Mike and Karen's South America Trip travel blog


Ok... this entry is to cover our Amazon experience.

We woke up to our pick up at 730 in the morning. After boarding the bus, and then the boat, we realized quickly that we were probably the only young people going to the lodge. It was cool though becuase we got our own guide, Renillo Vasquez. He grew up in the jungle until he was 11, when he was sent to live with his uncle in some mining camps. He learned English and has been living in Iquitos for about 20 years, and has been a guide for 16. We really liked him as a guide, he was awesome.

So the boat trip was going well when we stopped for a little at an island village for a lady - who we later met - Sintia who works for an organization named Conapac. Conapac is an organization that works to bring educational material to amazon elementary and (some) high schools as well as educated the community about the importance of keeping the rainforest rather than selling it for a (expensive sum for the community) cheap sum. Guess what she was wearing by the way? BOOTS! For those of you who don~t know mike and i have been ...discussing...my choice to bring boots to the amazon. while i didn~t want to be bitten by snakes or get super dirty, it was also a pain to bring becuase the boots not only were heavy but took up 1/4 of my backpack! luckily i was able to look forward to the fact that once they were gone i would have a ton more room (room which i have been enjoying since we left the amazon...ahhhh).

anyway so after that breif stopover we dropped off some poeple at another of exploramas lodges, called ceiba tops. Explorama has 5 lodges - the deeper into the jungle they get the more rustic and more expensive they get. The first is Ceiba Tops - this is an airconditioned room, hot and cold water shower, pool - essentially a jungle resort. The next one is Explorama lodge (the one we stayed at) which is 30 min further. It has basiucally big thatch covered long houses with walls 3/4 of the way up to divide the huge area into rooms. Each room has open "windows" and the beds have mosquito nets around them. There is an adjoining bathroom but alas as is peruvian tradition, toilet paper goes into bins NOT the toilet. Showers are only cold/lukewarm - basically pumped from the river. There are walkways from teh sleeping area to the hammock area --> dining area --> out to the boat dock and further is a bar/gift shop place. At night it is lit with kerosine lamps. The next one in (another ? 45min - 1 hr) is Exploronapa - basically the same but with outhouses without covering. I went to the bathroom once there (while visiting) and promptly got a mosquito bite on my bum...not nice! Then is ACTS which i think is close by exploronapa but is a research place in the forest. If I remember correctly both ACTS and the fifth one - Explorotambo consists of being deep in the forest sleeeping on a raisied platform with only a mosquito netting - eep!

All right. So we got to explorama lodge and were like - ok now what?? we had been moving so much the past couple of days it was weird not to do anything. we played cards (i beat mike, although he will never admit it - hehe) After a buffet lunch we went for a hike in the jungle with Renillo. We went for about 2 hrs and i was determined NOT TO BE BITEN by mosquitos...so while mike gallavanted i shvizted in my plastic rain coat - ergh! After our hike we hung out at the hammocks and we checked out the resident birds. One, a parrot, jumped around and charged towards us a couple of times - funny! Another one, a green ?parrot decided to befriend mike and was the first of several wild animals to jump all over mike. i took around 60 pictures! first it went on his shoulder, then his arm and leg...after a while mike was like ok get off! it promptly pooed on him (and the pants i had JUST cleaned!!) and flew away. I decided to call the parrots peuncy and peggy. the colourful bird was peuncy and the green one peggy. Only my family will get this...ok so my mom growing up had 2 friends peuncy and peggy. Peuncy was mischeivious and peggy was essentially her side kick who got into treouble too. For instance, there was the time they (and my mom back in her childhood - sorry mom!) decided to roll a paper "cigarette", put it in my mom~´s uncles mouth while sleeping and light it to see what would happen. Another classic...peuncy decided it would be a great idea to roll down a hill in a barrel. peggy was elected to go first and unfortunately they realized the barrel had no breaks and it went across roads/traffic with increasing speed. So yes - the parrots were Peuncy and Peggy:D

That night we went on a night boat ride. It was sooooo scary! i was imagining all these animals coming out to eat me and mike then decided HE should paddle instead of Renillo and while he mostly did well also managed to crash us into a bush during which i screamed miiiike and the boat behind us with Sintia heard us and started laughing:D We made it through alive and it was really beautiful and peaceful...totally quiet except for the myriad of wildlife. Renillo called for a pýgmy owl and it follwed us down stream. We also talked to Renillo about his expereinces gowing up which was very interesting. He told us about how a lot of the Amazon lifestyle is being lost because the younger genereation is iunterested in electronics, the modern life instead of the history. He told us about the concept of shamans - medicine men (white shamans who heal) and witch doctors (black shamans) who cast spells essentially. We got back and went to sleep.

The second day we woke up early to go birdwatching at 0600. It was awesome! There were TONS of birds. We went out on a speedboat with Renillo and a driver. They called for the birds and they came flocking. it wwas funny - they all have names like white headed yellow bodied fly hawker...or something like that:P After breakfast we continued back in our boat up the amazon and visited a house where mike held a sloth (i was convinced they had fleas) and i took tons of pictures. the sloths are nocturnal so during the day they move super slowly and are all sleepy. they are cuddly like teddy bears. we made our way then to a reptile "farm" where mike held a baby caiman (alligator type) and turtles. Once again i took picutres, convinced i would get salmonella if i touched them...! Finally we made it to a place called Monkey Island. This was mikes favourites. We got off the boat and a monkey came running up to us. i backed off but mike thought it was great! Soon Rosa, one of the red/brown monkeys came over and decided mike was her new boyfriend. she jumped up onto his back by his neck and didn~t come down for our entire time on the island. At one point mike had 3 monkeys on him! one even tried to knaw off hhis sandals...hehe. I think this is the problem of being a medical person...i knew too many reasons why i should be concerned about these animals...fleas, salmonella, rabies...oy. mike got tons of pictures...please believe i was there too! i was just BEHIND the camera:P

We went to Ceiba for lunch and a lovely heavenly shower. It had been several days between showers and CEiba had HOT water - AMAZING!!! We went for another hike and then headed back to Explorama for the evening. Much tea drinking ensued.



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