Andes to Amazon  
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    Dispatch 9 - Canelos


  Ecuador, Canelos, paved road

Before 2009, Canelos was as good as the wilderness.  A lot of the transportation in and out was by pack animal.  If the weather was dry enough for long enough for wheel drive vehicle to attempt the track that changed 500m of elevation in about 10 km  -- there is also about five kilometers that are relatively flat.  The road is now paved and a kick of a bicycle ride going down, if your brakes don't start smoking or your hands cramp.  In reverse it builds character -- but there are a couple buses a day that will help extricate you.

Ecuador, Canelos, rainforest
  Ecuador, Canelos, paved road The name Canelos (cinnamon or cinnamon tree) comes from the abundance of cinnamon trees in the area.  During the period of  European conquest cinnamon was exploited to take to the courts of Europe.

The road ends in Canolos.  There is a foot bridge across the Rio Bobonaza beyond Canelos, but there are only trails beyond that. 

Ecuador, Canelos, foot bridge across Rio Bobonaza
  Ecuador, Canelos, Huella Verde Rainforest Lodge

Ecuador, Canelos, Huella Verde Lodge, garden and forest

If you cross the foot bridge and follow the trails for a couple of kilometers you will arrive at understated Huella Verde Lodge, the more upscale of the two lodging choices in the area.

The view from the buildings at Huella Verde (there are only three: the main building with the kitchen, dining area and upper floor, open walled, cover terrace, and two guest cabins) is basically a green wall of vegetation. It is hard to define where the garden ends and the forest begins.Ecuador, Canelos, Rio Bobonaza

Down at the Rio Bobonaza is a swimming hole -- you can float as long as you want and nothing will nibble at you or take chunks out of you hide.

Ecuador, Canelos, Huella Verde Rainforest Lodge
  Ecuador, Canelos, Huella Verde Lodge, garden and forest Canelos is considered the oldest Pastaza Quichua community in the province of Pastaza. Some authorities believe the language moved into the area from the east or southeast, as opposed to north through the Andes during the Inca invasion.

It is also the oldest Catholic parish in eastern Ecuador. It was founded around 1560 when the first Catholic mission settled in the area. I try to imagine the isolation they must have felt.

Ecuador, Canelos area and Rio Bobonaza
  Ecuador, Canelos, traditional house The town now draws from several cultures and traditions.  On the afternoon that we arrived a girls soccer game was in progress.  Juxtaposed to this was a house utilizing traditional architecture and materials.  Though traditional architecture has is more economical and energy efficient in terms of sourcing the initial building materials and maintaining a reasonably comfortable environment, it is more labor intensive for maintenance, and if the population grew too much eventually the building materials wouldn't be sustainable.
Ecuador, Canelos, girls soccer game
  Besides offering lodging, Huella Verde is trying to be largely self-sufficient and sustainable.  A lot of the food served in the dining room is grown in the garden or sourced locally.  The grow a variety of vegetables, have citrus and other tropical fruit trees and can gather some of the spices they use.  There cocoa farm is producing well, but it depend upon the market price as to whether it is economical to harvest and transport it to the market.
  Ecuador, Canelos, demonstration of traditional construction technique One of the enriching opportunities at Huella Verde is the opportunity for a cultural tour.  It covered some of traditional construction techniques, material culture, indigenous agriculture and ethno botany.  It was interesting that some of the plants had very narrow and specific uses and some of the plants a very broad and diverse applications, for example; ranging from being an antiseptic to treating various female conditions. Ecuador, Canelos, educational forest walk
   Ecuador, Canelos, looking at a sap that can be for purposes ranging from being an antiseptic to treating various female conditions. Ecuador, Canelos, educational forest walk Ecuador, Canelos, educational forest walk  
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