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Welcome to the Jungle

July 17, 2013

It was an early start from Lima to the Amazon, which we actually later found out was the Madre de Dios (Mother of God) River. A branch of the Amazon, but not the big river itself. What I was reading as the Amazon River, was actually referring to the Amazon Rainforest. Still a pretty impressive sight.

We met for breakfast at 6 and learned that we’d been upgraded to first class. At the airport it seemed our luck had run out when our flight was delayed. We soon learned however that the flight’s scheduled first stop in Cusco had been canceled and we’d head directly to Puerto Maldonado, arriving a half hour earlier than expected. Graham and I had a moment of guilt thinking out our companions probably just then boarding in the UK, but we cheered our good luck.

At the airport we struck up a conversation with a man from Ottawa on his fifth visit to Peru. When we asked what brought him back year after year he said I come for ayahuasca, a shamanic drink. Oooooh kay….. we both said as he explained the benefits of the hallucinogen.

On the plane we chatted about the just announced Trayvon Martin verdict. An American man in the row ahead jumped in asking about riots. I don’t know, I said, I hope not. He replied, you know Jesse J and Reverend Al will be down their stirring them up” (sadly he didn’t mean her). I whispered to Graham, “he and I have different politics.”

We joined with a few other travelers to the Eco Amazonian Lodge at Puerto Maldonado. Julia and Ben from Boston quickly struck up a conversation and we compared notes on our shared home city. At the lodge, a cross between summer camp, Dirty Dancing, and a 5-star hotel (albeit one that only had electricity from 6-11pm every night), we met Liz and Ruben from Holland and they joined our merry band.

After a substantial lunch, we headed out on small river boats to Monkey Island, a monkey preserve, where, led by our guide Dave and his very impressive machete, we were swarmed by monkeys as well as macaws, vultures, and giant butterflies.

After a quick nap and another meal, we boarded the boats again in darkness to go crocodile spotting. Shining a light on the shore, our guide pointed them out as their eyes reflected back. After a long ride we let the boat drift downstream back to the lodge as we contemplated the Milky Way, Southern Cross, and other constellations to the lapping water and insect and animal symphony around us.

A 5 am start the next day, had us all in bed by 10 pm.

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