Kaj made it to South America with all his luggage and flights intact. How do I get all the bad luck? We met on a plane in Cusco on our way to the jungle from Puerto Maldonado which is almost on the Bolivian border of Peru. Kaj didn´t recognise me at first, his excuse was that he was watching all the people get on the plane. I was however the 3rd person on the plane, so it was a crap excuse. He was instead taking delight watching a little bitty airline hostess struggling to put a large suitcase in the overhead lockers. No, he didn´t get up and offer to help.
On arrival in Puerto Maldonado we were taken to the office of our lodge company, and asked to remove anything from our luggage that we wouldn´t need. So, out came all our cold weather gear, since it was about 30C and extremely humid.
I was glad to be at sea level and breathing in a good amount of oxygen and my Cuscian altitude headache was slowly fading. Kaj however was really under the weather after being in the air for 27h, and hadn´t slept a wink. He was dreading the 45min bus trip to the river, and the successive 4h boat ride to the lodge.
The bus trip was an interesting experience. The road can´t really be called a road by our standards. It was a dirt track, barely wide enough for our bus with dodgy bridges and potholes big enough to swallow Mum´s new Hyundai Getz. It was muddy as it´s wet season here too, and I was worried at any moment the bus would get bogged and all the American tourists in their clean adventure gear were going to get real muddy while we all pushed the bus out of a former pothole – now a small lake.
But no, we make it intact to the boat departure, and it was a pleasant journey along the river. Kaj was even able to keep all his lunch intact, and the further upstream we went, the more bird life we saw.
Our lodge, Refugio Amazonas was a 16 room log cabin structure with a thatched roof. Our room had two beds (note to self: when in South America, don´t ask for a double room if you want to sleep with your partner. You require a matrimonial room) and one wall was completely open to the jungle. We were warned to keep our important documentation and any lollies in the safety deposit box as creatures sometimes enter the rooms while we sleep.
The only creatures we could tell that came in were the mosquitos. Not nearly as many as in Iquitos, but it did require us to sleep under mosquito nets. They´re not nearly as romantic as they look!
First night in both Kaj and I came down with gastro problems, and that had me totally out of action for the first day. The second day wasn´t much better. Kaj´s condition improved enough for him to take a jungle walk to a canopy tower 36m high where he sat watching macaws fly past.
3rd night we were transferred to the second lodge, the Tambopata Research Centre, which is a further 5h upstream. Although the boat ride was gruelling, upon arrival a family of 6 red howler monkeys greeted us as we hopped off the boat.
We observed the monkeys for about 2 minutes, when the big one came down from higher in the tree and stood above us and started to pee. He didn´t get me, but an American researcher was more lucky! Then, all the monkeys started to pee. It was raining monkey pee! We assumed they didn´t want us at the base of their tree, so we carried on to the lodge.
Every time we entered the jungle at this lodge we saw something spectacular. We saw so many monkey species, but the real highlight was visiting the macaw clay lick.
We needed to rise at 3:30am to get to the location before the birds did, and suddenly about 300 parrots and macaws descended on the location. They was so noisy, but their colours were amazing.
Not many ate clay that morning, most of them just sat in the trees like a bunch of women gossiping.
We´re now in Ollantaytambo again on our gourmet food tour, and will write more when we have a moment.
Thanks for all the comments – so nice to be loved!
If anyone is reading my posts, please send me a comment. I´m feeling unloved. You just click on the little comments link at the bottom of the article.
The last 3 days I´ve been in the area famous for Machu Picchu, which is as amazing as it´s described. It was the one area I wasn´t looking forward to visiting because it´s so touristy, but it was really worth the visit.
It´s up high in the mountains, and although Machu Picchu itself is a little lower in altitude, I´m in Cusco at the moment and it´s 3,000m above sea level, and I´ve had a nasty headache all night. I think it´s a touch of altitude sickness. I have some tablets from my doctor to combat this, and so now I´ve taken them. They´re diuretics and they´re making me pee more than I knew I could.
This morning I meet up with Kaj as he´s flying into Cusco from Lima, and we´re heading into the jungle for 7 days. More mosquitos, humidity and cold water showers. Yay. I´ve bought a silly Peruvian hat to meet him with, and some rainbow gay gloves too. It´s cold enough to wear these items in Cusco! See the hat on the right – well mine is a bit more colourful than this!
