And by ‘jungle’ I do not mean life on the road with three kids (although it would be a perfectly applicable description of that as well). We left Huayocarri in the Sacred Valley after a little over one month there, and spent four days last week in the Peruvian Amazon checking out the nature and wildlife.
It’s amazing to me how amenable to crazy-sounding travel plans the kids have become and I’m definitely interested to know if it will make them more ‘flexible’ with plans when we get home. This time around, we told them the day held an early wake-up (always their least favorite news), a 40-minute flight (from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado), a two-ish hour boat ride up the Tambopata River from Puerto Maldonado (which itself is a 40-minute flight from Cusco), and then a 15-minute uphill hike to get to our lodge.
On the way to our lodge, lunch was served out of huge leaves similar to banana tree leaves:
While first reactions to our open-air rooms and the many bugs and creatures roaming about included some trepidation, we all had a great time and by the time we left, the kids asked to stay for four more nights (they told our guide that they were going to stay on with him after we left and then it was his turn for trepidation as they had definitely already worn him out).
Among the creatures we wanted to keep our distance from, the bullet ants (one pictured below) and army ants were out en force. This picture doesn’t do the size justice of a bullet ant…and we have been told their bite is quite painful so we stepped around them with care.
As Jim put it while we were en route, suffering is always at least a small part of going to the Amazon (setting expectations is always important), and we did have some moments of suffering (especially those of us who the mosquitoes find particularly sweet).
More than the suffering though, it was such a welcome shock to the system to be away from ‘real life’ even more than we have been all along on this trip. Our rooms had no windows (or walls for that matter) and being an eco-lodge, there was only electricity at certain times of the day. While the main lodge did have wifi, it was really poor, and we had actually decided beforehand that the kids wouldn’t bring their tablets, so we had very limited screen time and screen access while we were there.
The result was four days and four nights interacting only with each other, the other guests (we met visitors from Australia, the UK, China, New Zealand, and Texas), the jungle weather (huge rainstorms followed by intense sun) and exploring the vegetation and creatures all around us with our guide, Fernando.
We scaled a (TALL) tree (using the climbing technique known as ‘jumaring,’ click this link if you want to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8KRKWEMwyA), climbed an observation platform to watch the sunrise above the jungle canopy, kayaked in a torrential Amazon downpour (at which point Sean stated: “I think it’s fair to say that this day is one of the worst of my life,”) played soccer in the mud (once with galoshes on), and woke up at 4am to see macaws gather where they congregate to extract salt from a naturally occurring clay lick.
On one of our night hikes, Cecelia helped one of the guides find a tiger moth and we learned that there are over 11,000 known species and probably many more waiting to be discovered…so now, Cecelia is waiting to hear whether or not she found one of the new ones. If so, she’s decided it will be named either the “Cecelia” or “Bob.”
In this picture, the guide is showing Cecelia a tic-infested beetle. (Yes, yuck!, but still quite cool :))
We enjoyed our Amazon jaunt and definitely tired ourselves out! Other than the mosquito bites, we survived our jungle adventures unscathed and we were on to our next stop, Lima, to see the ocean (we’ve missed it since Uruguay) and eat some ceviche (for which Lima is known). More to come soon from Miraflores (our neighborhood in Lima).
Tchau for now.