Monkeys, Rain, Dolphins and Sharman

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South America » Peru » Loreto
May 23rd 2016
Published: August 9th 2016
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Today wake up was 600 am for a 6.30 departure. I slept pretty well woke up a few times but fell straight back to sleep.

Maria woke up 500 to try catch the 5.30 sunrise. She invited me last night but I said I would sleep in. When she got back she said there wasn't a clear sunrise with the clouds but she saw lots of birds.

We went downstairs and a lot of people were already in the other skiff. We jumped into the quieter one with the bench seats. It ended up the best group. We were the 'young' boat which soon became known as the anacondas. Pretty much because any time Juan Carlos asked what we wanted to see I'd scream out Anaconda. I like to set the bar high. Leopard in Africa, Anaconda in the Amazon. I could have said Jaguar to provide a greater challenge. I think Anaconda is a reasonable request.

At work when everyone asked what I wanted to see and I said Anaconda they all thought I was crazy. I said I'd come home sad if I didn't get to see one. Someone at work said what if it eats you. I informed them I would die happy.

In our boat was Maria, myself, Christie, Emily, Kristan, Ashley and Raquel. We became known as the single 7. We were all around the same age and pretty much all came on thinking it would be just ourselves and an older crowd and judging by what the staff were saying I think that is normally the case. We totally lucked out on this trip with each other, the upgrades boat and the incredible crew that came with the change of boat. Also in our boat was Marias Parents and one of the older canadian ladies. We nabbed Juan Carlos as our guide, young Alinson as our driver and Marcos the medic as extra entertainment.

Day one they informed us to keep our cameras near the bathroom as they would fog up less there. In my room it was fine. It was outside in the super early Amazon heat that I fogged up. Amazon filter – gives a misty eerie feel to the pictures.

Day one was a good start. We saw lots of monkeys, birds and pink dolphins. Well that was easier then I expected. Birds included a woodpecker and the Hoatzin aka the ginger. The Hoatzin is a little ugly and weird but also incredibly cool. They are only found in the Amazon and believed to be the most prehistoric bird. They cannot be traced to any currently alive bird family and are classified in a group of their own. They are one of the only birds since the Jurassic period born with clawed wings. The babies are born with 2 claws in each wing which they retain but do not use as adults. They are also the only bird that ferments its food in a similar way to a cow.

The monkeys we saw at several different stops. Mostly squirrel monkeys but also a few Saddle Back Tamarin Monkeys.

At one point Ali drove us ashore and Juan Carlos macheted our way into the jungle. We went in and stood really quiet and still. Soon we were surrounded by the spider monkeys. At first they were scared but soon they jumped in the trees around us to investigate. They didn't come too close and were constantly on the move. You could see them jumping from tree to tree travelling above our heads. So small and quick it was hard to get a shot but nice to live in the moment and take them in.

As soon as we got back to the boat it started to rain. Hard! There was no easing us into it. It was clear sky to someone turning on a tap above us. The crew threw us ponchos to put on. The rain was coming so hard I was unable to get my own rain jacket so just used the one provided. We all got soaked. It was like we jumped into the Amazon river fully clothed. It was ok at first but the rain on the Seats came under the ponchos so we all had really wet arses and thighs.

Kristan the poor girl didn't get a poncho and was soaked. Turns out waterproof jackets do not fall under Amazon rain proof. After about 10 minutes I said there was a spare one sitting on the seat next to me so everyone cracked up. Someone had said everyone had one initially or that she didn't want one so I didn't notice or think to throw it to her. I didn't pay attention to fact she wasn't wearing one. I guess that means I can't really complain to much about being wet. We may have been soaked but the poor girl was practically drowning.

Considering we were already wet Juan Carlos said we may as well swim with the pink dolphins.

Typically the rain stopped once we docked. I ended up not swimming with the Dolphins. Most people would assume this is because I'm being smart – not swimming in the Amazon. I mean who knows what animals or bacteria is in there right. However my reason was more stupid. The water was so cold and I am a big wimp. Its sad but its true.

In the end only about 6/7 people went in. It was really cool though to watch them. The dolphins kept coming to have a look at the swimmers. We saw so many. I was thinking we would be lucky to see them at all this tour but today they were everywhere. Despite this and about 30 attempts to get a photo I was failing miserably and gave up. Pinky was imprinted in my mind but not on my camera. Later on our way back I was taking a picture of the scenery when one popped up photo bombing me and giving me my clearest dolphin shot yet.

Breakfast was much fancier than I expected. We were handed a tray with a packed breakfast that included a muffin, a chicken roll, an avocado/tomato/egg sandwich and 2 different packs of biscuits. Tea, coffee and juice were also supplied. Pretty amazing place to have breakfast – on a small boat in the Amazon surrounded by pink dolphins poking their heads up to say hello and Juan Carlos calling to nature. Only a few hours out on the boat and I have seen more wildlife in the Amazon that some people get to see their entire lives.

