|When I arrived in Iquitos on Friday with my fellow boat travelers, I was without a plan. I thought about continuing on to Tarapoto, but the idea of spending another night on a boat was unbearable. I hung out with my friends for a few days in Iquitos, staying in Hostal Charapas and eating food that wasn´t rice milk. They were all parting ways in directions I´ve already been, so I went out and signed up for a 3-day jungle trek.
Luchi picked me up at my hostel at 8 AM on Monday. We walked over to nice hotel to pick up a Peruvian couple and their pre-teen daughter. We hopped in a couple mototaxis to the port, where we boarded a slow boat down the Amazon. As soon as we left Iquitos, we saw a couple river dolphins having breakfast. We made a stop half-way at a little tribal village. Pretty sure its just a tourist site. There are only about ten people and they sell bracelets and earings to the suckers that get taken there on jungle treks. But they put on a little dance and had us join in. Then asked for a tip. Lame.
From there, we went on to Tucan Lodge. I had a private room with a cute little porch. It was really quite lovely. After a lunch of impossibly hard to eat but delicious baby catfish, we all went on a flora hike. Luchi specialized in plant life and showed us all kinds of cool jungley things including giant lilypads and ´sensitive´ ferns. When you touched them, the fronds shriveled up. I´m not sure how that´s a defense mechanism, but it was still super cool.
That night, we went hunting for turantulas. The process was basically this. Luchi would poke a stick down in a little hole to piss off a turantula. The turantula would run out and we would chase it with our flashlights. It would freeze in the spotlight, and then our fearless guide would pick it up. Let me note that these turantulas were poisonous. Deadly. So nauturally, Luchi suggested we hold the buggers. Ummm, no thanks! But then that little pre-teen girl said sure, and I couldn´t be shown up by a child. I now guide your attention to the photo above. That is a turantula in my hands.
Later, my guide invited me to a carnival celebration in the nearest town. The family who owned the lodge took us there in their boat. It was about an hour downriver on the Amazon. I was a bit disappointed when we sat down in a circle in a small room with a small band. I couldn´t believe people boat for an hour to see that. But then all these crossdressers in costumes stormed into the room and started doing some crazy dances. Of course at some point they pulled the only gringa into the mess. Hence the picture of me laughing my ass off and dancing around with a man in a tiny pink skirt.
The next morning, we went to an animal sactuary. I met a spider monkey that took well to my head. I also met a sloth, a parrot (that knew to call me gringa), a tucan, a prehistoric turtle, a couple macaws, a bunch of other monkeys, and an anaconda. It was cool to see all those animals, but it kind of seemed like a zoo. I didn´t really see any animals, except turantulas and mosquitos, in their natural habitat during my jungle trek. After the sanctuary, we swam in the Amazon. According to my guide, if you touch the Amazon you gain one year of life, but if you swim in the Amazon you gain seven years. I made sure to get in and out a couple times, just in case it doubles the years.
The Peruvian family had to return Tuesday afternoon, so the guide and I sent them off in another boat, and the two of us continued on to a more isolated jungle town. We stayed the night with a large family in an open-air house. My guide was a bit of a Debbie Downer from this point on. He kept telling me how he wanted to quit his job and blah blah blah. The last 24 hours were pretty boring. And then I returned to Iquitos.