The only thing I wanted to do in Ecuador was go to the Amazon and see the damage oil companies have inflicted on the indigenous people there. It’s a long-running court case dating back decades and, in my opinion, serves as a perfect microcosm of how our lack of balance in life and in nature has huge, disastrous consequences.
On the evening of March 4th I caught the night bus from Quito at 11pm and arrived in Lago Agrio at 7am. I called my contact and, as I suspected would happen, there was “a problem.”
He told me that if I wanted to go today I’d have to pay $70 to rent a truck. The French documentary crew I was supposed to accompany would be arriving at 9am by plane though. So there was still a chance I could accompany them (for free) into the Amazon after they arrive. He said he’d call me back after he finds out what is going on.
He called me back in the afternoon to say they might go tomorrow. Normally I can be flexible, but I had two things lined up after Lago Agrio, the first of which was to be the following day. So I made up my mind to move on and cut my losses – reinforced by the fact that he still wasn’t sure if they’d go the following day.
Upon arrival I found out my only option to go to Baños from Lago Agrio is a night bus or going back to Quito (seven hours) and then catching a bus from there (four hours). So I caught the night bus for the second night in a row.
The idea of respect for other people has been on my mind for a while since Latin America keeps sending me mixed messages. This incident prompted me to finally write out my feelings about this, which will come out in a future post.
My day in Lago Agrio consisted of eating three meals at local restaurants, going to two internet cafes to check my email and finish organizing things for Baños, and relaxing in my dirty $6/night hotel with no water since I couldn’t obtain free accommodations via my normal methods.
Apparently Lago Agrio is a bit dangerous given its proximity to the Colombian border and the drug trafficking that takes place. Walking in the city was eerie. It was a Monday, but about half the companies and shops were closed. Why? I didn’t get an explanation.
It was pretty hot as well. The temperature wasn’t too high, but it was very humid and sticky. In the morning it rained pretty hard.
I discovered a new fruit in Lago Agrio, though I forgot what it’s called. It looks like a green bean on steroids. But it’s totally different. You open it up to find seeds that resemble rabbit feet. But you put the rabbit foot in your mouth, suck off the hair, and then spit out the seed. Below you can see the fruit and what it looks like. I didn’t like it very much, but it was edible.
The coolest thing I saw in Lago Agrio was this park full of Flinstones stuff. Cool!
Otherwise, that was my experience in Lago Agrio, which means sour lake by the way. Sour indeed. Despite being robbed twice in Latin America and having to overcome many cultural and linguistic issues, this incident really bothered me and for the first time I really started to look forward to the Asian leg of The Happy Nomad Tour. No doubt, there will be other issues there. But after seven months in Latin America, I’m looking forward to a change.