Down the Rio Napo: Part 1 – Jungle Tour with Teenage Catholic Missionaries

by Brooks

I met a cute girl in Nuevo Rocafuerte, Ecuador. She was a catholic missionary from Quito, visiting the Ecuadorian Amazon with a big group of young people doing mission work. They were going to visit Yasuní National Park for the day, the most bio-diverse place on Earth. She invited me to come along.

I felt uncomfortable being attracted to a catholic missionary. Turns out she was only 18, which is a little young for me, but more importantly, she was a catholic missionary. For me, attraction usually means an interest in sex. She seemed attracted to me too, but what does that mean for her? Marriage? It just felt wrong, like a love affair between a Jedi and a Sith (am I the Sith, or is she?).

The Vatican paid for my boat ride, my entrance fee, and the guide in the national park. The serenity and wonder of the park was ruined by chatting, laughing, teenage missionaries, and the loud nun that came along, but I fully appreciated my luck in getting a free tour. If there were any jaguars hanging around, we scared them off and didn’t see any.

I want to see an anaconda in the wild. That sounds pretty cool. We went for a swim in a lagoon towards the end of the tour, and I wondered if anacondas might live there. The guide, who otherwise seemed pretty lax about safety, was adamant that we stick together in a big group, and that no one swim off on their own. There were pink river dolphins, but we only saw little flashes of their backs from afar, and the ripples left behind when they dove back under the water.

We were back on the boat. When no one was looking, the guide smiled like a boy with a slingshot and pointed at the girl beside me. He made a lewd gesture with his hands, like he was squeezing her ass, and he laughed. I literally did not comprehend what he was doing. It seemed inconceivable to me that a jungle tour guide was making that gesture at a teenage, catholic missionary girl. After a few seconds, I rearranged my model of reality and gained the ability to understand what he was saying. Despite not approving of his gist, I couldn’t help but laugh.