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Cruising down the River of Life

Day 1 of our 2017 Peruvian trip to the Amazonian Basin.

Let the journey begin!
by Ashley and Chris Ried

First Glimpse of the Great Amazon River in Iquitos, Peru
The motocarro that could in Iquitos, Peru

We were taken via van through the streets of Iquitos; in heavy traffic with lots of motocarros and motorcycles down the 2 lanes road where the rules of the road were clearly just suggestions for those not of the area.

Within about 30 minutes, we arrived at the Amazonia Expeditions office; ate a quick lunch which consisted of an egg sandwich for Chris and a banana, cliff bar and a banana for Ashley as egg isn’t her favorite.

Various “shopping center” boats we passed on the Amazon River

We were on the speedboat for 4 hours; we stopped about halfway there for a quick bathroom break; the men’s “restroom” consisted of two planks, one either side of a hole for the men to pee through into the river; the woman’s restroom did have a toilet but no toilet paper and the toilet rocked when you sat on it.

The Amazon is huge…as you would expect…it reminds me more of a lake than a river based on its breadth

Though the Amazonian River was nutrient rich and filled with rainforest debris, a world that cannot be seen from the top but underneath a vibrant ecosystem.

We saw boats that passed full of people; we later learned that these were “city buses” of the jungle, taking the people from the river villages into Iquitos to sell food, shopping and entertainment in the big city.

Tahuyo River later in the afternoon

The boat ride was pleasant; the wind from the river was lovely; it didn’t really look like a rainforest to me until we go closer to the lodge on the Tahuyo River; I think this is partially because we are here in the dry season and river beds are so low, the “forest” is quite a ways off land

When we arrived at the lodge, we were greeted by Andre and served fresh, cold Passionfruit juice; it was so refreshing to indulge ourselves in the local produce of the rainforest.

After a quick 15 minute break, Andre (our dining room attendee) gave us the dos and don’ts, wheres and whys. He told us about the lodge and showed us to our room; it is truly an event for applause when you realize how nice the accommodations are in the middle of the jungle. We have a queen size bed and rather spacious bathroom; the structure has a large dining room, kitchen, hammock room, wifi room with lounge chairs and tables for games, 17 rooms for guests. We acquainted ourselves with our room and then headed to dinner; there were many dishes with lots of things to try; Ashley’s stomach was a little cramped from the malaria pills so she ended up not eat too much that evening.

We then met Manuel, our guide; he grew up in the El Chino village nearby and was taught by his grandfather and father in the ways of the jungle. But before he would take us there, we were summoned to our first dinner in the jungle consisting of local and American dishes.

After dinner, we went out for a night hike with Manuel; it was surreal to be walking in the Amazon rainforest at night. Just imagine at any point, we could have found ourselves eye to eye with all sorts of wildlife. Manuel has an excellent eye, we saw many things including a very large toad, tan scorpion, small snake (nonpoisonous, unsure of kind as per our guide), pink toed tarantula, very large cockroach (much cooler than the US version), red snake, leaf cutter ants, katydid, centipede

A wee centipede of which we know nothing about, it could have been a novel species. It braced us with it’s presence on our first little night walk.

After our hike, we went to the wifi room and connected with our family via Viber and Facebook Messenger as we cooked a couple hours in the Amazonian humidity, our desert was taking a glorious cold shower! Chris’s shower was really quick because the water wasn’t draining and Ashley had it almost filled it up. It wasn’t till the next day we were shown the proper way to relieve the shower of the river water we showered in.

And a more muscular cockroach (than its suburban cousin of North America) basking in the lights of our night hike.

We then settled in for the night, closed the mosquito net around us and slept wonderfully. During the night it rained which brought some coolness and beautiful, rolling thunder; we brought a battery operated fan that was money very well spent; we sat it in the bed with us and I only kicked it off once during the night.

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