Ayampe is a little beach town situated on the splendors coast from Ecuador, State of Manabi. I found about this place accidentally, while I as passing through it by bus heading to Puerto Lopez from Salinas to watch the ending season of the Jorobadas Whales. It called so much my attention because of its rootness, dirt roads, with alternative looking travelers around and a mountain covered with vegetation on the right side. What a good vibe! I was convinced that I needed to go back there soon as possible. By this time, I was volunteering in Bosque Protector Cerro Blanco (BPCB), a natural reserve located at the neighbored State, Santa Elena, so probably it should not take long for me to go back there.
BPCB it is a beautiful green area, incredibly located in such a big city – Guayaquil, that is even bigger than the capital of the country, Quito. It is connected with the coast area of Manabi and Santa Elena by Cordillera Chongón Colonche, sharing a big dry forest that holds endemic species of animals and plants, especially one bird species that has been extinct mainly by the deforestation for agriculture and housing that ending up not leaving space for their nests – the Great Green Macaw, known as Papagayo de Guayaquill. It is very similar to the known Brazilians macaws, but with different colors in their faces and body. In order to recover this species, BPCB and others Ecuadorian Foundations are trying to recover them by reproducing and growing in captive, and, soon as they can, make it free after a Rehabilitation Program. Generally, the macaws are symbol of nature from my country, Brazil, and I really appreciate them. Besides the fact that they have for the whole life the same partner (“true love!”), they are so beautiful, their flight is so specially distinguish, giving me the sensation of eternal freedom.
So, by the time I was volunteering in the Reserve of Cerro Blanco, I used to take advantage I was living so close to the coast area, and, after the whole week of work, I would look for a different beach to refresh myself and enjoy the unique sunsets of Pacific Ocean. Until it finally got the time to visit Ayampe! What a happy day; there I was going to explore again, alone, new places! I have always been in love with this feeling.
Not making much further plans, when I got to Ayampe I found the Colombian hospitality of a woman that owned a Hostal there. When talking more with this Lady about the things I could do that day besides going the beach, she told me there were a hiking in the midst of the mountains, even though she was not so sure on how was the way inside. The path is called Caminho del Colibri (Humminbird´s trail), probably because the quantity of this birds we can see on the way, and on it you can feel the taste of being on the woods, totally forgotten of what is urbanization. Without doing any other research, I followed her instructions to get on the trail, and, later on, I was just following the few signs on the way.
It was a nice little road, covered by mud on some parts, and in a few kilometers after walking some while I have found the entrance of a project called Jocotoco, a cousin-project from BPCB that also works protecting local fauna and flora. It was kind of a surprise, because as far as I knew, this Project was located at the Capital, Quito. Anyway, there was anybody there to ask, it was just a sign. I kept on my way, and few kilometers ahead there was a river – the big Ayampe River, I found out later – where I took a wonderful and unexpected warm naked bath. I did not see anybody for a long time, so I was really feeling like ¨forever-alone-in-the-woods¨. I was glad for a moment, singing freely, thanking to Pachamama (our Mother Nature) for that big present of being there, surrounded by that pure nature and dense green forest in the mountains for everywhere my eyes could see. I was definitely ALONE, PEACEFULL and HAPPY for being there in that exactly moment in time.
After some time, I kept going on the supposed path, crossing the River that occasionally crossed the visible way again and again. Since it was a bit late, I was careful about the time, not forgetting I had to come back ¨home¨, and despite of this plus the fact that I did not see any sign anymore for a long time, I decided to keep on walking to enjoy that pleasant ambient. That decision push me to the edge, because, when I realized, I was not sure anymore about the way to go back; then, I got my cellphone to take a look on the GPS to find out that the blue dot was settled just in the middle of some green area, very far from the Ocean and Ayampe town. I did not even know how I ended up so far away! In addition, I did not see anybody for at least the last 4 hours… Ok, I was starting to be a bit worried.
Before I was thanking to Pachamama to be by myself, but at that time, all I wanted was to find A HUMAN on my way. ANYONE that could tell me what was the way back. I was walking, trying to recognize the places I have passed on the trail – ¨they all look the same!¨ – remembering the tools I had on my backpack to spend the night over there, thinking that at least I had potable water from the river. “I will be all right” it was my mantra. On the lasts months that I had been volunteering in the Bolivian and Peruvian jungle, I have heard so many survival histories from people that got lost in the woods just like me, and I knew I could survive as well. Of course, the butterflies in my stomach were very noisy by this point of this adventure.
Then I heard something. I finally heard something that it was not birds! A humanity noise. ¨It might be a car, or a bike…¨, I was running towards that sound, shouting ¨hola… assistencia…¨ (words meaning help). Indeed, there were some people there; ¨Humans! Thanks GOD!¨, I thought. With just some time to get my breath back, we talked and they told me they were from Jocotoco Project, and that they were going to check the Macaws in the cage where they were rehabilitating it to be free very soon. Luckily, they invited me to go there with them. Wow! As I said before, I had heard about a very similar project from BPCB, and I was really sad I did not make on time to see those fascinating birds since they were released just few weeks before my arrival there. I did not know there was any other projects like that on that region, and, maybe by the power of destiny or my intuition, I ended up making an unplanned very pleasant connection in the middle of nowhere. That was so awesome! It happened the last thing i expected and I was so glad, again, for that : )
At the end, everything was wonderfully fine: I have got to known the beautiful 14 macaws that were release just a week later – those people even gave me a feather from one of the birds! At night, finally, I could sit on the beach, and, feeling my legs palpitate from fatigue, enjoy the refreshing ocean breeze on my face.