Our first day into the area was in a charming town hardly anyone goes to called Ollantaytambo. Coral and I both really loved this town. We walked into the Plaza de Armas for dinner and found a little restaurant run by a couple. After we´d ordered the man walked out of the restaurant with a small animal that looked like a baby wombat. It was a satoni. I can´t find any images of this on the web, so it´s great we took lots of pics. It was only two months old, and Coral and I cuddled it the whole time we were at the restaurant. It was cold, so loved cuddles!
We took a train from here 1.5h to the town of Aguas Calientés which is also known as Machu Picchu town. We stayed at a cute hostel there called Rupa Wasi which was fantastic with the exception of the massive steps to get up to the hostel. We only did the steps twice. This hostel only had 4 rooms, so we had a lot of personal attention. A nice boy from the hostel named Orlando picked us up at the train station and carried all our bags to the hostel, including up the stairs. This was great because Coral and I could barely make it up the stairs. He got a big tip when he also brought our luggage back to the train station next day for our departure!
From Aguas Calientés it´s a 30min bus ride to Machu Picchu, which I was really worried about because of the switchbacks. I was certain I was going to see my desayuno (breakfast) again. On the right is a pic of the road from the top of the mountain. Luckily the drivers go really slow around the corners and I didn´t have anything to worry about.
First day in Machu Picchu we explored the main ruins and marveled at the architecture. The Peruvian governement are doing a fair bit of restoration too, so there are a couple of buildings that have thatches roofs using the original stone structure.
There are sooo many llamas here. Heaps. I thought we´d be lucky to see them, but no, they´re all over the ruins. In fact, I believe it´s how the grass stays nicely trimmed as they´re great lawn mowers. We were lucky enough to watch a baby llama frolicking with it´s mum, it was only 2 days old and snowy white. The mum was trying to coax it up some steps, but the baby just wouldn´t go.
Second day at the ruins Coral and I took a long walk up to the solar gate which is a 2 hour uphill walk on rocky paths. We also happened to take this walk in the rain, so had to go slowly because the path was trecherous. Once we got to the top the views would have been gorgeous if it wasn´t for all the cloud cover. All we could see in all directions was white fluffy cloud, but the walk itself was lovely. It was hard though, we ascended 1000ft during the walk, and I even took a pic of the sign to prove I´d been there!
On the way back downhill the cloud began to lift and we enjoyed great glimpses of the whole of Machu Picchu. It looked spectacular from the height we were at. This pic is similar to the occasional views through cloud cover we recieved.
I got great joy in telling hikers on the way down how far they were, as there is no signage or information telling you where you are on the track. I told one couple they were about one sixteenth of the way, and the first part of the track are hideously steep steps. I referred to them as a ladder, not steps at all. I also met the first Australians I´d met in South America on this track, one from the Gold Coast and two from Canberra. The Canberran couple said that being from Cairns I should be able to handle this humidity… it was about 10C and I´m shivering. There was NO WAY I could feel any humidity!
The train trip back to Cusco is 5 hours, and was beautiful because you get a slow look through villages and ruins on the sides of mountains. The villages are particularly interesting because people are dressed funny, and they wear amazingly colourful clothes for farmers. The ladies have a big backpack rug thing that they carry everything in; maize, coca leaves, straw, children.
Well off to the airport now to fly out to Puerto Maldonado. Won´t be near a computer for a week.
Today, I believe it’s Sunday, is our last day in Northern Peru, which is sad because the last 3 days have been great. This is an area of Peru few turistas visit, which made it feel a little exclusive. The people have been much friendlier, they still gawk at us but don’t run after us poking our arms to buy their crappy souvenirs.
We’re currently in Trujillo, known as La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera, (The City of Eternal Spring), because of its very sunny and supposedly pleasant weather year-round. It’s 15C right now, and I’m not sure how any self-respecting tropical girl could considerthat pleasant. Amazingly, this is Latitide 8 and Cairns is Latitude 17, so 15C in summer is rather strange to me so much closer to the equator than Cairns.
Trujillo is the most important economic center of northern Peru and an inland commercial and transport centre for the surrounding farmland. In 1800, the city of Trujillo greatly expanded due to extensive irrigated agriculture, fueled primarily by the sugarcane industry. Today asparagus, rice and shoes are the area’s main products. Among the internationally known products of Trujillo, asparagus is exported to neighboring countries, Europe and the United States. The areas around Trujillo are among the largest exporters of white asparagus in the world.
