Ahhhhhh - sea level!!
07.10.2010 - 11.10.2010
Buenas Tardes from Lima!!!
I was super excited when our plane landed in Puerto Maldonado, Peru and we not only got back to sea level (and yes, I immediately felt much better!), but we also warmed up since the mountains were generally a little chilly - especially at night. We were immediately sweating in the 90 degree plus heat with 100% humidity as we took our tuk tuk (a local dirt bike/motorcycle with a couple of seats attached at the rear like a suped up rickshaw) to meet our boat that would take us a few hours up river to the Jungle lodge. We had a decent lunch of essentially stir fried rice with chicken wrapped in a banana leaf on the boat and swealtered in the mid-day sun.
The jungle is pretty much as expected, lush green as far as the eye can see, humid, hot, still and full of life (although I was continually surprised at how relatively quiet it was - most of the animals were keeping a low profile, especially in the afternoon heat). During our 3 days in the jungle we went on a night hike through the forest (lots of scary looking spiders since their eyes reflected our flash lights), day hikes, and unfortunately experienced nearly a full day of rain (which kept us in the boat or the lodge and most animals were keeping hidden as well). We saw a ton of beautiful birds and butterflies and lots of tropical flowers/plants/trees and fruits. The lodge grounds had star fruit, mangoes, bananas, papaya, oranges, limes, and avocado! During our hikes we saw fabulous parrots - including the 3 species of macaws (blue-yellow, blue-green, and scarlet), lots of really cute monkeys jumping around and playing in trees and the large river rodents - Capibarras. Unfortunately we didn't get many pics because the animals were either too far away for our cameras or moved too fast to not be a big blur. Plus, Sam has much greater talent at taking pics so when she uploads her photos I will try to share some of those too. But below are a couple of shots to give you an idea. One other thing to note on the jungle was the smell. I was surprised how varied the smell of the jungle was. Sometimes it smelled pungent with decaying stuff, sometime just fresh and vibrant, sometimes sweet from flowers, sometimes almost no odor at all. every few feet it seemed to offer something different!
After the jungle Sam headed home - thanks Sam for a great 2 weeks traveling together, so I am traveling solo for 2 weeks. Given my altitude problems I decided not to go to lake Titicaca and bolivia as they were the same, or higher, altitude and instead I came to Lima for a few days and I will head down along the Peruvian coast to see the Nazca lines and some of southern peru before I move on to Chile.
As a follow up to my last post - the night I wrote my post we went out and ordered a cuy (guinea pig) appetizer for dinner. It took me about half way through the dish to get mentally over eating the cute little suckers before I could enjoy the meat. It was a mild tasting amazingly moist meat and I could see eating them again if necessary, but think I would prefer to stick to more traditional meats!
Otherwise, I am starting to get sick of the monotomy of the peruvian cuisine. it seems like every meal consists of rice, fried potato, and meat (beef or chicken typically and usually kebabs or stir fried). Last night here in Lima I had the highly recommended beef heart kebabs at one of Lima's best restaurants and I have to say it was surprisingly tender and good, although I think I would go with straighter tenderloin the next time. I do however love the passionfruit and / or pisco cocktails!!
On reading: I finished the Shackelton story and read The Day After Tomorrow by Allan Follsom which I picked up from a hotel in Ollantambo during my break from the inka trail hike. It was a very engaging murder mystery/suspense book set in england, paris and berlin. I would recommend it. I have started reading Robinson Crusoe as I believe it is supposed to be set in one of the islands close to Easter Island which is coming up in a couple of weeks. So far it is a tropical shipwreck story and since it was written a couple of hundred years ago, the language is a little slow going and not really fully engaging. I may have to give it up for something more exciting. will keep you posted.
Thanks all for your comments, keep them coming as I love to hear from you!! Suzanne - re: tree line in peru - I think we were pretty close to the tree line, but I suspect the letters are clearcut or burned into the mountains. I saw lots of other mountain sayings along the way, my favorite was "God" because with the scenery it was already a contemplative moment.