14 marzo 2007

Benancio Grifo

After leaving Monkey Paradise (thinking that life in the jungle couldn’t get any better) we found ourselves traveling deeper into the Amazon region until we hit the Río Misahaulli. To get to our next destination we had to ford the river in a dugout canoe. We didn’t know what to expect about our next stop—I mean, what could a place possibly like that was only reachable by boat and located in an Ecuadorian jungle? Then we turned the bend in the river and saw it…La Casa del Suizo. An amazing sight even if you were traveling down Interstate 64. But just imagine seeing this place when you’re in the jungle—truly amazing.

We were greeted by a number of the local staff members and eventually taken to our room that overlooked the river and the jungle. We had a hammock which I promptly tried out. For lunch (and every meal after that) we had a huge all-you-can-eat buffet of salads, meats, fruits, breads, desserts and exotic juices. After lunch that first day we went on our first jungle excursion.

The man that was our guide was possibly one of the best things about our entire trip. I think I can speak for my parents also and say that we were all incredibly blessed to know Benancio Grifo.

Benancio was all smiles all the time, not in a fake I-have-to-smile-it’s-my-job kind of way, but more in a wise and time worn I-am-grateful-for-my-life-and-am-honored-to-know-you way. So the first day he took us to a spot on the river where he could pan for gold. He got some gold dust and then taught my dad how to do it.

After that we started hiking through the jungle. Benancio, who used to be a shaman, knew every plant and what its medicinal purpose was. It was so incredible to see how God has put cures for everything from bad breath to headaches to ulcers and more right there in the jungle. The pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t like it one bit. Wow was it amazing.

Aside from plants used for medicine there was also a plant used for paint (which you can see displayed here) and a plant that had ants living in it that tasted like lemon. How do I know that? Yep I have eaten a lemon ant. Not to bad…We also had the freshest hearts of palm you can get and saw coca plants, pineapple, papaya and the plants used to make Panama (actually Ecuador) hats.

Here is a woman that we passed on the hike who was washing her clothes in the river.

The conclusion of the jungle hike brought us to a butterfly house where there were thousands of native butterflies filling the air. They would land on the pieces of little banana that were set out and eat the sugar from them. That was the first day.

The second day we took another jungle hike but we went a little deeper. Benancio was quite the jokester and he found a plant that looked like big red lips and put them on each of us. My dad was by far the funniest.
At the end of that hike Benancio took us to his home—a two room wooden shelter on stilts. We met his wife, children and grandchildren. After watching his wife cook with yucca and another typical plant, Benancio performed a shaman ceremony which was supposed to rid the person of all evil spirits. That experience was very humbling. To be in his house first of all was very special, and second to see him at work, doing something that was so important to his life was beautiful.
Nothing could top that experience except maybe floating home on a balsa wood raft. Which we did. My parents and I can now say that we have floated on a hand-made raft down a river that feeds into the Amazon. Hard to believe. And that brings to an end our jungle adventure. Next up: my favorite town in Ecuador.


Anonymous mom said...

Ahhh, Benancio!! You're right Miranda--what a blessing to have known such a simple, wise man. Sometimes,back here in the USA I think about him and can hardly believe there is really a place like the Ecuadorian jungle that exists, when my world is so different. Even with all of our conveniences, I'm not sure who is more blessed, Benancio in his simple world or us!!

5:43 p. m.  
Anonymous Your papa said...

I can't believe you included the picture of me with the big red lips! My reputation for being a quiet and reserved man will be ruined. Wow - what a great trip and thanks for being such a super travel agent and tour guide. Your excellent Spanish was so helpful. I love you sweet kid.

10:38 p. m.  
Anonymous Anónimo said...

Hey, i have so enjoyed reading and looking at the wonderful trip you guys took. But i have to tell you, I haven't laughed so hard in quite awhile when i saw the picture of Mike. That was great.Thank you so much for sharing. I think about you everyday and pray for you continually. I love you Miranda!!! Love, your cousin, Sunny

8:29 a. m.  
Anonymous Anónimo said...

Hi sweets! I've seen all the pic's at your folks but I love your commentary! Wish I'd been there! Kiss, Kiss!

10:50 a. m.  
Blogger Becky said...

So cool! I'm amazed more and more by everything you have done!!!

10:27 p. m.  
Anonymous Anónimo said...

What an adventure you're on! I'm so glad your mom and dad got to come down to see you and experience what you're experiencing. We're praying for you up here in MN.
The Chenoweths

9:51 p. m.  
Anonymous Anónimo said...

Thanks Miranda, for sharing all your pictures and comments with us in Texas! My printer is down right now, but as soon as I can, I will print out your blog for Laddie and then send them on to his sister, Joyce (in St. Louis). She also loves reading about your adventures! We ESPECIALLY loved the picture of Mike with the "ruby-red-lips"!!!! Sure changed his looks, didn't it?!!!!! We love you Mike..."with" or "without" the puffy lips!!
Lou & Laddie Stevens

9:39 a. m.  
Blogger Tiffany said...

Great pictures, Miranda! I had a snake handling adventure too-in the jungles south of Saigon in Vietnam. I love what your mom said: I think they have it better, those who have far less, are grateful for it, and don't know life otherwise. Live it up, because I tell you, husbands and babies really tie you down! ;)

12:46 p. m.  

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