This morning we went to the Moche ruins of Huaca del Sol y Huaca de la Luna (Temples of the Sun and the Moon). The Moche people are pre-Incan, and the two temples stand in front of a white hill. The Huaca de la Luna, though it is the smaller of the two huacas at the site, yields the most archaeological information. The Huaca del Sol was partially destroyed and looted by the Spanish in the 17th century, while the Huaca de la Luna was left relatively untouched.
We didn’t go into the Huaca del Sol, as it is not open for entry. The Huaca de la Luna was spectacular, especially all the vibrant wall murals. Coral and I really enjoyed this place.
We also visited a great ancient city today called Chan Chan. It’s been one of the great highlights of the trip so far. Chan Chan is the largest Pre-Columbian city in South America, and covers 20 km² of adobe brick mud city.
It was founded by the Chimor people in 850AD, who eventually left the city when they were conquered by the Incas in 1470AD. It is believed that 30,000 people lived in the city.
There are 10 separate sections to the city, which are refered to as citadels. They had all sorts of rooms for burial chambers, temples, plazas, water supplies and houses. Each of the 10 have huge walls on the exterior, and the construction is amazing.
They first used adobe brick, which seemed to be made of mud/clay, with small stones and sometimes feathers and straw. Then, the walls are all rendered to make them smooth. This rendering alone must have been a massive job – it costs a fortune to render a house today because of the time it takes! Little holes were also left in various parts of the wall to act as expansion joints in times of eathquakes, which are reasonably common here.
After the rendering lots of intricate designs were carved onto the walls. Because the city is just 1500m from the beach, the styles carved are predictable. Lots of fish and birds, particularly pelicans, and other small mammals. Many of the walls are covered with a fishing net design, which looks stunning.
The city is severely threatened by erosion rain and flooding. We visited just one of the citadels, the Tschudi Complex, as this is the only one significantly excavated.
We’re off to Lima, and then Cusco tomorrow. Exploring the Sacred Valley, and then Machu Picchu.
I can´t tell you how nice it is to get off a plane and see my luggage on the baggage carousel, and so started my love affair with Chiclayo. Then, our tour guides had a plaque with our name on it. It was looking good.
The city is much more modern than Iquitos – maybe by about 100 years. No river canoes with bunches of plantain.. it was cars, shopping centres and normal looking people. Had a lovely church in the Plaza, like most cities in Peru.
Our guide was a charming 21 year old called Orlando, who knew way more than he should about history for a lad of his age. Our driver Luis didn´t speak any Inglés, but we still managed to converse gently.
The two boys were very good with us, and obviously quite experienced in their work. We never opened our own car door, or carried our own luggage. It was 5 star service.
We stayed at the Gran Hotel, which according to Orlando is the best hotel in Chiclayo. We had a security guard out the front, and two restaurants. But, like many things Peruvian, it´s just pretty on the outside. Our toilet had a flushing issue, the paint was cracked on the walls and things were a bit grubby in some places. Coral and I didn´t really mind though, we were really happy for a hot shower and a laundry service.
Next day we toured 3 of Chiclayo´s fantastic museums. One of them is Peru´s best museum according to Orlando, and was certainly the best museum I´ve ever been in.
The Lords of Sipán are chiefs of a city which are assumed to by dynastical of the Moche people, a civilation which is pre-Inca. The first Lord´s tomb is the richest burial site discovered in the Western Hemisphere and the site was just a few miles east of the Chiclayo.
The Lords were buried with amazing stuff, and tonnes of it! Finely crafted gold artifacts and ceramics recovered from these tombs are display at the Museum of the Royal Tombs, which is the first museum we visited in Chiclayo.
The second museum was the showstopper though, The Museum of Sican. The three-story, six-million-dollar museum, contains by far the greatest intact discovery of gold artifacts in the Americas, is shaped like the pre-Columbian pyramid under which Peruvian archaeologists discovered this amazing tomb in 1987. No steps, just ramps!
This museum initially made me quite nervous because you cannot take cameras or bags into the museum, and there was no way I was locking into the car, since it´s not insured in a locked car. They have a checking room, but that made me nervous too. The theory is they don´t want people photographing the security installations, and if you do manage to break into an exhibit, they don´t want you carting it out in a bag. We were also checked over for weapons by two security guards.
