Just finished breakfast. 3 cups of coca tea. Ready to go.
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Into the amazon
Just finished breakfast. 3 cups of coca tea. Ready to go.
Sent from my iPhone
Tour of Iquitos
11.09.2013 - 10.11.2013 87 °F
Day 9 Sat Ok I'm starting this a second time as I had to turn it off for the plane ride from Iquitos to Lima and I guess I didn't hit the save button properly. We got up earlythis morning so we enjoy our last few hours in Iquitos. We finished the packing and went up to the lounge deck to have coffee and view the happenings on the river front. Soon we were joined by another early riser, Diane. Diane and her husband have a home in Chicago, Lake Geneva and theTurks-Caicos, where they spend most of there time. We talked about the next part of our trip, Machu Picchu. She said that they had altitude sickness pills in preparation. I hadn't thought of that... Oh oh. We talked to another couple from Kansas, Rich and Allysa, that had been there already and weren't continue with us. They said that you should stay away from alcohol and drink plenty of water. Oh oh again. No alcohol? We're on vacation! Ok, I guess for a couple of days although I was getting partial to Pisco sours (a popular local drink). They said to drink lots of water and just take it easy for the first day. None of the rest of this group as far as I can tell, are going to climb Huayna Picchu so we may be on our own (as far as familiar faces goes). Cheryl, the head of the Shedd group, said her friend just returned from Machu Picchu and had done the climb. She said her friend is terrified of heights but got through the climb by facing the side of the mountain when she got to the narrow paths. We'll see. A little nervous about the climb itself as we were huffing and puffing up the 50 or so steps from the dock to the street level. We were loaded on a bus for tour of Iquitos. The people were so friendly. Even the construction workers who were working on replacing a street, stopped to wave. They were proud of their heritage. The city square had a statue comemorating their independance from Spain. July 28 and I forgot the year. This ties in with that spbutecial Peruviandish we had for lunch of the mashed potatoes wrapped around tuna, avocado and mayo. We had lunch at a very upscale hotel. Hotel Dorado. I had shaved heart of palm and avocado salad and a fish with a salsa mixture on top wrapped in a leaf of somekind and cooked over a fire. There was also plaintain. For dessert I had passion fruit mousse. I didn't care for the plantain but everythiing else was delicious. After lunch we headed for the airport for our trip to Lima. once in the airport we checked in and got our tickets. The attendant told us gate one. That was funny since there was only one gate. We said our good byes to Dennis, our guide, inviting him up to Northern Wisconsin to experience snow and cold and we'll do the guiding. When our plane was ready to board, they lined us up, rows 1-12, 13-24, and so on. We then proceeded out of the terminal, walked across the tarmac and climbed the stairs to the plane. I haven't boarded a plane from the tarmac in years. As I'm writing this there was some comotion 3 seats behind us. Appears that an elderly man was having a seizure. An attendant got on the intercom and asked if there was a doctor on board. Two in our group, Kathy and Rich are doctors. Kathy was in the seat in front so Rich let her handle the emergency. They gave him some oxygen and he appears better. We'll be landing soon so help is on the way. We've arrived at our hotel which was across the street from the airport. Costa del Sol Ramada. Nice but paperthin walls. I hope George and Susan next door, don't snore. Dinner at 7 and probably to bed as it's wakeup call at 6:15 and back to the airport for a flight to Cusco. Update on the laptop. Turns out not to be the cord afterall. Bad news is that it seems to be the computer itself. We think it got moisture from the airconditioner condensation. The first 4 days will have to wait till has can get the info out the hard drive.
