Thursday, 29 May 2014

PERUVIAN JUNGLE. Going to Iquitos

On a cargo ship to Iquitos
Goal: Iquitos - the largest city on earth that can only be reached by boat or plane. Coming from Trujillo, I was planning to spend 2 days in Tarapoto, another jungle town which has lots of waterfalls, rivers, lagoons, rafting, hikes...so lots to do here.

Tarapoto. Took a bus from Trujillo, Ejetur (21h, 65/S.) and had a couch in Tarapoto but right after having met him, I wished I went to a hostel. His place was scary (I’m just gonna say that the bathroom had no door, no sink, no water till 4pm) and I could have put up with it but my host was scary as well. Once I made it to the house, I realized that he was the guy who I was supposed not to surf with cos all the guys I met in Nazca warned me about him but sometimes I just don´t listen. I decided he is mentally retarded (that´s the better option) and if I leave that would cause more problems to his mental state. He wanted me to stay another day for his friend’s birthday party (who was actually normal) but there was no way I was staying. I took the second bus in morning (7am, the first one leaves at 5am) which apparently wasn’t enough cos I got to Yurimaguas too late and had no other choice but wait for the next boat leaving to Iquitos.

The birthday guy and his harp (I think)
Three boats left early in the morning to Iquitos and I was told that EDUARDO IX would leave next morning. So I bought a ticket (70 /S.), a hammock and settled. Don’t buy a hammock in advance; they sell plenty of them there at reasonable price. The boat started to get crowded and more and more people were coming with their hammocks. Luckily a French couple put up their hammocks next to me so I had some company. Eduardo didn’t leave the next day either, so I spent 2 nights sleeping on the boat without leaving Yurimaguas. Did a few turns to the centre of town, used the internet, had lunch, then dinner, shower, then lunch, then dinner…Not much happening there.
Day 1. Just me...
Dont remember what the drink was but it was pretty awful


All of this has to go
And 2 hours after we left the port, we got stuck due to the shallow waters of the river at this time of the year (summer here and winter in the rest of Peru) and the whole day we didn’t move until the EDUARDO IV came to help us - long procedure of unloading all the bags of rice, yuka an chickens…then the ship was much lighter so we manage to finally get out of the shallow spot and 2 more hours to load everything back to our  boat. Then it was dark already and the captain was too scared to continue during the night and get stuck again.
Too heavy...Unloading...
I spent the following 4 days sleeping in the hammock, talking to some of the other foreigners, playing rummy and eating chicken with rice and plantain almost three times a day. Sleeping in the hammock is quite comfortable and if there weren’t any sand flies would be just perfect. I managed to read 4 books while on the boat, luckily the French girl had quite a big selection of books with her. And having a shower was one of the treats we all had there, cos the bathrooms are quite comfortable and the cool water is very refreshing, after a whole day of sweating.
Babies and laundry hanging over the rail are not unusual 
Day 3,4,5...hundreds of hammocks
Melanie and Remi
Full house
Lunch time (chicken and rice as always)
Stopped at an island to buy fruit and they left withous us
But we found another ride and caught them up :)

Ready for rummycub!
Finally, on the 28th of Aug (3 days later that I had told my host I will arrive) our boat got to Iquitos in Peruvian Amazon – the largest city on earth only accessible by boat or air. David (my host in Iquitos) sent me a message earlier that maybe 2 couples whose he was also expecting , were on the boat. Wasn’t difficult to find them since there were 10 foreigners and 100 Peruvians… A Spanish and a Danish couple. At the end the French couple also came. Once in Iquitos we all headed to David´s house. Going through the heaps of mototaxis offering us a ride for 10 soles, we took a bus for 1 sol each.
David and his wife were very friendly and had lots of stories to tell – about Ayahuasca, thieves, the jungle…All together we went to Mercado de Belen – the goal was to buy caiman fillets and other things for the dinner but as it always happens I bought all kind of stuff, needed and unneeded. There was such a big variety of Amazon fish, spices, fruits and vegetables we didn’t know, art work…that one could not resist buying them. The dinner was exclusive, everyone helped and for the caiman David had a special recipe, he even won a national prize for that and it´s true, it was delicious. 

