When you live in Ecuador, you are never very far from a jungle. Some are on the east side and have famous rivers and tributaries running through them. Most of these end up in the mighty Amazon. Here, on the west side of the Andes, it is more like California in that there are high mountains, foothills, lots of farms, and then miles of wonderful beaches. Unlike California, however, whenever you are in foothills, jungles sprout up! Of course, when people live and farm in the foothills, they are constantly pushing the jungle growth away.
But...if you are a progressive thinking country, you set aside millions of acres of habitat as national forests, and this is exactly what Ecuador has done.
We are fortunate, in that we have several national forest preserves within an easy drive of our house.
So...Sunday, Rox, Coquita, and I set out to have a picnic deep in the jungle...(that is, if you figure about three miles into denser and denser jungle on a dirt road "deep"). We weren't planning on some big trip, just something a little different than eating Lunch in Puerto Lopez or dinner at the Casa Blanca.
It was different all right!
Now...we did not take this photo! here is the credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ec/Black_Jaguar_%28Panthera_onca%29.JPG
What we saw, way to quickly to draw and shoot our own photos, was a mother who looked just like this big guy pictured above, and her little cub which was about half her size.
We both said "Black Panther" at the same time when we saw them, but we were puzzled, because we saw such long noses. We were definite about the big, fuzzy tails, however.
So...after taking a look at this guy's big schnoz, we knew that we had just seen the rest of his family.
They were crossing the dirt road just in front of us--momma first, then little junior hippy hopping after her. She wasn't afraid of us in the least!
We also drove beside jillions of Birds of Paradise flowers that are just now blooming. Here is a bouquet Rox brought home...
Oh! Before you ask, Coquita slept through the whole sighting!
And...the chicken sandwiches were just fine, washed down with Coke Zero and Chablis...