Yungle Fever in the Amazon - First Stop: Posadas Amazonas
Puerto Maldonado Travel Blog› entry 40 of 89 › view all entries
Today, we arrived in the Amazon Rain Forest, aka "the Yungle." Spanish speakers often confuse the "y" and the "j" sound, which is why we ended up spending 6 days in the "Yungle" and I graduated from "Jale," aka the prison.
Getting to the Yungle did very little to quell my growing paranoia of flying. The plane flight was literally hair-raising and left my palms substantially moisturized (better than elsewhere). As we were making our final descent with the landing gear extended, we broke through the incredibly dense clouds very near to the ground and suddenly accelerated upwards. During our 20-min. "scenic flight" through very rainy rain clouds, I rediscovered my religion.
We finally landed and I felt like I needed to take a shower and curl up into the fetal position.
The lodge was absolutely gorgeous. Our rooms opened up to the rain forest so you can watch the wildlife and our beds had very necessary mosquito nets.
The next day, we woke up at 4:30 am--they really love that early rising thing--to take the boat and hike to Oxbow Lake where we did a bit of wildlife spotting. There we saw a wattled jacana, yellow breasted flycatchers, hoatzins (a prehistoric bird considered the missing link between reptiles and birds), anhinga (a waterbird with a snake-like neck, cormorants drying their wings, scarlet macaws flying overhead, long-nosed bats, blue ringed kingfishers, and smoothbilled ani.
We also spent some time fishing (and releasing) piranhas with a hook and raw beef. The one I caught was small but I would like to think, vicious! Piranhas can live up to 10 minutes out of water and the guide showed us how they will "hole-punch" leaves if you put it in front of them. Butterflies would also land on us frequently in true Cinderella fashion.
On the way back, risking love bites from piranhas and the fish that is known to swim upstream into your urethra and hook there if you are peeing, I jumped into the cloudily brown river to drift downstream. It's a bit unnerving when you can't see anything in the water. I was nervous that I would exit the water with an uninvited parasite up my pee pipe and only relaxed after my first post-river pee.
After the lake, we returned to the lodge for breakfast (it's amazing how much you can do when you wake up at 4:30!) and then went on a short hike to a canopy tower. I thought I would meet my end on that rickety canopy tower which shook as you ascended the stairs, especially with 15 people going up on it. From the canopy tower, we saw macaws flying overhead and later saw the ubiquitous dusky titi monkeys in the trees on the hike back.
After a lovely lunch, we had a much needed relax time, where I learned to speak Irish slang. Caroline taught me to say "dirty, dirty whore," which apparently is very versatile, and count (but only with numbers with "3"): "tchree tousand, tchree hundred and tcherty tchree.
Later that afternoon, we went to visit a local shaman and his garden. In transit, we saw an orange rufous-capped motmot and a beautiful capped heron. At the shaman's place, we learned about the different medicinal uses of native plants and got to try some. One of the things we were told to put in our mouth, which of course I did without question, was a very strong pepper with analgesic effects. Not fun. Most of the prepared medicines were distilled with alcohol and sugar which gave it an added bonus.
The next day, I woke up at 4 am with my roommate Marta to hike to the canopy tower for sunrise. I obvious like self-torture as it 1) early and 2) a very shaky canopy tower. Unfortunately, before we left the lodge, I was stung or bitten by something fierce. I never did see my assailant. It hurt like a mother for a long time and I had to turn back from the canopy tower soon after I reached there. Upon my return at 5:30, I went into the kitchen to let them know what happened and they took me a cupboard with container of many plastic drawers like a jewelry case. He then opened one of the labeled drawers to get me medicine but there was none left.
After breakfast, five of us (me, Avi, Caroline, Camille, and Sophie) headed on to the next lodge, the one deepest in the Amazon, while the rest of the crew headed back to Lima. It was sad to see them go.