Welcome to the Jungle

Trip Start Jan 28, 2011
Trip End Apr 29, 2011

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Flag of Peru  , Madre de Dios,
Sunday, February 20, 2011

After some flight delays (some serious weather in Cusco) we landed in Puerto Maldonado. From there, following a brief trip to the market and a repacking of bags (we just took enough for a couple of days and left our main packs at the tour company office) we headed to the river for the 90 minute motorised canoe trip down the Madre de Dios river (a tributory of the Amazon river). Puerto Maldonado definitely felt like a third world country - mud roads, shabby, unfinished buildings, and like every other city in Peru, lots of car/bike horns.

There were around 25 of us on the boat - it was also transporting a group of middle-aged Greek tourists who seemed pathelogically incapable of following simple instructions, in particular do not stand up and move around on the canoe, as it makes it very unstable. Their presence, complete with Chanel and Gucci handbags, made this expedition seem a little less intrepid than it might otherwise have!

We arrived at the EcoAmazonia lodge in the afternoon, for a late, but very tasty lunch - rice, chicken and veg wrapped up in a big leaf. As we sat down for lunch we were quickly reminded why it called the rain forest as a prodigious amount of water fell from the sky. This was to be something of a theme for the next two days!

At nightime we went out hunting for Caiman - small alligator type things. On a boat. In the dark. With lots of noises of things that might kill you.  Fun! Caiman donīt kill you though- the one we found was a baby (less than 1m long), and seemed unperturbed by the spotlight shining in its eyes or the 20-odd tourists in a boat right next to it.

On our second day we went on a walk through the jungle, getting very wet again and learning about even more stuff that kills you and eating the things that donīt, including various fruits, and termites, which were crunchy (unsurprising) and minty (surprising).  Also learned about jungle-style justice.  The local tribes dealt with adulterers, womanisers, the lazy and socially useless (investment bankers etc) by stripping them naked and tying them to a particular tree overnight- the justice tree, inhabited by fire ants which can kill a child with 30 bites. On the way back we saw a tarantula which posed for pictures briefly and lots of monkeys who entirely refused to be photographed, you have to take our word for it.  Cheeky monkeys.

Then it was back up the (massive) river for 2 hours (upstream this time) and goodbye to the jungle.
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