13. Ecuador Adventures and Frogs – Anaconda Part II

A monkey in a tree near Anaconda Island

Tuesday, June 13th, Painted Faces

Our morning trip was by motorized canoe to the primary forest on the mainland opposite Anaconda Island. The equally wonderful Cesar at Anaconda Lodge is counterpart to Walter at Suchipakari. He too says he is the son of a medicine man.

Cesar, an expert in medicinal and other uses of plants, showed us how to make the face paint by stirring these seeds. He painted some of our faces, and invited us to do the same.





First, our fearless leaders, Chelsea and                                                                         

Michael,     then Brian      Melissa and Jennifer      Victor


      Cesar painting Stephanie. and in the background, Gennaro Sposato, a Guide at Anaconda Lodge, whose face I painted myself. 

                                                          Cesar called Stephanie the Queen of the Jungle.
He said that we would do our best to fight for her, but if we got into trouble, she would need to be sacrificed. She seems confident that he will successfully protect her.

And so we set off on our hike. We had seen Wooly and Capuchin monkeys on the shores of the mainland from a distance as we came up to the landing.  Francisco said monkeys don’t live on the island because they are afraid of water.  Curious though, they followed us most of the way when we started up the hill.
As I was being pulled and pushed up the steep incline, with pretty high steps, I asked Cesar to cut a walking stick for me. He chose a bamboo plant with a stalk which was just the right height, thickness and weight. Jennifer had given me the idea, having brought a pair of collapsible Black Diamond trekking sticks, and I had picked up an abandoned stalk in Suchipakari. My new staff was my pride and joy, and worth more to me than anything I could buy.

Cesar had much more to teach us. Among other firsts, such as recognizing the need for environmental protection and legislating accordingly, apparently Ecuador was one of the earliest sources of rubber tree latex that was turned into plastic.

Here are some of the native trees and plants that he told us about, but as my notes were sparse and I couldn’t keep up,

The Sangre de Drago (Croton Lechleri) tree,  yields a red sap if cut.

Sangre de Drago has been in use long before the Conquistadores, and is widely marketed under that name. Besides being used as a liquid bandage for wound-healing, and as an antioxidant, like a natural Neosporin, it can be used in a very diluted form for GI purposes, including the recalcitrant diarrhea of HIV patients.

Cesar told us that many of these trees are hacked to death. There is a way to do it, like a skilled surgeon, so the cut makes the least damage and is the least painful. Before Cesar made a quick clean slash in the bark, he said “Perdon” to the tree.

What an endearing man! Along those lines, whether Cesar has read it or not, there was a lot of talk among the group members about the book called The Hidden Life of Trees – What They Feel, How They Communicate, by Peter Wohlleben.  

God knows that anything we can do to sensitize people to the value and importance and complexity of life can only be to the good. Science continues to verify spiritual values of appreciation, gratitude, and respect for life.