Intrepid Express reader Rhiannon Szmidt thought the only buzz on her birthday would be from the mosquitoes and bugs of the Amazon, but as it turned out, her new-found friends had other plans…
“Having left England on my big adventure only days ago; my birthday started out as a bit of a non-event. I’d only joined my Intrepid tour the day before, so no one even realised it was my birthday at first. But everyone found out on our long bus journey to the Amazon Jungle in Ecuador.
I was really looking forward to living in a dilapidated hut with my mosquito net as my only protection…but when we got there I couldn’t have imagined anything more beautiful.
The hut turned out to be a gorgeous jungle lodge and I was sharing with Sam, who I felt like I’d known forever even though we’d only met yesterday. It was right by the river and the actual lodge just made me go “wow!” The noises of the jungle and the rushing water filled the air and I couldn’t believe this was the place I’d be spending my birthday.
Not only was the lodge amazing…I had the most incredible day. I was filled with all the excitement that you only ever really feel when you are travelling and discovering somewhere new. After a little trek we visited a local community and watched how they made pottery and sampled the local alcohol made from Yukka. I even treated myself to a little piece of pottery and a bracelet for my birthday. The best was still yet to come…the local tour leaders made me a crown out of reeds and crowned me Queen of the Jungle! It was such a memorable day already and later we all stayed up and celebrated in the lodge bar.
The place was gorgeous at night because there was only electricity in the communal area, so we were surrounded by the dark jungle with only candles to light up the path ways and kerosine lamps for our bedrooms. My tour leader, Diego, had secretly arranged for the chefs to make me a big cake and they brought it out after dinner. They even put my candle in a bowl of peaches because they knew I was Vegan and couldn’t eat the cake.
I think the most magical thing about the whole day was that I had such a memorable, fantastic time and it wouldn’t have been the same if it was with any other people. I’d only met these people the day before but already they’d done something so amazing for me and made me feel so special. I feel so lucky to have shared my best birthday ever with them and in such a surreal place. I don’t think any birthday will ever match up to it…but I’ll keep trying!”
* photo by Karin Schooneveldt – Intrepid Photography Competition