Thursday, July 3, 2014

Inca Trail Marathon Adventure Day 13 - from the Amazon to Lima

Relatively late start for most of us -- we had to have our porter bags in front of the room by 7, and then breakfast in the lodge at 7:15. Few moments of excitement early in the morning:

I decided that, rather than take a shower in the morning, I would just "freshen up" with a sponge bath in the sink. (Wet skin, soap up, wipe clean with washcloth.) There I was, all soapy handed, soapy faced, when… CLINK! I dropped my wedding ring. Just slid off.

Here's the thing about the rooms at the Refugio Amazonas… they're built on stilts with raised boardwalks connecting the buildings. And the floors are polished wood slats. The gaps help with ventilation and probably ease of cleaning. And are just wide enough for a wedding ring to drop through.

Here's another thing about the rooms at the Refugio Amazonas… the walls don't go all the way up to the ceiling, and they're made of woven bark. As noted on the Rainforest Expeditions website, "the rooms are private but not soundproof." For the most part, all of us were aware of this and careful to be quiet. It added to the relaxed ambiance. Except when I dropped my wedding ring through the floor.

"SH*T! SH*T! SH*T!!!! WILLIAM!!!! HELP!!!" -- all delivered in a loud hissing voice. At 6:30 a.m.

I had soap all over my hands and face, was trying to rinse off, open the bathroom door, and spot my ring. Wil must have thought I was being attached by an anaconda or something, and leapt to my aid.




Luckily we could see it -- so my job was to stand there with a flashlight pointing to the ring, which lay in the dirt shining like, well, The One Ring. And it was also easy enough to get under the room, get the ring, and come back up. But we were both anxious to prevent any wee beastie from picking up My Precious, so there were some tense moments.

Of course, it could have been MUCH WORSE -- dropping it down the drain, down the toilet, down the shower… not sure we could have retrieved it. But just through the slats in the floor? Easy peasy. And hooray for Wil. And apologies for my neighbors who got to hear the hissing panic!

We took a few last photos of our room and the lodge, and headed down to breakfast.
some last shots of our room -- open to the jungle
we didn't need an umbrella -- but it *is* a rain forest
it was nice to have places to charge our cameras, and the lamps were pretty, but I think we would have been fine with kerosene lamps, too...

I LOVED this simple "clothes hook" hanging from the ceiling -- super pretty

heading to breakfast on the last day
view from the upper story at the lodge -- our last breakfast in the rain forest!
dropping off our key :(
During the night one of the old oro pendula nests had fallen down -- sorta hard to believe they weave these with their beaks.




Also, found an open Brazil nut pod -- and fed some of the nuts to a friendly "squirrel"…


Then we made the walk to the boat, one last time. And I'm pleased to report that I didn't fall in. (That would have been grim.)

Erik had been concerned that leaving the Refugio at 8 wouldn't give us enough time to make our noon flights from Puerto Maldonado -- but Jesus promised it would be fine -- given that the boat ride would be much shorter since we would be traveling with the current.

bye bye Amazon



Indeed, the boat ride *was* much shorter, the transfer to the bus was also smooth and fast, and we made good time. Thanks to the whole crew at Rainforest Expeditions for such a great trip!



Turns out that our flights had been changed -- from noon to 11:25 -- which meant that we had to go straight to the airport, and that Rainforest Expeditions had actually taken all of our stored bags to the airport and checked them in. (Another thumbs up to Rainforest Expeditions for taking care of this!!!)

We arrived at the airport, blissfully unaware of this… until we were all spurred into action. First we had to make sure our big bags were there in the "checked luggage" area. (Yes.) Then we quickly had to clear security. And then a couple of minutes later, we boarded the plane.

It wasn't until we were about to board that I realized … we hadn't had a chance to say goodbye and thanks to Jesus or Dagger. Boo! (Though as Wil reminded me, we had made a point of saying thank you to both of them the night before because we didn't think they would be coming with us back to Puerto Maldonado.)

We did, however, stop to say thanks and goodbye to Erik and Myra, and got huge hugs in return. They would be flying with us to the first stop in Cusco, where they'd be getting off to get ready for the Inca Trail Marathon runners who would arrive the next day.

We all headed across the tarmac and piled on the surprisingly crowded plane. First stop, Cusco, where Erik and Myra left, along with a LOT of other passengers. New passengers took their place, of course. Funny: cute Sue's new neighbor was a friendly, tanned and blonde, gorgeous young man -- we speculated that she might just take him home. (ha!)

farewell Puerto Maldonado

Another quick flight to Lima, and then a little chaos at the airport. Most folks were flying home that night; only Ken and Mary and Wil and I were staying over in Lima. The bustle of bags and such meant we didn't manage to say goodbye to everyone, sadly, though we did manage to catch Jenny for big big hugs (and talked about how we'll see each other again in 3 weeks!). I may have said, "Get your liver ready…"

We got into a "Green Taxi" -- the official, airport sanctioned taxis -- for a fixed-price trip to our hotel in Miraflores. Turns out that the police had closed the coastal highway due to huge winds / waves over the roadway, which meant that all of the traffic had to crawl along 2-lane roads through neighborhoods. The trip took nearly 2 hours, leaving both of us and the poor driver frazzled.

our taxi driver's super cute air freshener!
The Hotel TierraViva Miraflores Lima was very handsome, however -- a nice room, a crazy big bed, a bathtub, and super cool, nice staff. So we got to our room, tidied ourselves a bit, and then went out to explore.

crazy big bed

Okay, our first impressions of Lima -- colored a lot by the taxi ride -- weren't super favorable. The flat grey sky (typical of Lima in July) didn't help. But we went for a walk, stopping at a cool little record store (so many Novalima albums!), then faffed around thinking about what to eat or drink… and then we stumbled across this:



We wondered if maybe, because the shrine was fenced in, if it was a safe spot for cats to avoid dogs. (Though I also did like the idea of the Virgin of Guadalupe also being "Our Lady of Feral Cats"…)

Turns out that the cats of Parque Kennedy are famous -- "the most famous cats in Peru", though also cause for some controversy. Some locals don't like them, thinking they spread disease. (Official government advice says to avoid the risk by not eating the cat feces. Ha!) But most people seem to be charmed by the cats, some of whom just curl up and chill out, while others happily interact with humans. Lots of volunteers feed the cats, and groups work together to trap-neuter-release them and some even arrange adoptions. Really sweet.

Adopta Miauu!!!


Eventually we stopped for dinner at Cafe Cafe, sitting outside and eating like kings. (And drinking Pisco Sours, of course.)

not as nice as the sandwich at Mutu, but still darn tasty


Wil was also charmed by the slightly crazy bathrooms…


it's like Versailles. In a toilet. 
another toilet panorama...
Later we stumbled into an oddly upscale mall, where Wil bought a couple of very cool Peruvian surf t-shirts from a brand called DUNKELVOLK. We also ended up poking around a huge and fancy grocery store -- but were sad that they didn't have ridiculous "tourist" Pisco. We did, however, pick up water and soda for the fridge at the hotel. I had a deliciously hot bath, we watched a bit of Esto es Guerra, and slept hard.

Blonde: "The skies in Lima are pretty grey and depressing in July."

Brunette: "You look great in that dress."

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