Day 8 last day We got up early and had coffee on the lounge deck. There we got some internet service so I was finally able to upload my blogs. Pictures and the first few days are still to come as I haven't downloaded the pictures and the first few days of blogs are still unacsessable on my laptop. We were stopped at the village of Nauta which is close to the confluence of the Maranon River, the one we're currently on and the Ukayalli River which is the locals name for the Amazon. Nauta is the only the last accessible village by road from Equitos. From this point on any traffic of any kind is done by boat. We did not enter this village but there was a lot of activity at the docks. The locals bring their fish, rice, produce to this point to be shipped on to Equitos. They had a Shanty town that had developed from the natives moving into town. It's hard to imagine that there are more than one levels of poor. We took the skiffs down to an area where an environmental ecologist was teaching the locals some uses for the vegetation and animals such as there is a type of frog that's edible after it's been cooked. He was going to build an ecology center in this area but he died on a trip to the states. A couple of local native guides took us through the jungle to find what they could find for local fauna. We saw the tiny spotted tree frog, a poison dart frog (pretty red) a tarantula, and a couple of different types of lizards. Surprisingly there were no mosquitos. As many of you know, it doesn't matter what time of day it is in the northwoods, there are going to be mosquitos. We came to to a tree that has sap that is iodine. Another tree, a ficus, has sap that the natives drink once every 6 months to get rid of any parasites they may have. It's very bitter but they put it in juice to drink. It's crucial that the this sap is dispensed in a quantity that pertains to the weight of the person. If too much is given it'll kill the person. Our guide, Ucil said his aunt in Iquitos died of liver fai.ure from this. We came upon this huge tree in the jungle. I think they said it was a . It was a sacred tree to the locals. To describe it I remember a movie and I'm not sure if it was Avitar, but the movie I'm thinking of had a tree that looked like this. it had these huge flat roots extending away from the base. It's circumference would remind you of the redwoods in California. It rose above the rest of the jungle canopy. It was easy to see why they would consider it sacred. We returned to the boat and after showers went up to the lounge as we came upon the confluence of the Maranon and the Ucayalli Rivers. The Ucayalli River is called the canoe tipping river because it's so wide that when a wind kicks up it overturns the canoes. Lunch had more Peruvian dishes but the one that was mmost prominant was acowa (probably mispelled). This was yellow mashed potatoes wrapped around tuna and avacados with mayonaise. they decorated the top very prettily with radishs and a stripe of mayonaise. This dish is made especially on July 28th. Something to do with soldiers coming to help them. Sorry, I didn't get all of the details as I was busy eating it. Then nap and time used to contine ths blog. I'm drinking a tea made out of the cocoa leaf and it isn't hot chocolate. The natives chew the cocoa leaf to give them stamina inn the fields. I'm kinda looking for some stamina myself as this is the last day of the Amazon portion of our vacation. Have to pack as there won't be any time the rest of the day Took an evening cruise as a last remembrance of our experience on the Amazon. The natives came out to the shoreline and waved at us as if they knew that this was our last night. The sunset was memerable in it's intensity. I commented that I wondered if we'd ever come back here. The answer was a deffinate yes. We were entertained again by the crewwith a mixture of music but mostly Peruvian. Our farewell dinner included a birthday cellebration to Susan complete with singing waiters and lighted candles. The entire crew of the Amazonia was brought out to be recognized. They each came around and shook each passenger's hand and/or hugged them. The captain gave a speech which was translated to show his gratitude in coming aboard his boat. He then took off running as we were coming to port in Iquitos. Dennis will be accompanying us to Machu Picchu but the naturalists will be staying with the boat for the next cruise.
Day7 Began the day with coffee on the observation deck. Everybody was trying to get emails or texts as we now had weak service. The boat had turned around and started it's trip back to Iquitos. . Before I turned in last night I stepped outside to lsten to the night sounds as we were parked next to the shore as we had every night before. As I stood there a chunk of the shoreline broke off and fellinto the river with a crash scaring me and a bunch of wild dogs as they started quite the disturbance with their barking. We had a later beginning to our morning because the guides had to find a place for us to do our kayaking. Before we did that however, we had a talk about the native Shaman, (medicine man) One of the guides, Ucil had actually studied to be a Shaman but one ofthe requirements was that during the 7 or so years of training there could be no sex. Well that was too much to ask of this young man. He said that to be a Shaman you have to be chosen by a Shaman and you have to possess 'the gift'. He said that the Shaman can look at a baby and know if this child is Shamon material. Girls can become Shamaness's but only if they're chosen by the Shaman. We learned the difference between a Shaman and a witchdoctor is that a Shaman is to heal and a witchdoctor is to bring on death and mayhem. After a Shaman's training he lives a normal life with a family and crops to tend, many of which are used in his medicine making. We are going to visit a Shaman this afternoon. Maester Juan. We took the skiffs up a tributary where the local natives where fishing. They had already delivered our kayaks to the point where we were puting in. This was Supuena Creek. This is Hans and my first kayaking experience so I wasn't sure how we'd do. They had us step in the kayaks from the skiff, so far so good. We began the 1 1/2 hr trip down to the mouth of the creek. It was quite hot so we kind of hugged the shoreline to get whatever shade was available. Didn't seem to help much as everybody was ringing wet by the end. We saw a few villages but the only wildlife to speak of was a green lizard sunning himself on the branchof a tree. He was pretty big because we could see him clearly from a distance. Came back and had another Peruvian lunch and then a power nap. Later in