Loading up into the smaller canoe on the lake to the lodge.

Smaller canoes are waiting for us on the bank of the Challua, the lake that will take us to the lodge.  I’m worried about one of our group members, who is walking with two hiking poles. She is doing fine, but it will be a few large steps down from the deck into the small canoe. But once again, my fears are baseless. The crew members are ready with a hand, guiding her and all of us easily into the boat. We board two at a time to keep the canoe balanced. The crew assists with finesse, careful not to embarrass prideful travelers (like me) who may not think they need help.

Our luggage is packed tightly in the back of the long, narrow canoe, adding weight and stability.  Once everyone is settled, we push off, paddling under the dark canopy down a narrow passage. The banks are much closer to the canoe, which means the wildlife is also close. Yet they seem oblivious to our silent intrusion.

Victor stands at the front of the canoe. How does he keep his balance so easily? He gives us a description of the area, pointing out and naming the colorful birds. He tells us we close to the lodge’s boat landing.

And just as Victor promised, the river banks dramatically part and the Challua lake opens up in front of us. It’s large, and the surface shines with perfect reflections of the trees above. It’s an upside down, topsy-turvy view of the world around me.

A few minutes later, the Sani Lodge’s dock appears. I see the thatched roofs of the lodge high up on the river bank. I feel butterflies in my stomach, as we glide quietly to the boat landing.

As the canoe is tied, I can see the staff waiting to greet us. They all have big grins on their faces and are wearing crisp burgundy or blue Sani Lodge polo shirts and khaki pants. They seem genuinely happy to see us approach, and they cannot wait to escort us off the small canoe and proudly show us their Sani Lodge.



As part of our continuing work with the indigenous Amazonian community of Sani Isla in Ecuador, Deborah Tompkins is sharing a travelogue of her experiences as an American in the Amazon. Deb’s company, Sage Point, works with NGOs in Africa, Asia and now Latin America to develop and execute marketing and communication strategies. She is donating her time and expertise to support RP and the Sani Warmi community. We invite you to join Deb as she introduces you to the people, the community, their Amazon ecolodge, and their forest home.

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