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Blog of Trip to
Peru and Machu Picchu followed by a trip to the Amazon jungle in
Monday, May 7, 2007:
adventure began from Pearson Airport in Toronto. We met Cathy a
few hours before the flight and got our bright red GATEWAY TOURS
suitcase straps. Then she motored off to the Biz Class Lounge and
we make our way to the gate. It seemed we walked halfway to Lima!
Cathy joined us there just before the flight time bearing goodies
from the lounge. We took off on time, just after 7 PM and settled
in for a long flight.
Parked nearby but not our plane
May 8, 2007: We
landed at around 2am local time and waited a long time for Larry's and
Cathy's bags ( mine was one of the first off) [ Larry and Cathy were
rewarded for heavy luggage !! ]. That gave us a chance to pick up
some soles (SO-LAYS), the Peruvian currency, from an ATM. Customs
and Immigration were uneventful and, once out of the customs area, we
were quickly spotted by our escort ( thanks to those suitcase straps ).
Her name is Maritza Tarezona and she's very nice and efficient.
On our way to the hotel she outlined our itinerary and gave us
some advice. The Hotel Melia Lima is gorgeous and we were greeted
very warmly. Larry upgraded our room to one that included
high-speed internet and it is really a luxurious suite. Very nice
- like a honeymoon suite. [ see photo opposite ] Of course, we
discovered ( at 7am after 3 hours sleep )
that the internet connection was not yet functional. By 8 we were in a different suite. We went to the buffet for a
very nice breakfast and our first real chance to practice Spanish.
Then we decided to go for a walk and got advice at the desk.
Lovely area, obviously upper-middle class, but crazy busy
streets. Found a bodega and bought some bottled water, coke and
mystery booze -- looks like rum, but who knows?? Cathy suggests
it's a local brandy. She slept in and we make plans to meet just
before we go on our tour this afternoon.
The afternoon tour of the city of Lima was very
impressive. We began at the Plaza Major, after a bus tour of several
other parks and public buildings. We walked across the
Plaza, meeting a few vendors and watching Cathy negotiate with some of
them. From the plaza we could see city and federal buildings as well
as the cathedral and commercial areas. Lima is wonderfully clean and
open. We then entered the cathedral, which is amazing. We saw
Pizzaro's tomb and many works of art. We then headed through several
side and back streets to the Franciscan Monastery of San Francisco.
It is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Lima and still has a small
cadre of monks. I found the library particularly interesting.
We toured the beautifully tiled cloisters, and descended into the crypt,
known as the catacombs. Quite claustrophobic and grisly, but
impressive and thought-provoking. .
We then took the express highway to the Love Park on the edge of the
Pacific. It's beautiful, with mosaic walls and a large statue of a kissing couple. Finally, we went to a large supermarket and then
back to the hotel, cocktails and dinner, over which we lingered until
after 11pm. A lovely day.
of 8 May Lima
Pacific & Wednesday's
Restaurant (All time favourite)
Click the green link
for full size version of
any pic on this side.
Found the Jaccuzi (
There was no 3rd person taking the picture
Out the hotel window
L&J Love Park
Wednesday, May 9, 2007:
hotel is marvellous! Candies on our pillows last night, friendly great
service. Another delicious buffet breakfast. Then out along
the Pan American Highway, beside the Pacific Ocean to Pachacamac.
This site was inhabited for over 1000 years until the Spanish Conquest.
Each succeeding civilization used it as a meeting place and centre for
worship. The Incas built their Temple of the Sun on top of earlier
temples. The archeological site is so big that we drove to various
strategic places and walked from there. It had all been covered by
sand and overgrowth, but the dig and investigation continue.
Hopefully the photos show the story. We shopped there for some
souvenirs and then back to the hotel for lunch in our room. After a
bit of a rest, we headed out to the Museo de Antropologie, Arquologia y
Historia. It didn't look like a museum. It's laid out on one
level around a couple of courtyards and seems more like cloisters.
The displays are uncrowded, attractive and very informative. They
cover the history of civilization in all areas of Peru since human's first
arrived. We saw similarities to Chinese and West Coast Canadian
cultures in terms of art and technologies but unique features as well.
Like in so many other areas, when Europeans arrives they rode
rough-shod over existing, thriving local cultures. After a rest at
the hotel we went to the absolutely amazing La Rosa Nautica Restaurante
for dinner (This remains my favourite restaurant in the world - still by
2022). We enjoyed a 3 course seafood Peruvian dinner with
lovely local wine, terrific service and great conversation while looking
down on the Pacific Ocean. A bit of shopping brought us back to our
car and home to the Hotel Melia Lima.
