Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Day 5: Pretty things, hanging out in the trees and "jungle juice"

Monday dawned and it was the first time we had rain during the daytime hours. :( All through breakfast we thought it'd let up, but it never did. It wasn't a total downpour, but the rain was consistent enough that it forced our guide to postpone our morning excursion until the afternoon. Hmph.

Instead, another activity had been scheduled for us - local arts and crafts. I was excited, I think T-dogg was neutral and the boys... well, it was all they could do to keep from rolling their eyes. :/ However, by the end of the morning, Jim remarked what a great time he had and how much different it was than what he had expected.

A young woman from Chino Village was sent to us to serve as our instructor. Like most of the villagers, she spoke no English, but Anselmo was there the whole time to help translate for us. Several other lodge guests joined us in the hammock room for the morning, where we overtook a section of the space for our craft lesson.

The lady brought a huge bag of supplies that included various bags of beads and seeds from the jungle as well as multiple bundles of palm fibers that had been dried and dyed different colors. She put out a selection of necklaces and bracelets as examples and we were asked to choose a design that we'd like to copy and make for ourselves. I opted a simple bracelet, while T-dogg chose to replicate a beaded necklace. The boys primarily hung out in the rocking chairs and served as our "helpers."

To start the bracelet, our instructor first had to roll the fibers into thread that would be used to form the other section of the project. I wish I had taken video of this, as it was really cool. She basically rolled the fibers on her thigh in a certain way, so they became intertwined - the resulting thread was deceptively strong. This looked pretty painful, but we were told that women build up tolerance to it and become very quick at the practice. After starting the bracelet, she then showed me how to weave the beads into the pre-determined design. Between our hand signals and my limited spanish, communication was easy. Shortly thereafter T-dogg was started on her necklace.

The boys were eventually given jobs themselves. They helped us make holes in the beads and seeds so we could use them in the jewelry. Seeing the boys try to use the machine to accomplish this task was pure comedy!

While we were completing the projects, Anselmo talked to us more about the local culture and what life is like for the people that live in the jungle. The short version is that life is hard. But, his long descriptions were very interesting and I felt like we all learned a lot.

Our completed projects turned out well, but obviously not as well as the examples. We tipped our instructor to thank her for her time and materials and in return, we each received another bracelet or necklace from her collection of examples.

After lunch, the rain finally let up and we were back on-track for our zipline excurion. The course was behind the lodge, only a 10-15 minute canoe ride away. What we didn't know ahead of time was how bad the mosquito infestation was behind the lodge. OMG, it was awful! Easily the worst area (in terms of biting critters) of the trip. We basically spent the entire canoe ride out slapping away mosquitos. Blah!

We finally made it to the start of the course. After getting our gear on, Anselmo used the ascendors to climb the 80 feet to the platform and wait for the rest of us. For some reason, I was nominated to be the first to be pulled to the top. Yay? Actually, it wasn't that bad, almost fun, even though I'm usually nervous of heights. It probably wasn't great for the guy having to hoist me to the top though. Poor thing :/

We had a total of 6 people that needed to get to the top of the first platform, so I had a lot of time to wait around and look at the canopy. Oh, and lots of time to take pictures of everyone as they made it to the top.

Once you reached the top, you were connected to a rope attached to the tree. We kinda felt like animals all tied up there together. Ha!

One lady in the group was terrified of heights (why she chose to accompany us is beyond me) and about had a panic attack when she reached the first platform. And she stayed on the verge of completely flipping out the entire time. I was annoyed with her almost immediately.

There were only 2 ziplines we were able to use (the 3rd had a wasp's nest right next to it, so it was out of commission) and they were pretty short, so most of our time was spent on the platforms enjoying the view.

Jim is convinced that this was actually the dumbest activity that we participated in while in the jungle. None of us were completely sure how safe and sturdy everything was, even with assurances that the lines and platforms are inspected every year by a third party. Yeah, it probably wasn't our smartest move....

To get back to the ground, we had to rappel down. Yes, there was a safety rope that the guide could use to slow us down if we lost control, but it is still an interesting experience slide off a platform and just have your hands on a rope to keep you steady. The panick attack lady was really ready to lose it when she realized this. She even asked one of the guides if she could go down with him. He looked at her like she was crazy and just said "no, solo uno." Love him! ;)

I was a bit nervous to rappel down, but I kept my cool and just took my time getting down to the others. Being the last to go, I didn't realize just how slow I actually was. MoP videotaped everyone rappeling down and it easily took me 3-4x times as long as everyone else. We had the best laugh watching it later.
Since that was our last night at the lodge, no evening activity was scheduled so we would have time to pack and get ready to leave. When we got back to the lodge, I jumped in the shower, while Jim headed off to make sure we had lots of pictures of the lodge itself.

Right after I got out, I heard Jim outside telling me he had a surprise for me. You see, the lodge has a resident wild parrot, whom they call "Pedro" that usually hangs out around the kitchen area, eating fruit and nuts they hand-feed him. While Jim was walking around taking pictures, he stumbled upon him, got him on his shoulder and brought him over for me. I'm definitely my mother's daughter and picked up my love of birds from her, so I was ecstatic to finally meet Pedro.

We let him hang out on Jim for a bit and then when I extended my arm to him, he walked up and sat on my shoulder. While we were laughing at how funny he was, he actually laughed back at us! Ah, he is so cute!!

Before we knew it, it was time for our last dinner. To say thank you, the kitchen prepared a special cake for us, which we shared with the rest of the lodge guests, the guides and kitchen staff.

Since we didn't have an evening excursion, the 4 of us hung out in the dining hall after everyone left to play cards and relax before bed. Jim and MoP also used this opportunity to try "siete raises" (aka, seven root), a local beverage that is a mix of juice and a type of moonshine. Our favorite kitchen helper, who always seemed very amused by the boys and their antics, poured it out for them and wished them luck.

It actually smells much stronger than it tastes (both of us girls tried a sip), but later that night, Jim said that it packs much more of a punch than the taste implied. I think he was pretty tipsy by the time we went to bed. Ha!

7 comments:

Nanette said...

There's a BIRD....ON.....YOU! :/

Better you than me. It's ok. I suppose birds need love, too. ;)

dapotato said...

what nanette said!!!

Winnie said...

Ditto Nanners.

To be honest, I'd probably enjoy the crafting session . . . more than anything.

Kate said...

I'm terrified of heights. But when we did the zipline tour in Puerto Vallarta I was so annoyed by EVERYONE else on the tour that I forgot how scared I was and jetted from platform to platform just to get away from them.

wan-nabe said...

i would've wanted to kick that woman in the head.

the hub would most definitely have gone off to smoke a cigar and/or take a nap rather than do any kind of arts and crafts :X

the zipline looked like so much fun!

the cake was so cute :)

Leslie said...

Love those first two pics! So moody and beautiful.

Love the bird too. :)

R said...

Wow. I think I would have been super scared (on the inside) of the zip line part. Heights frighten me.

Oh man, the trip is coming to an end.