The Quijos Valley is celebrating “Dia del Oriente.” The celebration is in recognition of the day that Francisco Orellana embarked on a journey that eventually sent him down the Amazon River, February 12, 1541.
Orellana was part of a group of conquistadors headed up by Gonzalo Pizarro. The mission of the group was to find canella (cinnamon) and el dorado (the legend of a kingdom so rich in gold that the king would have himself painted in powdered gold and then swim and wash it off). The Spanish embarked on their grand adventure out of Quito, coming through the Quijos Valley following the Quijos River past San Rafael Falls, and continuing downstream to the Napo River. When Orellana broke from the group and headed down the Napo River he never intended to continue all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. He was on a 12-day mission to find food for the starving conquistadors. The problem was once he got going, there was no turning back.
In late June of 1542, Pizarro returned to Quito in rags after his failed expedition. In August of 1542, Orellana successfully reached the Atlanta Ocean, becoming the first European to navigate and descend the Amazon River. For a short time after his journey, the Amazon was actually called the Orellana River.
For the entire story of this, River of Darkness by Levy Buddy. We are adding this to our trip reading list!!