Larry & Cathy at ruins
Photos 9 May Lima & Coast
Thursday, May 10, Cusco: We
were up very early in order to catch the plane from Lima to Cusco. During
the flight we had some amazing views of the sharp pointy peaks of the
Andes. Once we landed a porter met us to carry the bags and he connected
us with our local guide, Fabricio. On the way to the hotel he gave us the
rules to fend off altitude sickness - drink coca tea, eat lightly, rest
and get a small amount of exercise. So we went our rooms for a rest, had a
light lunch in the hotel and then walked to the main square. All effort
was difficult and Larry and I both developed headaches. The hotel is
lovely: part 17th century and part modern. The modern part is modeled on
the older part. There are courtyards, high ceilings, old looking wood,
good meals and attentive service. Cusco is a lovely old town dating back
to the Incas. The streets are at odd angles and slopes, very narrow and
full of traffic. After a second rest Fabricio took us to an Alpaca Factory
and a Silver Factory. Of course we shopped [ while the driver was arrested
for driving tourists without a licence ]. Then back to the hotel for
dinner and early to bed. We have to be up at 04:30 tomorrow for the train
trip to Machu Picchu.
10 May Cusco
Pachacamac Ruins 600BC-800AD
Mamacuna training school for
sacificial ladies and other occupations
Alpacas, as Driver was getting arrested
Friday, May 11, 2007, Machu Picchu:
( Happy Birthday Nicole ) We all had a rough and largely
sleepless night, so our "wake-up" calls at 4:30 weren't all that welcome.
Larry and I both had headaches and I had a roiling tummy. But we managed
to be packed up and ready to geo at shortly after 5:30. Fabricio took us
to the train station and handed us over to our guide for the day, Andreis.
The 3 hour, 45 minute train ride was interesting, with a great change of
scenery from the high, dry area of Cusco to the lower, jungly area around
Aqua Calientes and Machu Picchu. There were many people walking on around
or across the tracks, so there was much blowing of the train whistle.
we arrived a porter from the hotel met us and took our overnight bags, and
we boarded the bus up to the site. It's a rough road with many switchbacks
and the first glimps of Mach Picchu take you by surprise. We decided to
climb first to a fairly high vantage point and then work our way down. It
was rough for some of us whose climbing stamina wasn't up to snuff, and one
lady had serious problems with the climb. She made it to the vantage point
and heard the description of the site, but ended up going straight back
down to the base and spending a few hours waiting for the rest of us. One
other man was ill for the whole time and we had to wait for him a few
times as he disappeared behind rocks.
But the place is amazing! The
workmanship and the design are so impressive. And the site is vast. Of
course the pictures don't do it justice. We walked through the principle
areas, including the climb to the Sundial, the Condor and the Mother Earth
temple, right below the Temple of the Sun. By early afternoon we were all
tired, and had had enough sun, so we went to the restaurant and had a
really nice lunch. Eventually we caught a bus back down to the town. Our
guide escorted the 3 of us to our hotel, the Ikatena Machu Picchu Pueblo -
and suggested that we had seen Machu Picchu at its best and should check
out the hotel's programs. It turns out to be a great place. It's spread
out over area, has lovely gardens and walkways and is an ecological
preserve. Although we were too tire to do anything right away, we realized
the wisdom of looking here for tomorrow's activities.
We all rested for a
couple of hours before going to happy hour. On the way we stopped and
registered for a bird watching hike at 0630 tomorrow. Then we went to the
bar for our complementary Pisko Sours and met a charming young man named
Graham from Cornwall, UK who completed the Inka Trail this morning. We
also discovered Hilda, from our group this morning and she joined us for a
drink. She had later dinner reservations but Graham joined us for dinner.
It was a lively meal and we learned lots about his fascinating
around-the-world trip. Finally we made an early night of it. This was a
once-in-a-lifetime day for certain.
Saturday May 12: Machu Picchu. We
delayed breakfast until after the bird-watching walk.It was great - we saw
many different kinds of birds, most spectacularly the Cock-of-the-walk,
and several butterflies and hummingbirds. The interpreter was good at
seeing and pointing out the various varieties and we all had or were
provided binoculars. The breakfast was amazing and we all ate heartily.
