Published: September 1st 2006September 1st 2006
Hi all, this is Lorna. Firstly sorry for the punctuation on this blog - this keyboard is half spanish and half english and there are a few things including apostrophes that I cant find!
Weve been slack with the blogs the last few days - mainly cos theres no electricity in the jungle, but then since back in Lima weve been pretty busy. Now, Ali is off out on a city tour with the rest of the group were travelling with, but having suffered with the dreaded peruvian belly for the past 12 hours or so, I am hotel bound and thought I would bash out a blog - Ali may decide to add an extra one when she gets back if I dont include everything on this!
Anyways....so what have we been up to?
Last time we left you, we were still at Lima airport waiting for our long delayed flight to Iquitos. Well, in the end the delay turned in to a full 13.5 hours and we finally took off at 19.45hrs, arriving at Iquitos in the dark at about 21.15hrs (upon meeting up with some people in the jungle, we heard a worse story, in that they had flown all the way from Lima to Iquitos...only to find that as they came in to land the plane took off again and went all the way back to Lima due to the heavy rain making landing too dangerous!!! They then had to wait at Lima for 5 hrs before doing the whole flight again!)
Iquitos was a fantastic city. It is totally landlocked and the only way in is by plane or boat. It houses about 600 thousand people and they all seemed to be out on the street the night we arrived. Everywhere you look there are hundreds of brightly coloured tuk-tuks...little mototaxis consisting of a motorbike pulling a little cart that theoretically seats two...although the record seen by Ali was 8 people in the back of one of these! The city is clearly very poor, but the people are really friendly and shout their holas at you as they shoot past. Unfortunately, we didnt get to spend a whole lot of time there due to the delay, but we were put up in a hotel there for the night to await our boat to the jungle lodge....all we actually ended up doing was going out for a quick look round and a beer - unfortunately, within 10 minutes of us setting out on our look around, a tropical rain storm arrived and we ended up sitting in a funny little bar (wait til u see the pics) drinking beer until the rain stopped two hours later! Have never seen rain like it!
Next morning, we got picked up from the hotel by our jungle guide, a lady called Larissa who was really great. We were also joined by Diane from New York who was really great to travel with. We headed off for the lodge on a boat accompanied by Larri and the regional school teacher (who we dropped off on some random sand bank where she was met by a lady and small child before walking off into the horizon with them). En-route to the lodge we stopped off in the major town for that area...which really consisted of some floating rafts with huts built on them to sell things to tourists passing through, a very steep river bank and a number of houses up on top. Apparently, this is the most important town in the area as it has the best bakery! Diane needed the ladies room whilst there and was led to a raft round the side, with a hole in the floor straight to the river. mmmm very reassuring bearing in mind the kids swimming all around it!
It was a great experience stopping off there. We were totally surrounded by little kids who all wanted to have their photos taken with us, and then look at them on our digi cameras - apparently without the tourists, none of them would ever have seen a picture of themselves. We then finished the journey to the lodge - total of 180km from Iquitos.
We stayed at the lodge for 3 nights and 4 days. Met some great people whilst staying there, including Diane (already mentioned) Shara & Simon from England but living in Rome, Andy & Margaret from US but living in Lima and Debbie from Oz who were there for pretty much all of our stay. The days basically consisted of a number of different types of excursion - we did some hiking through the deep jungle, some canoeing, a visit to the local village, piranha fishing, swimming in the amazon, spotting pink and grey dolphins and numerous boat trips to look at various different animals. Saw all kinds of birds, monkeys, dolphins, giant ants and other insects, sloths, tarantula, cant remember if any others. On the night boat Ali got to hold a baby caiman that one of the boat guys had caught......think she was more freaked out by the cockroach crawling up her leg at the time! Its really incredible how the guides spot the animals so easily.....even in the dark. Youre just cruising along in the boat and suddenly they give a shout and tell you that the black ball at the top of that tree 50 metres away is a sloth and look how its hanging upside down and moving its head to the left! Havent got a clue which opticians they use but we could do with it in england. The mossies were a bit mad - the ones on our first hike were huge...when they bit you they actually visibally drew blood!
The lodge was full board - and the food was absolutely amazing...really tasty, lots of fish, rice, salads and fruit. Really healthy and nutritious. The staff were all great, really friendly and eager to share all their knowledge with us. Would go back in a flash! Its funny how while youre there time almost stands still...we were constanly having to check what day it was and I know I said several times Is it really still Tuesday??? Life is so simple and with no electricity, the place is totally magical lit up by kerosene lamps at night.
We boated back to Iquitos on a pretty full boat. We left the same day as most of those named above and also had some locals in the back of the boat who were off to Iquitos. Hit a very brief rainstorm, but by the time we had pulled the tarp down, it had already stopped. At Iquitos airport was bemused to find that our flight tickets indicated our flight was at 18.30hrs but our boarding card had changed it to 19.45hrs! Apparently, pretty standard peruvian procedure. Having had the experience of the delay in Lima, we werent really surprised!
Arriving back in Lima Weds night, we shared a cab with Shara and Simon who were headed in the same direction as us. You really have to haggle with the drivers....this was Sharas task as she has some spanish......got a great deal at 35 soles......by the time we had walked out to the car, it was 40 soles.....once our luggage was in the boot, it had increased to 50 soles!!!! Drives you mad, but it was still a good deal!
Thursday Ali and I met up with Al, a guy from Chesham who on a chance meeting a couple of months back, Ali had discovered was going to be in Lima at the same time as us. We spent the day pretty much wandering around.....walked about 5kms along the ocean front and ended up a great little suburb called Barranco - very arty with some nice buildings, little square and market etc. Stopped off for the obligatory couple of beers there and chatted to an english guy who has just bought the hostel there.....everyone you talk to says how great peru is and how fantastic life is here.
Another 3 or 4kms back again and we were back at the hotel. This is when I succumbed to peru belly and retreated to my room....Al and Ali went out for a few hours but she will have to fill u in on that if she wants as I havent had a chance to ask where they went etc.
Today we have met up with the rest of the group we will be travelling with. Most of them are couples, I think one girl and one guy who are solo travellers and me and Ali. They seem like a nice bunch and Rob the group leader is quite amusing....so all in all it should be a good three weeks....
Tomorrow, we are off to the Ballestas Islands (the poor mans Galapagos) to look at seals, penguins, birds etc and then on to Paracas. Cant remember what he said was there, but sure it will be good. Only downside is that we have a 5am alarm call.....aggghhhh. Still its a four hour drive, so no doubt we will sleep on the bus!
Hopefully will get the chance to blog again in a few days....might even get back on and add some photos later if I can get it to work......sure its a bit boring for you guys reading all this stuff without pics! Ali may well decide to get online later and add some stuff......so keep checking!
Til then....hope everyone is well.......
Lorna & Ali x