Thought it was time for a new post, but I don’t have the time to post pictures tonight.
Last week Isaac surprised me with a ticket the the jungle leaving the NEXT MORNING! Along with Isaac’s cousin Omar and his girlfriend, the four of us hopped on a plane very early in the morning only to find ourselves landing smoothly into the airport of a very hot Iquitos.
The heat we felt in the morning was nothing compared to what we would face later that day. But we excitedly (and a little tiredly) found a tour group and signed up to leave for a lodge in the jungle within the hour. Wimba tours took us in a two hour boat ride down the Rio Nanay and the Rio Amazonas to our lodge in the little pueblo of San Juan de Washalado.
After a delicious fish lunch (lots of fresh fish at every meal) we met our guide Dayvis and walked for a short hike to a nearby animal sanctuary of sorts. All the animals were free to come and go as they please, but with it being much harder to find food on their own, most of them choose to stay. We played with a variety of monkeys, wrapped an anaconda around our necks and arms met a 200 year old prehistoric turtle, let toucans and parrots rest on our shoulders, and searched for tiny frogs hopping beneath our feet.
Isaac and I, being animal lovers, had a great time. And it was all topped off with hysterical laughter as an alcoholic monkey stole our free samples of the locally made Siete Raises (A typical drink in the jungle made from Rum and 7 fermented herbs that helps with a variety of ailments, including the common cold!).
That evening we relaxed over some semi-cold beers and enjoyed (*glare*) the mosquitos until the generator went off at 9, and we stumbled through the dark to our rooms.
The next morning we rose early, before breakfast, to see some pink dolphins- but the weather was not on our side, so instead we just went on a short hike. We weren’t in deep enough jungle to even consider finding any jungle cats or more dangerous/exciting animals, but we saw some gorgeous butterflies, very cool plants and trees, and even got to meet and hold a baby sloth named Rosita!
After breakfast (organic, fresh, and local eggs and milk with bread and jam) we went with all the other guests of the lodge in a boat ride down to visit a local tribe called the Yaguas. With them we got greeted with face paint, learned to shoot darts out of a blow pipe (I was one of the only ones to hit the target), did some traditional dancing, and then, of course, got to shop a little for some locally made crafts.
Lunch passed, and then the highlight of my trip (after a nap in the hammock) was a SWIM IN THE AMAZON! They took us to a “safe” more “beach like” part, about 20 minutes from the lodge where the only things that would bite us were little fishies (no piranhas or alligators!). It was soooo beautiful, the perfect temperature, and just delicious to be swimming- especially after battling the heat of the jungle.
We saw an arcoiris (rainbow) on the way back and it landed right on our hotel- a nice touch 😉
On our third and last day at the lodge we got up in time for breakfast, then had to pack up our stuff before our last excursion: Piranha Fishing! We used raw meat to fish from our wooden fishing polls. I was the first to catch anything- a sardine, and soon after a piranha (and the biggest catch of the day!). Then I got kind of cocky (“I grew up on an island, fishing just comes naturally….”) so my luck turned. But I still had fun trying, enjoying the view, and watching everyone else struggle to be patient and their excitement as they would catch something.
As always, this good thing had to come to an end, and we returned to Iquitos and said bye to the lodge, the jungle, and our wonderful guide. We checked into a hotel, and went straight out into the city to check things out. A very small Plaza de Armas, shambos (a popsicle/ ice cream hybrid of the local fruit Aguaje), emolientes near the Boulevard, beautiful overlook of the Rio Amazona, and then some cold beers over a chat with an expat from Alaska we met in a cool bar. Eventually we went to eat, and while I was lame and went with pasta, I really regretted it once I tried Isaac’s DELICIOUS tacacho con brochetas de chorizo y cacino. Mmmm, makes me hungry just thinking about it.
Later that night the 4 of us met up again to go out to a club- Noa. After some beer and dancing, we headed back to the hotel. The next day was HOT and LONG. Not much to do in Iquitos, and we were tired. So after a delicious breakfast including the best Surtidos and Jugo Especial we had ever tired, Isaac and I attempted to walk around and entertain ourselves, but the thought of our bed in the air conditioned hotel room was too tempting. We hurried back, paid for an extra 1/2 day, then crashed.
Late afternoon we woke up, walked around a little more, bought some souvenirs, got juanes and patacones for dinner, and then headed to the airport. That night, while in the air, our Pervian Airlines plane had a turbine explode and/or engine failure. Thankfully we made it back to the ground safely.
After a long night and then morning of fighting with the airline, we eventually made it back to Lima and into the very worried and loving arms of Isaac’s mom and aunt who were waiting for us at the airport. Overall, aside the near death experience, it was a wonderful trip that I’ll never forget.
And on that night- we’re headed off the the Dominican Republic for a week of sun and sand and relaxation (and lots and lots of rum) in Punta Cana!
Wish us luck! Blessings 🙂