Friday, 30 March 2012
Jungle is massive!
It's been a while since our last Blog as we had a bit of a disaster on a bus - my passport, money, camera and debit card were stolen!! Not good at all and we're so careful with our stuff but someone must have dived under my seat from behind to get to it as I had by wedged in by my feet. Very frustrating but after a lot of paperwork I am now the holder of an emergency passport. And fortunately I didn't lose any photos as I switched memory cards the day it was stolen which is a little strange. Back to the Amazon which really was something worth remembering. After a 10 hour overnight bus ride, with numerous police searches, throughout the night, we rocked up at a bridge where we boarded a motorised canoe with our guide and our 5day adventure began. On the ride back to the lodge we spotted 4 types of monkey jumping overhead, toucans and a snake. We were loving it already. The lodge was surprisingly the most luxurious place we stayed, considering it was in the middle of nowhere. And the food was incredible-3 courses every time. There were only 2 other guests in the lodge which we didn't think would be as fun to begin with but we were lucky the other 2 people were a young Germany couple who were great fun. And it meant because we were a small group we could choose what we wanted to do a bit more. We did so much in these 5 days that it's a little tricky to write about. We really got our money's worth as we would be rounded up for 3-4 different trips each day! We would have about 30mins spare time-it was non stop! But i'll write up some of the highlights. We went on a 4 hour hike through the forest where our guide Wilmer, who was definitely a character, he told us all about how the locals use the plants for medicinal purposes. We tasted liquids from trees, lit liquids which were actually used as firelighters and incense, had a go at swinging on vines and waded through swamp water up to our thighs which was particularly entertaining as our guide laughed hysterically at how muddy we all were. He was definitely disappointed that none of us fell in!! Piranha fishing was great fun. You had to thrash the water with your bamboo rod to convince the piranha that something had fallen in and then as soon as you felt a nibble speedily pull the hook up. Jonty did very well catching one but although I got lots of nibbles I failed to catch him this time. Luckily we did get a chance to piranha fish again as we loved it, so peaceful, and I was determined to catch one. And I did better than that catching two and Jonty caught one more a fish called a Huanchiche. Our guide scarily demonstrated how strong the jaws of the piranha, by putting a twig in its mouth and it would slice right through it. No piranha dinner for us though as we threw them back to maintain the piranha numbers. That wasn't the only scary creatures we saw though. We went on a night walk and a night boat ride. On the walk we saw whip snake spiders and bullfrogs and had to turn off our torches at one point as our guide was convinced the dangerous bush tracker snake was trailing us. We're not sure still if he was winding us up about this but he seemed worried!! But the 6metre caimen we spotted by its glowing red eyes in the dark was a definite highlight. The boat eased right up to it and we were so close we could touch it, hmmm, but we were all fine until it dived under the boat and the driver speedily reversed away!! Each evening, we would go swimming in the middle of one of the great lakes at sunset. And one time, when it was just Jonty and I as we stayed on an extra day than the couple, we spotted river dolphins again but this time fairly close and our guide quite rightly said "when are we going to get a chance to swim with river dolphins again" so we dived right in. It was incredible, possibly my favourite moment swimming across that great, quiet lake and getting so close to the dolphins. I never quite caught them up, funny that, but I got pretty close to them and had almost swum the length of the lake when the boat pulled alongside and the guide told me I was swimming right next to where we had seen the 6m caimen yesterday. I was back in the boat within seconds, Jonty already on there. The guide told us that it's fine the caimen don't go there in the day and he wouldn't have let us in there if it wasn't safe but we later heard that another group had seen a caimen crossing the lake quite close to me- hmmm!! A pretty memorable trip was when we went to see the local shamen Tomas. We arrived and we saw a man dressed in jeans and tshirt but within minutes he was dressed in brightly coloured traditional shamen clothes. We felt it was little put on for the tourists but he was a friendly man and he proceeded to tell us about what he does, through a translator, and how he uses hallucinogenic plants to find out what is wrong with a patient. He conducted a mock ceremony on our german friend who struggled to keep a straight face and we were relieved we hadn't been chosen as the mock patient. On our last day as it was just me and Jonty on the tour, our guide who we had come to know very well now and liked (despite the fact he took about 20 photos a day of himself looking moody at arms length-ha), taught us how to drive the motorised canoe. This was very entertaining as we tried to do 3 point or 0 point turns in the river!! Most nights after dinner we would all play a game of some kind and it was while we were playing a dice game that I thought I saw a tarantula on me and I jumped up and screamed. It was actually a spiny lobster- check it out on Google images. We managed to look at it closely, after the initial shock, but it looks like something from a Doctor Who film!! The staff all found it pretty funny as they'd all run out to see what was going on when I screamed!! Jonty also had a surprise visitor of a frog jump on him in our room but he wasn't as terrifying as a spiny lobster. We were very sad when it was time to go, but in need of a rest after the 5.30am starts and non stop exciting schedule. We saw so much incredible wildlife, I have lists of everything we saw but won't bore you with all of them. But in summary the highlights were, river dolphins (not pink the ones we saw I'm afraid Phil but apparently its the older ones that are pink), caimen, parrots, toucans, kingfishers, stinky birds (so many birds) red headed woodpeckers, snakes, owl/squirrel/cappuccino/yellow handed titi monkeys, snakes. And the list goes on...it was an awesome, beautiful 5 days.