Jungle Sam Part 2

Trip Start Sep 09, 2010
Trip End May 28, 2011

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Where I stayed
Explorer's Inn Lodge, Tambopata

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Thursday 14th October

Today my alarm went off at 4.45am as we had to be ready, have breakfast and on our trail of the rainforest for 5.30am. This was so that we could avoid the midday heat. By the time I got up and ready in the candlelight...it was light outside. No need to guess but I skipped the cold shower in the pitch black so headed to the restaurant area where I met up with Julio. Thought I'd be put with another group but it was just me and Julio! The walk through the rainforest wa 5 1/2 km and took us to the Cocococha Oxbow lake. To be honest we didn't really see an awful lot of wildlife, mainly insects, leafcutter ants, colourful butterflies and birds and we looked at the plants, fauna and trees along the way. Some of the plants were used for medicinal purposes and I was able to chew them, and then spit them out, one plant had a tingling numbling like effect on my tongue and has been used as a kind of anesthetic.

The other Intrepid group though arrived shortly after us and so we took two catamarans out onto the late in the hope that we would see some otters. Unfortuately after an hour or so on the lake we didn't see any. There is a protected area of the lake which they inhabit and we are not allowed near, the day before a couple saw half a dozen as they sometimes come out of their protected area I suppose it is just pot luck. Wasn't too bothered though it was just nice to be out on the river in the sun.  After we got back to sure there was a long and short route. We opted for the longer one which was more uphill and the trail was more unkempt. So we had another 5km+ trail back to the lodge. I think we got back around 11 or midday. So it was a good few hours of walking in the heat of the jungle. But I did enjoy it and it was nice to have my own personal guide.

After lunch Julio and I went for another trail to Sunset Point where two rivers meet. We saw some vultures in the distant, it was quite a romantic spot with the right person! I then had a couple of hours to relax before our noctural walk through....yes the jungle. I think today I spent more than 8 hours walking through the rainforest we were becoming quite intimate!!  This time it wasn't just me and Julio another group of tourists, French and Australias joined us. We had another guide too. Some people had torch bands on their heads, I just opted for a small hand held torch. So we walked through the jungle looking for animals. We saw some tarantulas and large stick insects. We then had a few reflective moments in the pitch black as we turned off our torches, which was a time to enjoy the tranquil and peaceful jungle as in the daylight it can be a very noisy place at times, with the wind rustling through the tree tops, the cries of an alsortment of birds and of course the sound of the cicadas/locusts. We then made our way back just in time for our last dinner. This time I didn't sit next to Julio so didn't get a chance to say goodbye and thankyou. I hoped to see him the next morning.  Looks like another early start have to be on our way by 7am.

Friday 15th October

Hardly slept as there was torrential rain and thunder all night, and it felt really up close and personal....Anyway I was up and having breakfast by just gone 6am.  I sat with the researchers from America who I'd met the day before who were experts in Ants! They were leaving after a week or so at the lodge before heading off to another part of the jungle to look at more ants. The Interpid group were leaving too so we all got the boat back together to the main land. Julio didn't come with us so I asked that his tip be given to him I would have prefered to give it to myself and hoped he would actually get it.  Not sure how much they get paid but I know Julio is still studying and not fully qualified so I'm sure tips will come in handy. Spoke to a few of the people on the interpid group don't think they were too impressed because of the lack of animals/wildlife that we saw. To be honest I wasn't that bothered it was more of an adventure in the Amazon rainforest for me, something I'd never experienced before. So I enjoyed it, but not sure I could go without electricity for much longer than 2 or so days. Thankfully the boat trip was only an hour or so, as it has rained so  much, it can mean that you have to go the long way round as the dirt track back to the office can become inpassable, and it would take 3 hours. Luckily this was not the case.

So we were back in Puerto Maldonado by around 8am.....my bus back to Cusco was at 6pm so once again a huge wait lay ahead of me. The Interpid guys were driven off to the airport to catch their plane and me Steffi and Dan hung around the office for a while, they were going on another boat ride to another rainforest a bit later. But I was not feeling too great. I'd had scrambled eggs for breakfast and almost immediately felt sick and the feeling didn't go away.  We then had some good news Julio was on his way back to the office so I could say goodbye and give him his tip in person. One of the guides said that Marco was going to come back and take me into the city centre again to waste a few hours, but he went off somewhere and then Julio turned up. He has his own motorbike so instead we headed for the centre just like I did on Wednesday. We went to the main square for a drink. I had a juice took one slip and fled to the bathroom immediately....luckily a woman was coming out (only one toilet) as I literally flew in . and excuse the graphic detail - but projectile vomited into the toilet basin......there was hardly any mess I'm pleased to say and I felt so much better afterwards! But I didn't eat or drink for the rest of the day. I still felt rough most of the day and just didn't know what I was going to do for the next 6 hours, and surely Julio wouldn't want to spend it with me. I have to say there isn't an awful lot to do in PM. But both Julio and Marco had done their best to try and persuade me to stay an extra night and go clubbing with them, but I really, really didn't feel up to it. In the end I had to pay for a room in a hostal just so I could get some sleep for a few hours and a shower. Julio found one for me it was 35 soles so around 8 pounds. He kindly offered to come back and pick me up and take me to the bus station. So at 5pm on the dot Julio came and picked me and gave me a present. A lovely colourful painting of the rainforest, apparently he'd done it himself....anyway it was very sweet of him. He then wanted a picture of the two of us so we went to a viewpoint overlooking the river, before we headed off to the bus station.

And so there the story should really have ended with me getting on the bus at 6pm and arriving into Cusco 12 or so hours later, however things took a strange twist. At around 2am in the morning having managed to get a few hours sleep I suddenly felt really cold in the bus, which was usual as it was normally quite pleasant and warm. The bus had come to a stop, I looked out the window and could see snow and sleet of all things. It was coming down quite hard and we were on the top of a mountain. We ended up spending about 3 hours stuck until daylight when a few of us got out. It was proper thick snow and bloody freezing. There was a trail of lorries, cars and buses that had all come to a standstill. However we did get going, and I think I passed a sign that said we were around 4,900 metres high....the driver took it slowly and we managed to get over the top of the mountain and down again without any major catastrophes....and eventually got back to Cusco after 9am, I was shattered. But how mad to have gone from 35 degree heat to below zero and snow in a matter of a couple of hours - but that's Peru for you!!!

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