Then we all went our separate ways. Larry headed back up to Machu Picchu
to climb the path to the Sun Gate. He said the hike up was taxing but
manageable; well worth it though: the view was stupendous as you get a complete
panorama of the valley, the road up and Machu Picchu itself. Plus, he said
was the experience of walking the last 2 km of the Inca Trail that
supplied Machu Picchu with all their needs in the 14th and 15th centuries. Cathy was off to the Spa for a hot rocks massage and I was off to the
hot springs in Agua Caliente; that's Spanish for hot springs.
Cathy emerged refreshed and happy from the spa. I enjoyed the
walk to and from the hot springs but found it a disappointing experience.
The hottest tub was not very hot and the water was not moving very rapidly. However, back at the hotel, I had time to sit and watch the birds
around the feeders and enjoy the tranquility of the Hotel. I did pick up
some insect bites in spite of using the natural citronella repellent
Over a cup of iced tea, Larry
regaled us with the stories of
the entertainment provided on the bus. On the way up a native-dressed
musician played sand pipes and something resembling a mandolin. Then on
the way down a young boy in native garb met the bus at every switchback,
and uttered a distinctive native cry. He ran barefoot on the direct trail
between the switchbacks. Then at the bottom he boarded the bus and uttered
his cry again and collected lots of tips.
We walked on to the station,
stopping in the market for Larry and Cathy to buy matching bush jackets (I must find one in another market after I find a cash machine ). Then onto
the train for the trip back to Cusco with Larry typing my account as we rode.
Of course for the first hour or two the scenery was great, but once it got
dark we had nothing to look at. The train crew solved this by staging a
showl First a traditional dance by a white-faced "clown" in a big square
hat ( traditional but I don't know what it is called. Then there was a
fashion show of alpaca garments, which of course were for sale afterwards.
We were met by a driver at the station and Fabricio caught up with us at
the hotel to arrange tomorow's pick-up. Then a leisurely dinner at the
hotel ( Casa Andina, again, same room and our stored bags were already
there ) and off to bed.
12 May Machu Picchu
The 3 hour, 45 minute train ride was interesting
We decided to climb first to a fairly high vantage point
and then work our way down.
Sunday, May 13, 2007.Cusco: (
Happy Mothers' Day to all of you mothers )
The day got off to a civilized
start when the bus picked us up at 8:45. It was a mixed group, who turned
out to be great to tour with. Everyone was enthusiastic and positive. And
a big bonus: we had Adriel as our tour guide once again.
Our first stop was
a roadside overlook with fantastic scenery. There were vendors there in
costume, accompanied by animals. So we took photos and gave them money for
posing. Then on to Picac market. It was particularly interesting because
on Sunday it's a local market as well as a tourist market. There were
interesting foods offered for sale as well as trinkets, blankets etc. As
well a group of costumed musicians were entertaining in front of the
The down side was that Cathy and I were separated from Larry and
he got lost in the maze of the market, delaying our departure by about 20
minutes. It was a worrisome time for everyone, so thank goodness it ended
well. We were still in good time for lunch at a great place surrounded by
gardens and facing the river. Such a wonderful spread! Then on to
Ollantaytambo, Adriel's hometown, where we climbed high into the ruins of
an unfinished Inca temple. It was amazing. There are still large stones
scattered along the route from the quarry. It was abandoned so suddenly
as word of arrival of the Spanish reached them].
By then, Adriel decided
it was time for a beer, so we went to a private residence displaying a red
plastic bag on a pole by the front door. That means there's corn beer
available: called chicha. After a traditional blessing ceremony, we were
seated in a room and the process of making the beer was explained to us.
then we were given samples of 2 varieties of it. Finally there was an
"international" competition of "Frog". A representative from each of the
nationalities present on the tour tossed coins at a complicated board,
trying to drop them though holes. The Canadian won! Hooray!
As if we
hadn't had enough climbing, the next stop was Chinchero, the highest of
the Inca cities: 3762 meters. We climbed steep streets and came out at a
lively market, where we also visited a lovely church with a hand-painted
ceiling. We had a couple of very nice encounters with young girls who were
bright and determined. One befriended us in Pisac, and eventually sold us
about 17 finger puppets. The other was at Chinchero. She asked where we
were from and when we said Canada, she shot back "Ottawa"! We
congratulated here on knowing the capital of our country and she said
"Will you give me one dollar in your money for my education? Larry offered
her $5 Canadian for 2 of the water bottle slings she was selling. She was
very hesitant until Cathy got out the money conversion chart and she saw
the value in soles. At that point she hugged and kissed us and happily
wished us everything good.
