The Last Day

We got settled into a new room, #12, a small quiet space in the back of the building. When the question of dinner arose, we walked over to Julie and Christina’s hotel, The Grand Hotel Mercure (casino and all) and together we walked several blocks and ate at The Magic Bean which has some very good vegetarian offerings.

There we ran into these people who had been with Daniel in the rainforest while we were there. Walking back to the hotel we saw workers going round the clock turning one of the main streets into a stone paved wide thoroughfare with side sidewalks. We settled into a long night of sleeping, knowing the next night would be spent high in the sky heading back to the north. Charlotte just read this last part and said, “kind of boring”. I asked her should I mention another tour group who had met some Columbian drug dealers and partied until 5 in the morning? No. Better not.

After breakfast we got to the internet and saw Lynne had written something for our fundraising appeal so we put it all together and sent it to 140 of our best Conscious Living Project supporters. You can read it here. The Achuar Education Fundraising Letter. We took a nap and got packed up. Before noon Charlotte found we could pay for half a day which would really help out since we won’t head for the airport until 7pm. All the power went out in the late morning. The whole city was effected. Turns out it hasn’t been raining as much as usual and the hydro-electric reservoirs are low. So they do this regularly. In the afternoon we went to an indigenous market and bought gifts for friends and family. We went to a large park but there was not much going on. We saw a big gathering and went to check it out. It was a volleyball game and the couple hundred spectators were 100% male. Strange. We came across what we think is the tourism university that we are trying to raise money for the Achuar students to attend.

Right next to it was a building that looked like it had dropped down from a very different place on the planet.

For lunch we had the potatoes Charlotte didn’t finish the night before. We checked our email again and had gotten two responses to our fundraising letter including $100 from my uncle.

At around 5 we went out for dinner with a list of restaurants that might have good vegetarian choices. We didn’t find any on our list, but just as we were about to head back, we spotted this weird place and decided to give it a try.

What does that say? Wolf’s Head, I think.

It was pretty neat. We sat in a glass enclosed porch and enjoyed some exotic dishes with cool jazz music.

We found it really interesting to watch all the people that passed by. Charlotte spotted a woman trying to carry a really big load!

After we ordered a dessert we realized it was already 6:30pm and we needed to catch our ride to the airport at 7pm. We tried to pay our bill early but they didn’t put the tip on it so they had to redo it. The place looked quite different at night.

We left at 6:50 and made a mad dash about 10 blocks back. Got our stuff out of the room, paid our bill and jumped in the waiting cab. Our driver made several clever shortcuts as the traffic was horrible. At the airport there was nothing but confusion. Getting past the guard, getting our luggage checked, getting boarding passes, paying the exit tax… Stop right there. It turned out we did put enough money back to cover the exit tax – with about $5 to spare. But when they put the stamps on the boarding passes, they put one set of stamps on the wrong ticket. We got through immigration, then past another security check point. They had a glass container with all the stuff they confiscated.

It was full of knives, guns, scissors, and other weird sharp stuff. Take a close look!

One more security check and we were in the lobby waiting to board. More confusion trying to board because of the misplaced exit fee stamps and then more confusion on the plane when they collected boarding passes – for the same reason. There was one mystery we will never know the answer to. Somehow we got upgraded to first class. Not in seats next to each other. But a fellow was kind enough to switch so Charlotte and I could sit together. So off we went to Atlanta. No, just kidding. We’re heading to Guayaquil, a city on the Ecuador coast. We get there in an hour. We all have to get off the plane and here we go again with security, boarding pass confusion and more security. Charlotte goes to get something to drink and comes back with a 60 cent coke that actually costs $2 in the airport. We finally make it back to the plane. While getting to our seats there is a trail of $1 bills that no one will claim. Weird. We wait to see if we can again trade seats and get to sit next to each other and an older lady agrees to the switch. They announce the flight will be about 5 hours and 6 minutes. Planes are so strange. You step into them in one culture, one language, one climate and when you step out again a short while later you can find yourself anywhere, in any culture, surrounded by any language. Human history has never had a tool that does this. So Hasta La Vista Antiqua Realidad!

We just filled out our custom papers for entering the US. Everyone is asked if they are bringing any animals. Of course the assumption is that we ourselves are not animals. That is not what we learned living with the Achuar. Not only are we clearly an animal, we aren’t necessarily at the top of the food chain either. Imagine yourself naked in the middle of a jungle. An equally naked mature and hungry jaguar approaches. Who has the upper hand? If you pick yourself, you may be deep in la-la land. We checked no. We are not bringing in animals. I feel certain they won’t notice and we’ll get past customs just fine. We crossed over Cuba and it was a clear night coming all the way up the Florida western coast. It is amazing how electrified the planet is. We’re about done with this journaling. We’ve gone through all the security and immigration in Atlanta and are waiting to board our plane to Jackson. I sat down where I could watch CNN and after a few minutes I had to move away. Every story and every ad felt like a slick production to distract and disorient. There is a reason they call it programming! Back to breathing. I’m thinking that when we get to the house I want to get back in the trees out back and just feel and listen. Charlotte reminded me that we did have a scary moment somewhere over Central America. The plane started shaking and then dropped very suddenly. Nearly everyone screamed.

I went on this trip to deepen my connection to the natural world. It happened. Now, surrounded by the modern, plastic, temperature controlled, polluted, artificially lit, electric, square world I just feel more alien to it. I’m going to have to pick my environments more carefully. The Achuar believe the world is as you dream it. Let’s dream a beautiful, sustainable, loving, supportive world!

 

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