Subject: Re: Ecuador
Ruth Marie:

The week I spent on the Agua Rica, a tributary of the Amazon on the Ecuador side of the border, was exciting & challenging. The bird life is varied altho shy, but as an experienced birder, I'm sure you'd have seen many more than I did. There are monkeys, including the rare yellow-handed monkeys, as well as all the other fauna you encounter in the rainforest. This trip was my second trip to Ecuador, the first having focused on Quito & the highlands. The high altitude didn't bother me that much, but I suggest doing some high altitude walking before you go to make sure it isn't an issue. The change from Quito to the Amazon basin is about 6500 feet!

The challenging parts of the trip for me were the sometimes scary military situation & the health issues. The bus that took me to the camp area on the river was stopped when a guerilla band suddenly materialized out of the jungle & came aboard, looking for who-knows-what. I must not have looked very promising, & I speak enough Spanish to get myself in & out of trouble, so they drifted back into the mist. The next year, 5 American geologists were captured & held hostage in that same area. Malaria is a consideration & I took meflaquin as a prophilactic. We've had discussions about this drug, but be aware that it can induce incredible, lurid, technicolor dreams for weeks! Insect bites are a common event & some of the little rascals are so tiny you don't realize you've been bitten till you look down at your legs & see them running with streaks of blood.

But, bugs, blood, dreams & all, I'd go again. Drifting down that glorious river, surrounded by that dreaming rainforest, sleeping under netting in hammocks, sitting quietly on a log till the wildlife wakes up again around you & goes about its mysterious life, catching piranhas for the dinner menu...

Two days after I returned, I had a permit to climb Mt St Helens, & against good sense, I did it. You take meflaquin for 3 or 4 weeks after returning, so the dreams are still roaring thru your head. I guess the combo of high altitude again, post-trip fatigue & the drug put me into a hallucinatory state. What a climb! I didn't make it all the way to the top, but had to drop out at about 8000 feet. My family says I was pretty spacy, but it made a wow of a climb!

Gail In Eugene but never for long