Down the Amazon and into the jungle.
Iquitos Travel Blog› entry 18 of 26 › view all entries
Today is the day that I go into the jungle. I had no idea what to bring. But rain was predicted for today, so I decided to bring the works. Camera, rain pancho, umbrella, multiple plastic bags, insect repellant, sunscreen, itch cream... I brought it all. I wore the shorts portion of my zip off pants and brought the legs. Just in case my good insect repellent didn't do the trick I wanted to be able to cover up as much as possible.
Because of all of this preparation, I was running a bit late. But I still went out the door with a full 15 minutes to get to the office downtown. As I was passing the desk on the way out, there was a phone call for me. It was the agency making sure I was on the way. How nice.
We then took off in tuk-tuks to head for the boat dock. There were three other people headed to the Cumaceba Lodge on the tour, although I was the only person on a one day tour. There was an older Peruvian woman, and a couple. The couple was made up of a young guy from Barcelona, and a young lady from Lima. The couple spoke some english, but the woman did not.
We waited a short while for our motor boat, which was a medium sized one with a 150hp outboard. We took a short tour of the Belen neighborhood that I saw yesterday, before heading downriver.
Our first stop was at the Cumaceba Lodge where we dropped off the couple for their stay. The Peruvian woman and I were joined by a Honduran family for our trip to the Yagua tribal village. We docked and took a short walk before reaching the main building. The tribal chief welcomed us, and used a local plant to give us some red facial paint. We were then brought into the lodge and shown some native dances.
After a few dances, we danced our way back outside for a blowgun demonstration. The chief showed his prowess by shooting a small target about five meters away. He had excellent accuracy, and nailed the fake shrunken head two out of two times. Then it was our turn with the blowgun. Everybody seemed to have the same accuracy. We would hit maybe two out of three, but a little lower because of our lower lung power.
After that came the traditional hawking of the native goods. I usually do not partake in this tradition. I am usually doing my version of backpacking, so luggage space is at a minimum. But I did cave in and buy a small blowgun and another trinket for five bucks.
We then left and motored over to a small animal reserve. Here we were shown a kinkajou, white-faced capuchin monkey, a three-toed sloth, and fresh water turtle, a white caiman, an anaconda and a python. The little critters were amazing. Thoughts of a cute little kinkajou waiting for me at home were running through my mind. The sloth was a creepy, creepy thing. The guide pointed out that George Lucas used a sloth as his model for E.T., and I can certainly believe it.
The turtle was prehistoric looking and very odd. The caiman was smaller, and he seemed pretty docile. The anaconda was pretty good sized, and one of the people carried the snake around over his shoulders. I'm going to sound like a real wimp here, but I will explain.
We returned to the lodge for a short tour of a lagoon. There were alot of great birds in the area that did not want to be photographed, and alot of cool plants to be seen. After that we headed back to Iquitos. It took about 35 minutes on the river before we got back to the dock. The guide put me in a tuk-tuk, and I was off to the agency. I picked up my ticket for tomorrow's boat trip to Santa Rosa.
I went downtown to get some food, and settled on a burger joint. I had a hamburguesa americano. It was a thin hamburger with ham, a fried egg, cheese, lettuce, and tomato on it. I'm not sure if people in South America really think that we have all of that crap on burgers, but it did taste pretty good. And once again the french fries were delicious. This is one place where american restaurants could certanly learn a thing or two from places down here.
It took me a while to get to sleep, but finally did at about 1am. Ugh.