Continuing on we found more macaws and monkeys. At one stage Juan Carlos noticed otter tracks (this guy is insane). We jumped back off the skiff and had a really steep muddy climb up the embankment. We used a vine Tarzan style over a branch to actually pull ourselves up the muddy slope. Juan Carlos pointed out a place the otters had been recently where fish bones and scales were left behind. He tried to track the otters but they had moved on.

Juan Carlos also used the machete to grate some sort of tree bark and squeezed it into each of our hands. It was a blood red liquid. He warned us it tastes horrible but will stop and diarrhoea and prevent upset tummies. We all tried it and it was pretty bitter and completely dried out your mouth. Juan Carlos also cut up some fallen branches from the 'penis tree' which look like natures natural dildos. He displayed what they represented on his crotch in case we were too innocent to figure it out for ourselves. He gave a big one to Ashley, a medium to Emily and a small one to Kristan saying you get Monkey penis (lucky girl). We walked for a bit and the skiff picked us up from a different area. We were in thick heavy trees and had to be cut some branches to get back out. One flung back and smashed against one of the older ladies but everyone including her laughed.

Being out in the Amazon on the little Skiffs was an amazing experience. We went pretty 'off road' in some of the river tribunals to the extent we chopped trees and branches out of the way to get through. We got stuck a few times but the boys always saved the day and it made it a better adventure. We were out on the water until about 11.30 so had an hour spare back at the boat until lunch. I couldn't wait to get out of the wet clothes. Its really hot during the day but because of the humidity we just didn't dry at all. Anyone who knows me knows one of my biggest hates is being wet and stuck in wet clothing. I basically went to my room I used the hair dryer to dry my clothes so I could put them back on in the afternoon. Productive (loser) before lunch.

Lunch again was fish chicken rice with fruits and Ice cream for dessert.

Our next activity was not until 3.30pm so I went to lie down and have a nap for about an hour. After my struggle to stay awake yesterday I wanted to have a nap so tonight wouldn't be such a challenge.

Our afternoon excursion was to visit a local Sharman. It started to rain on the trip out but nothing like before. My blow drying went out the window as I had a wet butt again as soon as I sat on the Skiff.

The Sharman was really interesting. Our Sharman was female which I don't think is overly common. She was a cute little lady. She first spoke in her local language then spoke in Spanish and Daniel translated. She explained a little about it like how they use the rainforest to heal people and the differences between Sharman and witch doctors. It was presented to us that she is a good lady. The Sharman are the heelers. The Witch Doctors are the 'evil' ones who put curses on people. Each tribe has both a Sharman and a witch doctor. Ayahuasca was also discussed and how its used locally and by tourists. She said to do a ceremony you need to take a lot of preparation to make sure the area is cleansed and free of evil.

Daniel got us to ask questions or he made out that one of us asked a question and he got the answers for us. For example to be a Sharman doctor part of the process is no sex for 8 years. Along with healing she can also read auras.

She then passed around some of the medicinal herb mixtures for us to sniff and explained what they are used for. One was a natural Viagra which roughly translated to 'prick in the pants' and '7 times straight'. Emilys father asked for it as a joke and she looked mortified. She also had a hair grown treatment which she rubbed into Emily's dads head.

After our medicine introduction the Sharman gave us all a blessing. She sang, waved leaves and smoked tobacco in our faces. You were supposed to guide the smoke into our face and over our head to complete the process. Its really interesting but she also comes across as an old lady who just loves to smoke a lot of who knows what.

After the she read a few peoples pulse and auras. She said everyone was fine but then said Raquel had envy following her and to be careful. I kind of wish I had mine done.

The rain had slowed down by the time we left. We returned to the boat for 10 minutes to change and use facilities then went back out to go canoeing with locals. We could choose to just sit there or row. I was thinking great I get sit here and be guided down the river. However mine didn't give me much choice but to help. Several times I wondered why we not moving too much and I turned around and my paddling lady was sitting back chilling on the phone not paddling and I was taking her for a leisurely ride (how she had reception how I don't know).

When we got back had a shower and met the girls in the lounge/bar. Its such a nice relaxing comfortable area to chill and the bar tender Martin is lovely. I had my first Picso Sour since being on board. It was really good. Dinner again was fish and chicken in different sauces with rice pudding for desert. Its amazing how they can use the same type of food and make it taste so different. We stayed and chatted for about an hour after dinner having a big laugh about our day. It's been a great group of people.

We retreated to our rooms about 830 put our laundry out (free laundry service) and I went to bed about 9.30. Another 600 wake up set for tomorrow.

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