June 22, 2008
6-22-08 – African Queen in Peru
Today we got up early to head to the Amazon. It turns out that I was wrong about us going down the Amazon River….instead, we are going down the Madre di Dios (Mother of God) River, which is a tributary of the Amazon.
After a flight delay, we landed in Puerto Maldenado, a booming tourist gateway to the Amazon Basin. The streets are lined with ramshackle buidings painted pastel colors and covered in a layer of brown dust. Dirt bikes and three-wheeled taxis, (essentially dirt bikes pulling a box that two people can sit in), weave in and out of the traffic. We were even passed by a woman with her infant straddling the motorcycle seat!
After a colorful, albeit dusty, ride, we arrived at the banks of the river. This is where my first disappointment of the trip really came in. We were told that we were going to canoe to the lodge we were staying at. Well, instead, we rode on one of those long boats like you see in “African Queen”. Now granted, the river is huge…bigger than the Mississippi, and has all manner of interesting currents, but I was disappointed, nonetheless. The river ride was pretty neat, but I did not see an anaconda or a piranha, both of which I really want to see!
We pulled up to the bank of the river, and see a scattering of cabins peeking out from between palm fronds. In addition to the individual cabins, there is a big dining cabin, and all the buildings are made of simple wood with 3-4 sides of screen. We are warned about the scorpions, possums, and the resident parrot named Pepe, (who bites) before we were turned loose for a while before lunch.
Lunch itself was really neat! We were served a big round stuffed banana leaf filled with rice, chicken, eggs and olives. They call it “John the Baptist Head” because it resembles a head on a plate. It is a traditional dish here in the Amazon Basin, and I loved it! I am really glad that they served us something traditional rather than chicken fingers and fries.
After lunch, I head back to our cabin. I am not feeling well…I have had a bad cold ever since the last day of the Incan Trail, so I decide to take a nap and forgo the jungle hike that is scheduled for this afternoon. I lay down for a nap to the sounds of macaws and river boats, with a soft breeze blowing around my mosquito net. I think I am going to like it here!
Love, Anna aka Mud Butt