It was mostly very dark inside, all the walls are painted black and the lights are focussed on each piece.
Descending through the galleries, we were able to see all the objects the Lords were buried with in the same sequence as the archeologists did. The archeologists did a fantastic job of piecing everything together too, because many of the works required significant restoration.
There were hammered-gold sheets that cradled the lord’s head and rested on his eyes, nose, mouth and chin: bracelets strung with hundreds of turquoise, shell, and gold beads; a gold-and-silver scepter depieting a warrior and his nude prisoner; gold-and silver backflaps (sheets the Moche suspended from the back of their belts) inlaid with shell and semiprecious stones, depicting a figure with a large, ganged mouth holding a human head by the hair and a tumi, a sacrificial knife. Each object or jewel displays exquisite artistry and craftsmanship. Here are some things we saw:
Of course, these aren’t my photos, since I couldn’t take a camera in.
The museum is is also a mausoleum. Both Lord’s remains, as well as those of two other excavated figures – an ancestor of the lord and a high priest – are in a wooden coffin as the final exhibit. The skeletons are surrounded by ceramics found in their tombs.
What is amazing is that the later skeleton is in worse condition than the earlier one. The later Lord also got lots more treasures in his grave. It is believed that as the civilation became more advanced, they also carried around the Lord a lot more, and he needed to do very little exercise. This meant that his bones weren´t as strong, and they´ve been crushed over time.
The greatst thing about being in the jungle is undoubtedly the wildlife spotting. This is especially great when you´re not doing something where you fear for your life. I enjoyed the boat trips the best where we explored the river in a small motorboat (40 HP engine) with a motorista and a guide.
Getting into the boats is a little tricky, because you must step very carefully from a precarious jetty. These jettys have a long runway because the river rises so much during the wet season, so you step into the boat from a ramp wherever the water meets the jetty.
At Jacamar Lodge, the jetty is now a little shorter. On my 3rd day in the jungle my motorista Jose and my guide Nataly and I were going to head upstream into a reserve which has no inhabitants. This is the last remaining habitat for the endangered Red Uakari monkey, and I was hopeful we might catch a glimpse of some playing in trees. As I went to step onto the boat however, I fell through the jetty after stepping precicely on a piece of rotten wood. As I was hitting the water, all I could think of were anacondas. I did a contorted barrell roll into the boat, and thankfully only got one leg saturated. We never saw the monkeys.
This day wasn´t all unlucky though, as I was able to watch a rosato delfin (pink dolphin) frolicking in front of the lodge for about an hour. The picture here is a baby pink dolphin, and although I didn´t take this pic I thought you might like to see that I´m not pulling everyone´s leg, pink dolphins really do exist.
We saw so many great animals. In the mammal category, we saw a 3-toed sloth, a group of titi monkeys, 5 pygmy marmosets (smallest monkey in the Amazon) and 15 squirrel monkeys. Bird life was prolific, there there´s too many to list here. We´d see 20 – 50 different species each time we hit the water. My favourites were the yellow ridged toucan, blue and gold macaws, the variety of woodpeckers and parrots.
The most awful thing that happened to me was also at Jacamar Lodge, where I was lost in the jungle for 5 hours with Jose and Nataly. We headed into the forest for a ´short hike´which seems amusing now. I´d become a bit fearful of being on the longer hikes because my malaria medication was in my lost luggage with my long-sleeved shirts. I was totally unprepared for the walls of mosquitos in my state, so I only went on the shorter hikes of 1 hour.
We had been exploring for about 1 hour when Jose and Nataly started conferencing in Spanish. This conferencing became more heated, and then they started looking around confused. We usually hiked on well hewn trails, and they couldn´t find the trail.
We were in a weird area where the humous was mostly dry leaf matter rather than the usual sloppy wet decaying humous we see in our rainforest. This leaf little was also about a foot deep, so it was a strange and difficult walk because I was always wondering what creatures lay under my gumboots as I trod through. You couldn´t see roots or vines either, so negotiating this part was a little tough. The trees were all very small and scattered, probably due to the lack of sunlight hitting the soil under all the leaf matter.
