Into the Amazon...

Trip Start Jul 12, 2008
Trip End May 31, 2009

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Monday, September 1, 2008

A lot has happened since we last wrote, we have journeyed into the heart of the Amazon and even as to Middle Earth with the stamp in our passports to prove it (hope the Peruvian border authorities wonīt mind!) Before leaving Mexico though we spent time in a town called Puebla where we met up with Paulineīs good friend, Luz (we studied together in Paris) It was amazing to see (and meet for Callum) Luz after three years, we had such a great time reminiscing about gay Paris and Luz gave us such a unique insight into her city as only a Pueblana could! We were visiting all of the local markets eating the famous 'cemitasī for lunch at food stalls and visiting the less well known but equally impressive sights of the city. It was so sad to leave Luz but we had such a wonderful time together and hopefully one day in the not to distant future she will pay us a visit so that we can show her around Scotland.

After visting a quaint little silversmith village called Taxco, we made our way to Mexico City for our flight to Ecuador. We have been here now for a little over two weeks and are completely enchanted by the country. In Quito we visited all of the cultural sights in the traditional old town including a working nunnery where we bought some hand cream from a nun behind a revolving door as she is not allowed to converse or see anyone outwith her permitted one hour of chat /TV watching each day.

As we mentioned, we made the journey to Middle Earth sadly with no hobbits in tow! Literally meaning the centre of the Earth (qui - middle, to - earth  - in the indigenous language quechua) we took this opportunity to travel to the outskirts of the capital to visit the actual equatorial line (measured acurately twelve years ago using GPS). There was a fantastic outdoor museum straddling the two hemispheres where we firstly learnt about typical Equatorian life where Callum got to take part in traditional festival dancing and we both tried our hand at traditional blow pipe hunting. We also witnessed the rather gruesome sight of a 150 year old shrunken skull belonging to the indigenous Shuar tribe who believed that adorning themselves with the shrunken skulls of ancestors would guarantee instant wisdom for themselves. We then progressed onto some fun yet mindboggling equatorial experiments!

For Callumīs birthday we wanted to do something memorable so we decided to travel to the Cuyabeņo Reserve in the Amazon and it is safe to say that this definitely lived up to the challenge of being memorable! Our lodge was situated in a remote corner of the reserve and even from our initial journey by canoe, we were struck by the sheer density of the jungle and how every inch around us was teeming with wildlife - amazing!  Every day was packed with activities, the moment we arrived we were instructed to don rubber boots and ponchos for our first attempt at pirhaņa fishing!  Itīs rather unsettling to fish for something with raw meat and even more so when Callum returned to the same spot the following day for swimming! Other days were filled with visits to neighbouring indigenous villages and adventurous treks through the jungle. One such trek became a little too exhilirating when we came face to face with one of the Amazonīs most deadly snakes. The guide had to send word for the cook to come with his machete to kill it as if we had been bitten by the snake we would have bled to death (through our eyes, ears, nose and skin!) within three hours.  On our nocturnal trips we spotted caiman and during the day, the slightly more friendly pink dolphins! It felt like such a privilege to be allowed into this environment no matter how scared we were at nightime by the unidentifiable things flying and crawling through our open wooded hut! But perhaps the best part of the trip was our fond memories of Melissa - the orphaned monkey rescued by the reserve who always tried her damndest to get hold of your lunch or in Callumīs case, pick things out of his hair!


We were so sad when we returned to civilisation but were equally excitied by our next challenge. We are travelling to Baņos for some long overdue Spanish lessons which will hopefully help us to muddle through the rest of South America!
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Where I stayed
Cuyabeno River Lodge
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