn't even tell them how we wanted it. A bit later four plates of chicken with fries showed up and we ate. Bellies full we headed for an Internet access point to tell the world we'd survived the jungle since nobody had heard from us in several days. The one across the street looked good even though it wasn't in my guidebook. After spending 15 minutes waiting to get gmail to come up and another 15 trying to reply to one email I got frustrated and told Mo we were going to find another. She attempted to save her extra long email only to loose it because it never really sent. Following the Let's Go guide we crossed the river and went to the Internet point that they recommended. I don't know why I even mess with things that aren't in our guidebook because I just waste time. This one was as fast as being at home and was air conditioned as well. Next emergency on the list was our clothes. img_0171We hadn't been able to wash for 3 days and it was time and in addition to that we needed to get bus tickets for the following day to Quito so we headed across the river again to the bus station. On the way we found a laundry and she spoke about 20 English words and said we could have our laundry at 9 in morning. With only one thing left to do we headed for the bus station. Bus stations in Ecuador are the dirtiest places on earth I think so if you don't know where it is just look for the scum. Anyway things are also different here than in the states too as there are many bus companies and many people selling tickets. Entering a bus station here is like walking through a street market in Mexico City. The sellers are announcing there prices and practically attacking you in an attempt to get you to buy from them. We decided to use the company we'd come over with so I wrote down the date, time, how many people and gave it to the lady. She wrote down “night” in Spanish because the time I'd picked was 12:00 and we had to say no. I didn't know the word for morning although I can recognize it if I hear it. I've also learned that a word that sounds like amay is A.M. so I can use that. Our only two choices for tickets was at 8:30 am and 1:30 pm. Technically the latter bus would get us there on time but considering that I was breaking one of my own rules about never traveling on the day that I had a plane flight I figured we'd better go for the earlier one, problem was our laundry wasn't going to be done until after our bus left. I chose the earlier one anyway. The tickets cost $24 for 4 people. The rest of the night we spent just wandering the streets of Tena until dinner where we ate at a Let's Go recommended place overlooking the river. It was decent and I ate a Tilapia that looked like it had just been pulled from the river and slapped on my plate. It wasn't too bad but left me hungry. Since we were still on the edge of the Amazon it was hot and muggy so sleeping was interesting.

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