ECUADOR 2001: mad in pursuit

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sunrise out our windowMonday, 4.23.01
Bellavista Cloudforest

Sunrise about 6 A.M. Stunning view out our window. To the right of the nearby tree is a shock of pink over the mountain. To the left we look down into a deep valley -- black peaks were emerging from the ocean of mist. I snap some photos. The rain has stopped for now, although the roof thatch still drips. The whirr of hummers' wings can be mistaken for distant thunder if you forget about them for a minute. The dome we live in is not a bit soundproof and already the voices of our fellow lodgers can be heard.

At 7:15 streaks of blue are breaking through the clouds.

The running water stopped last night after dinner -- hmmm... We managed okay. We had a pitcher of water and let whatever accumulate in the toilet, to the great attraction of moths and other delicate flying creatures, which I didn't even notice till I put my glasses on at daylight. Another earthy note: glad I brought lots of tampons with me or I'd really be a mess way out here.

Sleeping was good. The temperature was comfortable, with that nice treehouse feel. The bed was roomy but allowed for snuggling -- a luxury we'd been missing with our twin beds in Quito.

mosses and epiphytes9 - 11 A.M. Picked out some rubber "Wellington" boots from the boot closet and went walking uphill along the road and then to route [A] -- a rutted, muddy trail through a small cow pasture and into some dense second-growth jungle. The pasture hosted a black and white cow with a full udder, who stood up to get near her young calf, who was tethered by the foot under a makeshift canopy and suddenly agitated by our appearance.

The cloudforest here is characterized by its mosses and epiphytes (orchids, vines, and other parasites). The mists and mossy vines give the place a mystical, magical feel. The air, though heavily humid, stays cool, except when the sun breaks through and shines directly on us. Sounds: tweeting, chirping... in the distance more bellicose birds with 10-second calls... jungle cries across the valley.

The hike out from the lodge was mostly uphill and J took it slow. He wasn't wild about the mud trail -- the slipperiness made him unsteady. Few birds appear. Diego is not much of a guide: he can spot things but his English isn't up to explaining much beyond giving us the unintelligible Latin name. We nod and smile. He did spot some blue metallic scarab beetles that were something I'd never seen. Then there was the sangre del drago (blood of the dragon) tree. Diego slashed at this tree with his machete. The sap is bright red. He held up a tablespoon to gather drops along the gash. He couldn't have collected more than a spoonful, but he carefully transferred the drips to an empty jar. It's apparently one of those legendary rainforest remedies, good for treating cuts.

my treehouse nestAfter a fabulous lunch, we walked a bit down trail [F], after which I ensconced myself on the big bed in my treehouse, dozing, drinking wine, and absorbing myself in Julio Cortazar's long discourses on the absurdity of intellectual life.

Reason is only good to mummify reality in moments of calm or analyze its future storms, never to resolves a crisis of the moment...

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