Monday, June 30, 2014

Inca Trail Marathon Adventure Day 10 - to the Amazon!

Felt terrible, but was determined to SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP. Cheese and bread and fizzy water for breakfast. Also had a Coke because I figured a little caffeine might do me good.

Nice, short, simple flight to Puerto Maldonado, shortly over an hour, gate to gate. And you know I do love to walk down steps onto the tarmac rather than enter one of those gate tubes. Makes me wave like the president every time. Got our bags relatively quickly (the flight was pretty empty) and stumbled out into the sunshine.

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so. much. luggage.
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why, hello Amazonia!

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all the sleeping ladies… and Wil

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I'm awake!

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hail to the tourists

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Puerto Maldonado airport

A man asked Wil if we were part of the Rainforest Expedition... we said no, then realized, oh, wait, YES, we were! So we collected our gear and loaded up a big bus. We'd become so accustomed to having our own bus(es) that it was odd to share … especially with folks who simply moved things off of seats where our group had put them while we helped load up!

In a few minutes we arrived at the company office, where we re-organized our luggage, storing the big bags and then got our traveling bags labeled. Porters would take them to our rooms at the Refugio. Magic!

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Then another bus, this one for just our group, and a quick stop to pick up sodas / snacks, then we drove about 45 minutes to the port. We drove past "squatters" (who seemed pretty well settled) and the small community of Infierno.

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En route we were given a snack - an orange, some brazil nuts, and plantain chips, all produce of the refuge.

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At the port they loaded gear and food onto the boats, and we had a few minutes to use the toilets, buy snacks, etc. I had a moment of awesomeness when I completed a transaction solely in Spanish, paying 2 soles less than those who transacted in English, I'm proud to say. Boo-yah.

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loved this: he's listening to the World Cup game on a radio

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our boats

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come mister tallyman, tally me banana

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tres soles!

Head was still banging when we piled onto the boat for the 2 1/2 hour ride to the refuge. I just tried to relax and rest. We were served lunch --- surprisingly delicious mix of rice, cheese, egg, olives, and mushrooms served in a large leaf. I only wish I'd had the appetite to eat it all, because it was super tasty.

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We stopped at a checkpoint on the way through -- it's how they control access to the refuge -- but only the guides had to go up and check us in.

Oh, on the ride we saw a couple of caymans and a bunch of capybaras. ("the world's largest rodent", trademark…)

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cayman!

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capybara!

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capybara!!!

Arrived at the refuge, up the muddy bank and a quick 10-minute hike to the lodge. This felt far that first day, but we repeated it so often in coming days that it came to be nothing. We were welcomed by the very solicitous manager with fruit juice. I think we all relaxed a little when we saw how nice it all was! Went to our room to chill a little -- it was beautiful and very open, with a nice big private bathroom with hot water and electricity. Sweet!

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the main lodge -- hardly anyone ever went to the quiet upstairs balcony

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key fob shaped like an otter!!!

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our room

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loved this bathroom -- and a shower with a view

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Wil working on his "blue steel" look

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view from our window

Before dinner Jesus, our main guide, gave a talk about cayman. He seemed a little nervous … "never so many people attend this talk before!" but we learned about the four types of cayman that live in various parts of the reserve.

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Reported for dinner -- we had separate vegetarian entrees, which turned out to be huge slabs of quiche on the first night. Really nice; lots of vegetables and fruits, too.

That night we joined a night cayman search, where we went out in a boat to search for cayman by shining lights across the water and looking for the reflection from their eyes. We had seen some on the boat ride earlier, but they were pretty immobile. But at night they moved around a lot more, and we saw lots of them.

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somewhere in here there are cayman

We also saw a very angry capybara… angry because he was running along the bank and we were sailing along, shining a light at him… poor guy just couldn't get away from us!

Lowlight of cayman search: I slipped on the dark, muddy bank and fell on my butt getting in to the boat. Let's just say that that mudstain just wasn't EVER gonna come out of those trousers!

Also took anti-malarial pill #2 -- and instantly felt terrible again; even worse, if possible. Decided not to take any more, given that malaria is very rare in that area, and there needs to be a human host population for the mosquitos to pass it around. See, the Peruvian government can't offer free healthcare, but they do offer free treatment for malaria and yellow fever to attempt to eradicate it in the name of public health and to support tourism. Smart. Anyway, stopping taking the pills was a good decision for me… but, obviously, talk to your doctor!

The temperature was a little low, but with my fever, the mosquito netting, and cuddling with Wil, we were both plenty warm and slept like logs, listening to jungle noise. Very nice.

#amazonusie

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