Friday, August 12, 2011

August 12 - Day 7 My Daddys Birthday!!!!

Happy Birthday to my daddy Paul Whitlock
Today we will leave the Waorani territory and travel to Napo.  This morning we boarded after breakfast we boarded our canoe, but this morning we are lucky to have a motorized canoe.  But still it is difficult to sit still in the boat, working our core muscles out again!  We continue downstream emerging from the primary forest of Huaorani territory into the world of settlers and oil companies (although it all used to be Huaorani territory). At the point where a road built by oil companies in the early 1990s crosses the river, we leave the forest and head to “civilization”.  The symbols of modern deforestation are the roads. They provide access and means for human populations to grow at a rapid rate, which affects indigenous peoples by displacing them from the best and most accessible agricultural soils (which aren’t particularly well-suited to begin with); reducing territory available for hunting and gathering; and encouraging them via settler example and government policy to increase their reliance on agriculture and timber extraction and to convert their land from communal resource.  Here, we witness the crude reality of our collective thirst for oil as we ride alongside the miles of pipelines, which go from the Huaorani community of Tihuino to Lago Agrio, the oil hub of el Oriente, to be pumped across the Andes to the port of Esmeraldas and then onto a gas station near you. This brief journey through oil territory illustrates the reality of the threat facing the rainforest and the Huaorani people.  After a 2 ½ hour ride, we have reached the banks of the Rio Napo and the town of Coca where we meet with our representatives from Napo Wildlife Center and guess what – our luggage too!!!!!  Yes we did change clothes in the bathroom before we board the boat to Napo.  We waited a bit for our boat to take up to Napo Wildlife Center, after several hours they did show up and we boarded another motorized canoe to travel about 2 hours.  We were able to see a beautiful sunset on the river.  Upon arriving at the entrance to the Napo Wildlife Center Reserve, we switch to smaller, dugout canoes and are paddled up the blackwater creek to the lake and lodge (no motorized transport is allowed on the creek or lake so that wildlife isn't disturbed).  The moon lit our way through the creek to the lodge as well as the fireflies and the glow worms in the creek.  When we got closer to the lodge we were able to spot the red eyes of the caimans.  We arrived about and went right to the dining room for dinner.  Had a terrific dinner and there was a gentleman from the Ecuador version of the Miami Herald and we spoke with him for a few minutes before going to bed!   The Napo Wildlife Center is a luxury eco-hotel in Amazonian Ecuador. This ecotourism project includes the conservation of approximately over 82 square miles of the most pristine Amazon Rain Forest within the Yasuní National Park, an important UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the largest tract of tropical rain forest in Ecuador.  The lodge complex is located by the Anangucocha Lake, within the unique ancestral territory of the Anangu Quichua Community, part of the Yasuní National Park. In the early 90’ the community envisioned building their own lodge to provide themselves jobs and protecting their land.

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