We turned around and retraced our steps, but couldn´t then find the trail we came from. Jose kept darting off into the depths of the jungle trying to locate the path while Nataly and I stood around and got eaten by mosquitos. They´re bearable while you´re walking, but everytime you stop they pounce, so to speak. I was constantly reapplying my insect repellent and it painfully burnt my skin.
After about 3 hours my water run out, and attempts to find the jungle water supply, agua lianos (water vine) didn´t work so well because they were all dry. At one point Nataly told me to sit on a big log and rest, and after checking it thoroughly for snakes, I took a seat. She ducked into the forest as well seeking the trail, and I started to cry softly to myself. I was so scared I wasn´t going to get out of this jungle, and equally frightened I´d have malaria and/or dengue fever. The mosquitos were really interested in my tears and increasingly interested in my eyeballs because they were wet, and so I had to toughen up really fast and not cry anymore. I certainly did not want any mosquitos biting my eyeballs! This was also cool because Nataly and Jose never got to see that I was upset.
We crossed a creek 3 times in the same place trying to find our way. The creek crossings are all frightening because the logs are mossy, wet and very slippery. On the first attempt of the creek, I fell in and my gumboot was submerged in a foot of mud. It took all three of us to pull me out of the mud, because it really grips your boots badly.
At 4 hours in Jose´s jungle ducking got a bit out of hand and we couldn´t find him. We didn´t respond to our calling, and we banged a machete on a buttress root to make a really loud noise but he didn´t bang back. Nataly and I decided to press on without him. Noise doesn´t travel very far in the jungle interior with so many trees and leaves to block the sound. Jose found us about 15 mins later, but he hadn´t found the trail.
I was so buggered. We´d been walking for ages in hot humid conditions with no water, and I was started to get quite dizzy. It was harder to negotiate roots, and my feet were so heavy that I kept tripping. I didn´t fall over, thank goodness, because there are big ass spines all over the forest floor. You also can´t reach out to steady yourself because there´s a good chance you´ll reach for a porcupine tree which are all over the forest much like our wait-a-while´s are.
Our primatologist Michael saved the day. Hís first research project is to mark 100 hectares behind the lodge in a grid format so they can study the primates living in each 100 sq. metre grid. He had cut just 1 km of trail, and we found one of these new trails. I was so relieved.
It took another 30 minutes to reach the lodge. I had big blisters over my big toes. I drank 2 litres of water, and took a very long cold shower. No hot water in the jungle.
And… I didn´t hike for the remainder of the trip. It didn´t matter though, the wildlife viewing on the water was much better!
I’ve just arrived from 8 days in the Amazon Jungle, a most amazing and terrifying experience.
We started our adventure in Iquitos, a city of 300,000 people that is incredibly remote, and where I felt very outside of my comfort zone. Iquitos is a 3rd world city, mostly because there are no connecting roads to it and the outside world. All things come by boat from Brazil… on a very long trip up the Amazon River.
In the whole time I was there, I saw only 10 cars. Everyone travels in motocars which is a motor bike, usually a Honda, with a carriage. They’re noisy, smelly and open air, and it’s generally accepted that people can rob you very easily from them. Despite us needing to take at least 15 trips on these things, I couldn’t get used to it. I feared for my life with each trip. Each trip costs between 1 or 3 nuevos solas. Denoted like S/1, with no dollar sign, this is about AU$0.40.
All the roads are one way in the inner ciudad, and there appears to be no road rules. Motocars and motor bikes park anywhere. They’re often 3 to a lane, with lots of beeping and overtaking. You’re painfully close to other people, there’s rubbish all over the streets, and potholes that could swallow most smart cars. It’s amazing, but there are no accidents.
Most people in Iquitos like in houses which have roofs thatched with a palm leaf, or extremely rusted corrugated iron. In perspective, Iquitos is on Latitiude 2, Cairns is on Latitude 17. So we’re close to the equator, and its stinking hot. Most people have no electricity, so no refrigeration, and no air conditioning. Sleeping is difficult. As a result, nobody spends time in their houses during the day, they’re outside trying to make money.
They sell all sorts of weird things, lots of jugo (juice) in all sorts of flavours, plantain cooked lots of ways, assorted fruits and cooked goodies. There are people everywhere, and they cross the road wherever, chickens and dogs run everywhere. Bananas line the sides of some streets, and every now and then there is corn kernels drying on the footpaths.
