A few moments from Cuyabeno Wildlife Sanctuary
The river skips past as we careen around a corner in the motor canoe. Suddenly our guide jumps to his feet, calling “monkeys!” The driver cuts the engine and we drift toward the forested bank. In the sudden absence of the motor’s roar, I hear the chirping of crickets, the wailing call of hidden birds, and finally, a telltale rustling in the branches. We gasp and laugh to see the small monkeys fearlessly leap from tree to tree. A few clamber closer, and we watch in wonder as the creatures munch fruit and balance on branches. Too soon the monkeys become silhouettes in the distance as we float downstream.
In the darkness of night the jungle seems to hide countless mysteries. The air is dense and humid and our footsteps crunch through a thick layer of leaves. Our flashlights bring to light a fleeting impression of looming plate sized leaves, a tangle of vines swinging from an unseen branch, and a frantic parade of leaf cutter ants. Our guide calls us over to a dark tree trunk. His light illuminates a giant furry spider. We are told this might be the banana spider, one of the most dangerous creatures of the rainforest. A quick test disproves this theory. When faced with a waving stick the spider does not attack as expected. It is a peaceful spider.
The sun sets over the Laguna Grande through a sky streaked with rosy waves and ribbons of fiery red. The motor canoe bobs gently on the dark lake as I step up to stand on the gunnel. I leap into the sky’s scattered reflection and sink into the cloudy water until by feet brush soft mud. The lagoon is warm. I surface and float on my back, watching as the sky fades to a dreamy blue.