THIS IS THE SECOND IN A SERIES OF E-MAILS SENT TO VARIOUS PEOPLE DURING A JOURNEY TO PERU IN APRIL, 2007. THIS ONE WAS DATED APRIL 13
THEY WERE GENERALLY COMPOSED QUICKLY WITHOUT MUCH EDITING OR SPELLCHECKING, AND I’VE LEFT THEM AS IS TO LEAVE THE UNEXPURGATED FLAVOR.
THE PICTURES ARE OF MASKS WE COLLECTED ALONG THE WAY. WE DECIDED TO OPEN AN ON-LINE MASK BUSINESS DURING THIS TRIP, AND THESE WILL BE AMONG OUR FIRST PRODUCTS IF WE CAN BEAR TO PART WITH THEM.
Preface #1–This is a bit long because of the long time away from electronics, but what the hell, you can always push delete.
Preface #2–all hail to Rachel WWW.FERNCROFTTRAVEL.COM–book with her or risk a lousy trip. We choose to let her book us fantastic trips.
Mistah Kurtz, he still dead . . .
The Canadian province of Ontario is said to hold 25% of the planet’s fresh water. That’s hard for us to credit after having seen part of this vast swamp that links a throng of each-one-bigger-than-the-last rivers, all converging in northeast Peru at a point 6 km (3.6 mi) bank to bank that forms the beginning of the Amazon river, which is purported to be 30+ miles wide by the time it gets to the Atlantic.
our journey to the mucho agua took us first to a memorable intersection between Sean and Erin’s house and the airport where we saw 1) a 12-year-old juggling four apples; 2) a guy selling maps of the country 3) a twenty-something guy beating on a drum and playing pan pipes. granted, they were all trying to make a buck between green lights, but it beats a cardboard “God Bless Anything Helps” cardboard signs. then we went to an airport where no one asked for picture I.d. We were almost too stunned to board the flight. From Lima, we flew to iquitos, a nasty little town of 500, 000 on the banks of one of the amazon tributaries. It’s named after an extinct tribe and is home to a number of military bases, owing to its proximity to the Colombian and Brazilian boarders. We did have some good food there during our one night stand as well as some productive shopping. The food involved some new dishes–alligator chicharrones, heart of palm in the shape of fettuccine, and yucca/ The shopping involved some items which may be illegal to import and about which it’s probably best not to leave an e-mail trail.
The following day we met Rey (not Ray), our guide, who took us on a 1 1/2 hour drive to our big river embarkation point. The road was a nice tow-laner Through compelling evidence of slash-and-burn agriculture. It took 30 years to complete because successive administrations had broken their promises to get the job done. At Nauta, we boarded a nice boat, one of the kind the Thai’s call a long-tail because the propeller is mounted at the end of a 4-6 foot shaft, making it possible to tilt the motor, run the propeller shallow, and minimize vegetative entanglements. Our first destination was downstream to the aforementioned birth (not the headwaters) of the Amazon, but where the the Maranon and Ucayali rivers join to begin the Amazon proper. Then we headed upstream to our lodge, near the confluence of the Pacaya and Samiria Rivers and the “Reserve” or flora/fauna sanctuary from which the lodge takes its name. The lodge is a collection of thatched-roof, screened in bungalows, connected by board walkways, which are also covered by thatched roofs. The grounds are handsomely landscaped. Our room was comfortable. The water was running (though not heated); the toilet flushed; the beds were mosquito-netted; the food was plentiful and tasty. The next couple of days were a little like being inside the discovery channel where you get to participate instead of just watch. Here is an abridged list of what we encountered on our walks and boat rides.
1. Monkey-cup mushrooms–pink, convex-cupped fungus that are the “”shrooms” of psychedelic fame.
2. Pink and gray fresh-water dolphins. Many and lovely, jumping and playing and spouting. A legend aobut the pink ones will follow in another edition.
4. Sloths (cuter than you think)\
5. Capuccine monkeys
6. macaws (be sure to tell Lizzy) These were blue and gold and called CAL, CAL, CAL from the treetops.
7. A red-headed swimming iguana
8. Several tarantulas. One teased from his hole in the ground by Rey, two others on the ceiling of the thatch-roofed walkways.
There settlements along the river, of course, and the river is the only way to reach them. People in the villages have outlying “plantations” of bananas, papayas, and rice (they’ll plant the rice in the sediment left when the river drops from its flood stage in a couple of months. there is no flood control here, so the river is left to do all its riverene things.)