We left Iquitos on a fast motorboat, with a 150HP engine. The horse power is very important to Iquitians, they often refer to the strength of the motor with pride. This started a 2.5h boat ride to our lodge, Tahuayo Lodge. I became very well acquainted with the two men sitting next to me, Steven from Boston, who informed me it snowed the day he left, and Michael from Chicago who is the Director of Tahuayo’s Amazon Research Centre. He’s a very famous primatologist and has extensively studied juvenile primates.
The lodge was exactly like you might imagine a jungle lodge to be… lots of little huts with thatched roofs, all joined together by a series of crickety boardwalks. They’re on high stilts because the Amazon floods, and the waters rise dramatically peaking in March – much like our wet season at home.
Coral and I had one of the newer lodges built, this had two hammocks, a king sized bed, two single beds and a bathroom. All the beds are four posters, and have fine mosquito nets which is both romantic and absolutely necessary in the jungle. The toilets were flush and very modern, however we were told the lodge sewerage system doesn’t handle toilet paper very well, so there’s a bin next to the toilet for such deposits. It’s very strange to get used to this. In addition, the toilet bowl fills up really high with water, so high in fact if you’re wiping without thought, you may accidentally dunk your hand in the toilet water. The shower only has one tap, the cold water tap. Coral didn’t have a proper wash the whole time she was there, but since I didn’t have a change of clothes we didn’t notice each other’s stinkiness.
Every day we had three meals, which were basic but always adequate. We ate lots of weird Amazonian things like Yuca, which is like a sweet potato with less sweetness. It’s closest to our cassava and they have it with almost every meal. They’re keen on white meat, mostly chicken and fish, and lunch is a huge affair with soup, mains and dessert.
Other interesting food we ate was plantain cooked every which way; fried slices dusted with salt, boiled till soft, cut in half and fried slowly until spoogy, deep fried as chips. We see plantain at home too, it’s the big ass bananas that never go yellow, they’re cooked green. They’re sometimes called cooking bananas. Sweet bananas don’t play as big a role here, everyone grows and trades in plantain.
There were 3 activites every day, these were usually on the river in a motorboat or a canoe, or hiking through the jungle. The locations varied each time.
My favourite by far where the river activities because the wildlife spotting was far superior to the hiking experiences.
Hiking was also a pain because the walls of mosquitoes are thicker than you possibly could imagine. There are 100s swarming around you constantly, and the DEET insect repellent only works for about 30 mins while you’re sweating up a storm. It’s 35C, 80% humidity and no wind – so not sweating is impossible. There are so many interesting plants in the jungle, and the occasional insect, snake or frog that pops up. However everytime you stop the mosquitos land and bite, so you need to keep moving.
I unfortunately discovered I’m allergic to DEET. My skin turns bright red about 3 mins after I apply, and then starts to burn. I know when it’s wearing off because I get relief from the burn.
… to be continued.
Back from jungle, safe. Lots of things to report – no time to do so right now.
I have my luggage. Everything in it was stolen except my clothes and medications. I annoyed but not suprised.
Mad rush around Iquitos to find chargers and batteries for phone and camera. *grr*
Thanks to everyone who have been writing me encouraging comments. I´ve had to be discouraged about so far, and the first official “day” was an incredible disappointment.
First, it´s stinking hot here. If you think it´s hot and humid in Cairns, that´s nothing compared to Iquitos. It´s been 35C in the day, and 80% humidty. Being inside at all leaves you extremely sweaty, and outside you need to keep out of the sun, or risk being frito.
Some of you might have heard about about my luggage fiasco already from Kaj. This will be my 5th day without luggage, and while it´d be great to go and buy new things, it´s actually not that easy. I can find Tshirts without any problems, because any street hawker sells them. They have souvenir crap all over them, but I can live with that. I can buy socks here too. But everything else is impossible. Coral is a size 10 and she´s having problems! She couldn´t find a bra big enough to fit her, so I´m certainly having issues.
So, wearing the same bra for 5 days that gets entirely saturated with sweat is about as disgusting an experience as they come. Coupled with it taking FOREVER to dry, due to no dryers, and overactive humity, and you have a very discouraged Nicky. My pants are getting a bit whiffy too – they´re quite thick so I haven´t bothered. With this kind of humdity it´s a bad idea to wear them wet.
