Nose to the sky, feet in the sand. I sink my toes into the silky, powder of the river banks. We sit beneath dancing leaves that cast a kaleidoscope of shadows and light across our cozy embankment. The air is heavenly. Not warm enough to invite a sweat, yet not cool enough to be bothered by the shade.
Big, billowing clouds tower high above the horizon and smooth ribbons of water ripple through the currents below. Icy blue streaks peak at the ridges of the soft, olive blankets; revealing the secret of the chilly, river waters. Two channels weave together, twisting and churning at the center, cutting beaches and cliffs at the edges before finally succumbing to their intended unity. As far as the eye can see, only greens and blues highlighted by the sands and clouds.
Butter colored butterflies dance on the breeze and taunt our dog with tickles on the nose. Like the old dog he is, Joey lets out a long sigh and rolls over with his belly to the trees. There could be worse things in life than to be bothered by butterflies on a deserted beach. The other, with the eternal puppy spirit, leaps gleefully across the beach spraying sand, water, and slobber across every last grain. Dante, with a sparkle in his eye and the wind in his ears, has no intention of a lazy, beach day. The children are huddled together digging pits in the sinfully soft sand, begging Daddy to tuck them in up to their chins.
This little haven is a spectacular place on the outskirts of the Amazon Rain-forest in Ecuador, at an establishment known as the Playa la Union. It is a campground, virtually deserted on the weekdays such as it was on our visit. Easily accessible by highway, yet fully tucked into the dense, jungle foliage. The beach is an oasis, with the feel of a deserted island. We spent much of the day pretending we were the likes of the Swiss Family Robinson. Rolling around in the sand, squealing in the exhilarating waters, and dangling from the trees in our favorite hammocks.
When the clouds above us swirled with darkening colors, we raced to our campsite for respite from the looming rains. But, they hung overhead in resistance to let us explore the foresty side of our outdoor abode. We spent the afternoon looking for patterns and shapes in nature, amazed and inspired by all that we could find in the moments as we lingered. The tangled roots of bank-side trees, stretching to the water one way and to the hills the other. Speckled with the flat, smooth rocks of the river and the scattered leaves of the canopy. The stripes of the banana tree leaves and the magnificent purple bloom of the impending fruit. The strange raised polka dots clinging to the undersides of massive, unknown leaves. An army of ants carefully climbing the trunk of an orange tree, methodically avoiding the vibrant green hoops of moss that decorated the bark. And finally, the water color splashes across the psychedelic bark of the guayaba tree.
As the evening wore on, the skies glittered with diamonds. The grasses lit up with the soft, flickering glow of fire flies. Our children closed their eyes to the rhythms of the bonfire and the hum of the frogs.
My hubby and I sat up together at the foot of the bed, feet kicking together over the edge of the tailgate. We whispered above the chatter of the river, dreaming of places yet to venture until the air turned cooler and the skies clouded over once more. We crawled inside, hands stretched across the slumbering lumps between us, giggling quietly as the first drops tinkled against the tin roof umbrellas outside.