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Published: November 3rd 2007
View from the Bow
This is what we saw for 4 days straight (when there wasn´t rain)
I know its been too long, but there are reasons for no entries. Ive been busy and having fun. And when I wrote this entry before, a huge rainstorm in Santa Marta, Colombia flooded the streets and knocked out all of the power erasing pages of writing (I had been saving it as well, but when I got back online all was gone)
Anyway, when I left you all last time I was on a journey to the jungle. That journey was long, but worth the wait. Natalie and I spent hours on buses and two days on a cargo boat before we reached Iquitos. On the way we visited large and small towns, toured the markets, and bought sunglasses, and even had a fashion show of our own on the bus. We went from the chilly mountain weather of Huaraz to the hot, sticky, humid weather of Iquitos, Peru.
Our cargo boat ride was a fun experience. Only 14 travelers on the boat, all sleeping on the open air 3rd deck with at least 80 locals all jammed into the closed in space on the 2nd deck. Who knows why they choose to stay down there when we
Tiger Cat Fish
They get bigger than this. (we did not catch it, but bought one a little smaller for lunch- it fed 5 people to maximum capacity
had plenty of room up above, but it made us happy to have enough room between hammocks to swing. The ride lasted two nights and everyone aboard was a lot of fun. We had people from Peru, Australia, France, Spain, Iran, and of course the U.S of A. Nat and I had actully met the lady from Iran at the lodge in Huaraz and happened to run into her again in the town of Yurimaguas befor departing. She is a beautiful lady that turned 50 on the second night of the boat ride, on which a party was thrown. There was a makeshift DJ, booze, and dancing. Natalie and I were party poopers, so we just drank the booze and laid in our hammocks instead. During the trip food was fed to us on the second deck. It was tasty food, but you had to push your way through all of the hammocks and locals to reach the kitchen line. It was fine for me, but Natalie got harassed everytime by the local men yelling out ¨hola China¨. I had to accompany her to the bathroom on the second floor a couple of times to help keep the harassment at
It looks poisonous to me, what do you think?
bay. After many stops at small villages along the way to drop off cargo and a few large rainstorms later we made it to Iquitos.
What we thought would be a cool jungle town turned out to be a massive dirty jungle town. In all, we were lucky enough to only spend one night there. When we arrived we went to find a company offering jungle tours and we had been recommended one by a local guide in Yurimaguas. He even called ahead to inform the owners we were coming. We were offered a $40 per day private river ¨cruise¨. Just Natalie and myself with a guide, guide apprentice, and cook on a 20 ft wooden boat that had no protection from the sun (we actually only needed protection from the rain). On the first day we got to visit a locals home and see where they made fresh cane juice (not cocaine), but sugar cane. They also fermented the juice and made some bootleg liqour. It was all very strong and sweet and worth a taste. After our visit, the rain began and really did not stop for the next 4 hours. It downpoured and downpoured unlike anything
Boat ride to Leticia
I have ever seen. To help ourselves enjoy the wetness, Nat and I went for an Amazonian swim. The amazon has the most fresh water in the world, but I do not know why that is. The water is far from fresh. It is the dirtiest brown water I have ever been in. It was more fun than I could have imagined! After our lunch, Natalie and I spent the next 3 hours going up river on the boat under a plastic tarp to keep us dry I guess. We also helped bail out the water on the boat. At one point we both had to go to the bathroom so bad that we had no other choice, but to use the bucket we had been using to bail the water out. Mom you know all about the pee bucket.....now I can sympathise with you. Anyway, it may sound gross, but it was one of the funniest events of my trip thus far. All accounts of pee shyness must disappear in these situations. Natalie was right next to me under the tarp. We were hysterical for a good few minutes. Now, on to better images for all of you. We were on a small river boat, going up a small tributary in the Amazon. The river was about 75 feet across in the largest of areas with incredible jungle life looming over head in all areas. On the first day, many river banks were visible because of the low water level. It was beautfiul. We set up camp on a beach and were in bed by 8:30. On Day 2 we were off again up river, but the views changed. All of the sand banks and disappeared from view. The rain the day before caused the river to rise upwards of 6 feet. Now the sides of the river had jungle plants hanging into them. It was exactly as I pictured the scene in my head before the trip. On this day we were lucky to not have any rain hit us while on the boat and we did not spend as many hours on a hard wooden bench. Instead we made camp earlier and went for a jungle walk. It was unlike my jungle walk in Costa Rica because there was not much of a path and when there was no path at all the apprentice made one with his machete. We hiked for about 2 hours in search of some animals without too much success at first. Specifically, we were searching for monkies. We had a 16 guage shotgun with us and the plan was to shoot a monkey for dinner. Who doesnt want to try eating monkey brains after seeing Indian Jones? (i think it was in one of those movies) well, we didnt have such luck, but we did come upon a 3 toed sloth that I spotted while chasing down a monkey. The guides wanted me to shoot it down (a tough shot because the move so quickly). I relented though because Natalie, an eco tourism major, informed me that they are endangered. Although the guides insisted that they are delicious, we let the cool thing go after tormenting it for a bit. The apprentice attempted to chop down the tree it was in and while doing so the sloth wa actually able to move rather quickly. During the hike, we were very happy to have our guides. Without them we would have been so incredibly lost. The guide also went through the hike breaking branches in order to give us direction during out night hike so we would not get lost. Our night hike was started around 10:30 during the ¨quiet¨hours. The bugs there make so much noise that the night time is incredibly loud and a lot of fun to listen to. The purpose of this hike was to find bugs. We actually did not find much inside the jungle other than some spiders and light up worms. The biggest spider was found right outside our tent door. It was actually rather lame in terms of what we saw, but a good experience in all. On day 3 we started to head back down the river towards Iquitos. Part way down the river our guides decided to build us a raft out of wood. We were not too amped about sitting on an uncomfortable raft for a while and at first would have rather sat on the boat. We were really mistaken. The 5 x 5 ft. raft they made us was awesome. (we found 3/4 of it already made stuck in debris) Anyway, as soon as we got on the rain began and did not stop for the next 2 hours. It was just the two of us floating down the river in a terrential downpour. We had such a good time and it turned out to be the best part of the tour for me. Along the way we would paddle to raft to the side to grab some guava fruit hanging from the trees. The day was fantastic. On day 4 we just boated out of the area early enough for us to grab the only cargo boat leaving Iquitos for Leticia, Colombia. We made it in time, but were not happy to see that the conditions of the boat were worse than our first experience. The locals were as crowded as ever, but there were only 3 travelers. Natalie, myself, and an older man from Arkansas. Both decks 2 and 3 were overcrowded with people. You could not sleep straight in your hammock without rubbing up against the person in the next hammock. It was an amazing site. Plus, there were only about 8 life vests on our deck. Id love to see these saftey standards fly in the U.S. The food was also crappy, so our boat ride out was not much fun. We were just happy to be on our way to a new country. The forbidden land of Colombia!
Computers are crap where I am right now so I dont have too many new pictures, but a few are located in the links below. More to come on my next blog which I will write when we get to Cartagena.
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