I´m going into the jungle tomorrow, and although I was considering staying in Iquitos until my luggage arrived I´ve decided that would mean I miss out on one the great experiences I´m looking forward too. Drying any of my clothes in the jungle is going to be a much greater drama than here, so I´m very worried.
I had also prepared to go into the jungle with no electricity by stocking up on camera batteries and memory cards. I have just one battery in my camera, and it might last two cards.
I only have one more day´s worth of malaria tablets with me too, the rest are packed in my luggage. I´ll need to buy a different type of malaria tab, the only one that is sold here, and it has lesser protection and nasty side effects like runny poo, nausea and yeast infections. Ick. Not looking forward to any of those. And the protection for malaria is nowhere near as good. *sigh* I´m getting sad thinking about all this again.
Today we went to La Isla de Maños and I was able to play with monkeys. Well, they sort of play with you. Wesaw 6 different types of monkeys, and they´re like kittens constantly playing and being rather mischievious. Amazingly intelligent critters, and really interactive. They use you like a tree to jump to places too.
The trip to Monkey Island was a 2h boat ride on an amazingly dodgy boat, but it floated and the driver waited for us without issue, so that was awesome.
After that we headed to an animal orphanage which was sad and exciting. Lots of theanimals had a sad story of how they got to the orphanage, and one monkey there was a trained pickpocket. We had to leave all of our belongings in a monkey proof house, and empty our pockets. We saw a jaguar, tapir, sloths and lots of butterflies and monkeys. A few macaws and parakeets, but not too much action on the close-up bird front yet.
The day really lifted my spirits, which had just about died, and I really hope my luggage comes in on the first plane to Iquitos tomorrow.
Special thanks goes to Kaj who rescued Coral´s luggage from Australia – and a savage complaint goes to Lan´s South American staff who are useless.
Got to Auckland about an hour late and things were looking up. Coral was waiting for me at th lounge, so I was pleased to see she too had arrived as we’d had no contact since getting off the bus from the hotel.
We headed to the transit lounge to inform them we’d arrived and get details of our next flight, but instead informed our plane was not leaving until 3am the next day and were given a form which had overnight accommodation in Auckland at the Centra Hotel, return airport transfers and lunch and dinner in the restaurant. Although we were less than impressed at another delay, we were relieved to have somewhere to rest properly.
Unfortunately it took 5 hours to discover our luggage would not be available to us in Auckland and we missed our free lunch.
Tired, hungry and a bit grotty we stumbled into our hotel to be pleasantly surprised that it was modern, comfortable and had hot chocolate.
I begged the hotel to let us have dinner early and we were treated to a big buffet dinner with some awesome New Zealand oysters and a huge array of desserts and cheeses.
We caught a 1am bus to the airport and we’re now waiting in a lengthy customs queue with 300 displaced passengers, many red eyes and shortening tempers.
Our connections to Lima and Iquitos are now cancelled and and we will be provided with overnight accommodation in Santiago. Hopefully too, our baggage will be available there, because you can only wear the same clothes for so long before others treat you like you’re a grot.
Despite losing a day in Iquitos I’m relatively upbeat because we were otherwise going to be spending 11 hours waiting in various airports and that’s now been replaced with 2 free hotel stays and food and phone calls included.
Coral has been quite stressed at times and says this has been a test of her patience. I’m doing most of the talking and negotiation with various authorities as she tends to get a bit aggressive when they’re useless or don’t know things. Compared to work stress, I’m coping really well.
We haven’t left the country yet but Coral and I have already encountered great difficulties.
Tomorrow morning we were supposed to fly at 10:45am from Sydney, Australia to Santiago, Chile with a quick stopover in Auckland, New Zealand. Unfortunately for us the plane is having issues, and our Sydney – Auckland leg was cancelled.
I was rescheduled onto an earlier Syd – Akl Qantas flight, leaving at an evil and ungodly hour of 7:35am, which means I have to be at the airport at 5:35am. I am immensely unhappy about this, however can live with it.
Coral however was scheduled on an Air New Zealand Syd – Akl flight which doesn’t leave Sydney until AFTER our flight was due to fly from Auckland to Santiago.
So… our day today consisted of the following:
It does indeed appear I may be leaving Australia at 7:35am. But at this stage, we’ll see.