As the saying goes “you have to break some eggs to make an omelet”, well, we were forced to endure an extended exposure with millennial backpackers for our long bus ride through the night. Being, on average, 20-years older than everyone else on the bus created a strange but palatable separation; we were bumped into, talked over, stepped on but never acknowledged or talked to by the boisterous and self-absorbed youth. Us old people are as interesting as a parked car and we happily used our invisibility to observe the next generation and gloat at how awesome having our own transportation is. Tourist buses suck but in this case it was well worth the sardine slog through the night.
We were weaned on shows like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and the Amazon jungle is the stuff of our childhood legends: piranahas, headhunters, deadly animals at every turn, and vastness beyond comprehension. Of course we had to see this for ourselves. We stored the bikes in Quito and booked ourselves a four-day, three-night excursion into the remote region of Cuyabeno.
After an all-night bus ride, a dawn transfer to a van for another two-hour ride to the end of the road, and finally a two-hour journey by motorized canoe, we were transported deep into the jungle. Oh what a fantastic trip. We saw so much wildlife including anacondas, pink fresh-water dolphins, sloths, and monkeys that it felt like this whole show must be staged. It was everything we had ever heard about the Amazon.
Our days were spent either hiking for hours through the jungle with our local guide, Neisser, or cruising in our canoe through the maze of channels and waterways that comprise the Amazon River network. If I were a rich man I would have stayed for a month but adventures like this come at a cost and $300 per person was all the travel budget would allow. It was worth every penny.
Surprisingly, there were few mosquitos (despite the four bottles of varying types of repellant that Shannon packed and we are still carrying) and the air temperature was comfortable albeit very rainy. Strangely, while we never saw biting bugs by the end of four days Mike had collected scabby bites all over his body. These Amazon welts itched like hell for the next week or so but even this was too fucking cool to Mike because WE WENT TO THE AMAZON.