The back yard in David´s house
On a moto taxi heading to Belen
Mercado de Belen

Cashew fruit





Slightly bored

David applying his "winner recipe" to the caiman

Almost ready
Peruvian emapanadas on the way
We all went to the manatee rescue center. I’ve never seen or heard of such an animal before, they are like water cows, harmless and cute. People used to keep them as pets but in conditions that eventually will kill them. And these guys try to save as many as possible and make sure they recover (they feed them like babies with a nursing bottle), prepare them how to survive and then release them into their natural environment. Pretty often they die though.



Street ice cream

Still in Iquitos


I knew that at some point I have to go on a jungle tour, if not here, then in Ecuador or Colombia. And since I made such an effort to come to Iquitos was pointless to leave without going to the jungle. So we booked a 3 days tourfor 250 Soles including all transports, food, lodge and guides. Was supposed to go together with the Spanish couple but Oscar got bitten by David´s dog so they cancelled the trip and I went with two German guys.
Floating down the Amazon river
The lodge was nice, basic but clean and food was very good. Lots of mosquitos of course, after 6pm it was impossible to be outside. First day we saw the pink dolphins, heaps of them. Went for a walk near the lodge, in the jungle´s heart. Our guide knew every single tree and plant, copaliyo (helped me get rid of my diarrhea), rubber plant tree, garlic plant, uña de gato (apparently good for any kind of pain, kidneys, stomack, bruises)…In the afternoon the guides took us to another part of the Amazons to see the pink dolphins. They are really pink, just the male ones I think and only the tops. And we ended up soaking in the nice refreshing water despite the piranhas, there were a few bites but nothing serious.

The lodge
Learning how to find and drink fresh water in the jungle







The mangroves were huge

Soaking after seeing a fair amount of pink dolphins
Evil
Second day an Australian girl joined us. We went looking for sloths (perezoso, ленивец), found two but when our guide tried to shake it down(straight from the top of the tree together with its baby, we all protested telling him that don’t wanna see it anymore, at least not dead) Also went to Puerto Miguel, the closest village to the lodge and instead of watching a boring football match we played volleyball with the local kids.


Puerto Miguel



A sloth on top of the tree

Went camping the second night, managed to set up the hammocks and mosquito nets just before the rain started pouring heavily. At 1,30 am, in my deepest sleep, Falcor woke us up to go caiman and anaconda “hunting”.  So we had no choice, got out of our hammocks, put the head torch on and went looking for caimans. In the mud, dark and rain :(.

Got the caiman!

My bed
The camp
Next thing was piranha fishing. We actually did it where we went swimming the day before...so they don´t really attack you I guess! At least not those there...
First piranha out

Fried piranhas.  Freshly caught! Not bad at all actually
Got back to Iquitos just in time to get on the boat to Yurimaguas…This time I went straight upstairs where all the foreigners were. It was fucking cold the first night, there was a storm and me and my hammock, sleeping bag and clothes got completely soaked. Luckily one of the couples who were sleeping in a cabin let me use their hammock for the night. There were some cool people on the boat so the time went by quickly…talking, reading, playing games, watching films. Even when we got stuck and had to stay an extra night and morning until we got rescued from another Eduardo, we didn’t complain much. Met this cool half Peruvian, half Cuban but American by passport, calledCasandra and we spent long hours talking about our lives or “freezing to death” J

One of the sunsets taken from my "bed"
Another little friend I made
Casandra
Austria, Florida/Cuba/Peru and Bulgaria
We all (the foreigners) got a bus to Tarapoto and then I started taking numerous buses to Chiclayo, Piura and Talara…and the last one to Lobitos where I was supposed to volunteer. My time in Lobitos was so amazing that I´ve already posted it, a few months ago, here is the link: Volunteering in Lobitos.

After this incredible month I spent in La Casona and Lobitos, it was time to go due to my visa, I stayed almost 3 months in Peru, the longest I ever stayed in a country. Lots of people were leaving these days and the idea was that we all mett in Mancora, the party town on the beach, just 1,5h away north. I followed the others and stayed at Loki, beautiful hostel but famous with its destruction – you stay there 2 nights and then you have to recover for a week. Exactly what happened to me J. Two days in Mancora, it was time to go. Said goodbye to friends and people I knew and left on a bus to Cuenca, Ecuador.
Loki, pretty nice but so destructive (and hard to leave)
The beach in Mancora. Not the best
A bit further from the clamour.  Yes, it exists in Mancora
Mauricio and Ben
And one more thing: Pisco Sour is Peruvian!!! 100 %! Im sorry my Chilean friends but its true! You still have the Piscola J

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