the afternoon we took an hour walk through the jungle to see the giant lillies. They had a fascinating way of polinization. Beetles would enter the huge flower for the nectar. The flower would close up for a period of time with the beetle trapped inside. It would then re-open in the morning releasing the beetle so it could do the same thing to another flower. The lilly pad itself was probably 4 ft in diameter. It has been proven that one of these pads can hold a 1 yr old child. We then got back in the skiffs and traveled to a village called San Jose where we were going to talk to the Shaman. The local children came to greet us as we entered the village. The 'mayor' or designated head of the village also greeted us and exlained a bit about the village and especially their water collection tanks consisting of two tanks, one above the other. the water is pumped from the river to the top tank which filters into the lower tan. From there it goes through a sand filtration and then to the spigot where all of the village can fill up their containers. Each family has to pay $2 per month for this service. We continued on to the Shaman. His name is Maester Juan. He was 74 years old. We were able to ask him questions about his shamanism. He also had pop bottle samples of medicines. The main medicine the Shamans drink to conect to the spirits is ayahuasca. He drinks it twice a week, Wednesdays and Fridays as those two days the spirits are the most accessible. Its very strong stuff which brings on the shakes, vomiting, hullucinations. It' made of ingredients from the trees and plants. It's believed that when a person dies theybecome a tree. So when the shaman uses ingredients from these trees he's looking for guidance from the ancesters. We were allowed to smell it but not drink it. It smelled like there was molasses in it. He uses tobacco to ward off evil, sickness and any other bad maladies. He performed this on all of us. He sang in his native language calling on the spirits. He then inhaled a fat cigarette and blew smoke into our hair and we were to use our hands to wave the smoke all over our bodies, then he blew smoke into our upturned hands and we did the same thing while we had our eyes closed and were meditating. I almost started coughing knew this wasn't proper so had to work at holding it back. During the ceremony there was some lightning in the distance even though the sun was making a spectacular with abeautiful exit with a beautiful glow in the huge billowy clouds. Right at the end of the ceremony came a clap of thunder. Seemed appropriate. The natives also make there own spirits. Agua diente (fire water) and cachasa (moonshine) were two of the alcolic beverages they made. It was getting dark as we began our way back to the skiffs. The local people had there wares ready for our purchase. There handmade items ranged from beaded jewelry to some exquisite carvings of the local animals. There were hand woven baskets with designs of the local birds. Once it got dark the mosquitos came out. The attacked every unprotected part of our bodies. I'm not sure how the locals did it but they didn't seem to be affected by them. We returned to the boat and after showers we were entertained by the crew with a new variety of music. I wish I could have taped their Peruvian version of Hey Jude and also how they transitioned into Santana's Oyacomova( I think I really butchered that spelling.). Dinner than up to the lecture room where Dr. Leslie had some slides of her experiences during her work in Guyana. The president of Guyana even came to there camp and spent a night. He was amazed that a young lady such as Dr. Leslie was living for months in a place like this. By this time we were falling asleep so there was no staying awake to party tonight.
Day 6 We got a wakeup call at 6:30, had breakfast and hit the roa. Today we were going to check out a couple of the conservation stations along with whatever wildlife we may come upon. We came upon some Indian fisherman in a newly flooded river. They were netting catfish that they put in their fishpens until they had enough to float their fishpens to market. The main fish that they had was the walking catfish. It's pectral fins are what gives it it's name as it can crawl on land when its habit has dried up. This new river was being patroled by black collered hawks and vultures for any floating free lunches. We made a pitstop at the first ranger stationn which consite of a thatched, screened in room on stilts. As we entered, we could seea number of hammocks and bedrolls on the floor. These were some of the locals who came to volunteer to help with the conservation projects and in return they can get some of the minnows of the arcana that they could then sell to thecommercial market. That is the only payment they will receive. There were two tubs with a bunch of baby yellow spotted turtles. They had collected the eggs in the wild and buried them in a garden size patch of sand. After 45 days (I think) they will hatch. They were hatching while we were there. There were siamese twins that were connected at the foot. There was an albino turtle that had been hatched yesterday. We were told that this one would go to an aquarium. There were arwanwa minnows that would be used for researc as well as given to the vollunteers as pmt. We took a hike through the jungle before lunch to see what we could see. There was a huge frog on the path that the guide wasn't too anxious to pickup. He did and I was able to get a picture. The howler monkeys were very loud even though we were told they were miles away. There were some huge ficus trees that had many different roots. This was needed as the soil in the Amazon isn't very deep so it has to spread out inorder to get a good hold. We were given a chance to go swimming in the Amazon before lunch at CP2 conservation but only two people went. With having seen the critterst hat came out of there, I chickened out. Had a good lunch that the guides brought with us and thenn started our trip back. We were hoping to see an anaconda but no luck. We did see a family of howler monkeys, with the babies riding on the backs of their mothers. Once back at the boat we took a break til 4:30. Then we were given a cooking lesson in how to make juani a dish that is served to guests. The ingrediants were placed in something like banana leaves, tied and cooked in a pot of salted water. Hans helped to assemble one of these packages. I said that's the first time he's cooked in the 40 years I've known him. The crew's band played for us again before dinner. I found out that this band is trying to do a recording of there music. I hope they do, I'd buy it. Trying to upload this now.