The next morning we were up and into the smaller paddle canoe before 7 am. The bugs from the night before were long gone. We were looking for monkeys but though we could hear them jumping in the trees, we couldn’t see them. A little after 8 am we headed back to the lodge for breakfast. It was just us at the lodge but 3 other guests would be joining us later that day. After breakfast Paula told us we would be hiking in the forest for about 4 to 5 hours. Was she serious? She was. Claudio joined us on the hike. There was so much to see and hear. The jungle was alive with bird sounds. Later in the trip, as we became more acclimated with the jungle, we could tell where we were by the sounds; if we could hear the birds we were close to the water, if the jungle was quieter we were more inland. Paula and Claudio were both great about taking time to point out animals and medicinal plants. The Chicklet tree was a favorite. The Chicklet tree produces a white sweet milky sap that tastes a little like marshmallows. The sap is used as a medicine for upset stomach and also used as a sweetner in Chicklet gum. It was a nice treat in the middle of our hike. The kids really had a great time, swinging on the vines, and putting Bird of Paradise flowers on their nose to look like Toucans. As Paula was talking to us, Claudio was cutting something off a tree trunk. He came back with these huge sharp thorns, at least 3 or 4 inches tall, and stuck them on Tessa’s forehead. They made great devil horns! Because Claudio didn’t speak English, Paula translated for him. Later she let him speak in his native language. Of course we don’t speak Quichuan, but by really staying present moment, really listening and watching his body language, we understood most of what he was saying. We were pretty proud of ourselves! The hike was long but fascinating. The jungle contained so many important medicinal plants as well as giant spiders and ferocious ants. We are very close to Yasuni National Park which in January scientists documented “shatters world records for a wide variety of plant and animal groups from amphibians to trees to insects”. And here we were, like something out of a National Geographic special. As we walked along, I kept saying to myself, ” We are actually in the Amazon! We brought our children to the Amazon.” I try never to forget what an amazing path our life was following. After lunch, we again boarded the paddle canoe with Claudio and Paula and headed away from the main part of the river and into the smaller, narrower branches of the river. With the smaller canoe, we were able to slip quietly into harder to reach areas to look for wildlife. We still hadn’t sighted monkeys, but we did spot a rare sight, an owl high in the trees. Claudio was great at finding wildlife. He had a repertoire of animal sounds he would use. Most of the animals seemed to answer him back. We didn’t return to the lodge until close to dinnertime. The other guests, Maria from California, Camilla from England and Sarah from the US were waiting for us. We gave them some tips on how to prepare their cabins against the bugs. After dinner, we decided to enjoy the hammocks and play games with the kids instead of doing the night hike. We heard some screams from the jungle and decided we didn’t miss anything. There was no electricity in the main dining area, so pretty much after the night walk, everyone headed to bed. As Maria and Camilla entered their cabin, we heard what would become the nightly scream, as one of them found some animal in their room, a giant spider, a huge frog, the worlds biggest cockroach. It became our nightly entertainment.