We went back at the hotel in time for Pisco
Sours before dinner. Once again we closed the dining room. Tomorrow it's
off to Puno (altitude 3872 meters) by bus.
13 May Ollantaytambo Chinchero
14, 2007: Puno and Lake Titicaca: [ As always click the link at bottom for
Another pretty early morning, as Fabricio was picking us up at 7am. He
delivered us to the bus and we said good-bye, and told him that he had to
see a dentist about a tooth that was really bothering him. Then we set off
The trip took 9 hours, including 4 or 5 stops and a nice lunch. We all
felt at a loss about the names of the places. The first was a colonial
Catholic church, which is also known as the American Sistine chapel
because of its beautifully painted ceiling. It was pointed out that many
elements of the Inca religion are also incorporated into native
Next we visited a site that the guide claimed rivals Machu Picchu in
archeological importance. It is called Raqchi. It is certainly impressive,
but doesn't have the same atmosphere and sense of mystery that Machu
Picchu has. There are high standing walls and many round storage
buildings, as well as houses for all levels of society. We stopped for lunch at a rustic place. The food was quite good and of
course there was a small tourist market.
The highest point on our route was La Raya and when we got off the bus to
admire the view, we were caught in a snow storm!!
Our final stop was at a museum of pre-inca artifacts. We didn't have long
there but what we saw of stone carvings was very interesting.
Finally we arrived in Puno and were met by Caesar and a driver who brought
us to the Libertado Hotel. It's rated 5-Star but fell short of our
expectations, considering the outstanding digs we had had!. It was also very
isolated from the town, though that may not be a disadvantage, since it
is on an island in Lake Titicaca facing Puno, and we take our tour by
boat from a marina on site.
We ate in our room and talked for a while, then Larry went off to find a
"Hot Spot" to do his computing and posting of all my account.
14 May Puno Lake Titicaca
There were vendors there
in costume, accompanied by animals
we climbed high into the
ruins of an unfinished Inca temple
Market along the way (covering for rain)
Tuesday, May 15,2007: Puno and Lake Titicaca:
[ click link at bottom for photos ]
Sunrise over Lake Titicaca!!! Oh, My!!!
We left the drapes open last night and about 5:20 I woke up, realized it
was light out and jumped out of bed. The sun actually appeared over the
horizon at about 5:50, so we had a long time to enjoy and photograph the
brightening sky. Just amazing ! We couldn't have had better [cloud
positions] view or a better morning for it. Sunrise at Lake Titicaca is
a widely known spectacular show.
A few hours later we had a lovely breakfast, then our car took us to the
dock in Puno to leave for Uros Islands. Puno is really not a beautiful
city but no one has pointed out anything of interest except the rather
pretty central plaza.
The Uros Islands; however, are a whole other world,
its almost magical to be among and on them. Our guide gave us a very good
overview of Lago Titicaca and the surrounding area during the 45 minute
trip out. We also saw interesting flora and fauna. Then we were among the
floating islands and were welcomed onto one of them. The islands are
constructed of blocks of reed roots tethered together and anchored to the
lake bottom, then covered with layer after layer of reeds. Every month or
so a new layer of reeds is added. Holes are left for fishing and fish
farming. Reed houses are built on the structure. They use fires for warmth and cooking, but
now have a few solar panels for power.
Their clothing is very colourful
and attractive and their handicrafts are first rate. We all did quite a
bit of buying. After sampling the reeds which are a major source of food,
we boarded one of their reed boats and were rowed to another island. The
inhabitants sang goodbye to us in their own language.
On the second island we found a small museum and bought a few more
handicrafts. Then we took the boat back to Puno.
We had lunch at the bar and then a siesta before going for a walk on the
island where our hotel is. We had hoped to encounter a heard of alpacas we
saw in the morning, but didn't.
We watched the sunset from the bar, then had a great dinner in the dining
room. The maitre d', Carlos, was very friendly and shares some of his
stories with us. He has 2 daughters in Lima, and only sees them every 6
months. This was another wonderful day.
Rumours have been circulating about a strike tomorrow that may make it
hard to get to the plane in Juliaca.
15 May Puno Lake Titicaca
16: Puno: We were treated to another
beautiful sunrise and so had time to repack our bags for the rest of the
trip. After a very pleasant breakfast, Larry and I decided ago for a
walk. We had heard that there was a restored 19th century ship at a dock
behind a nearby hotel. It turned out to be about 1 1/2 miles away, but
worth the walk. It was manufactured in Britain and brought to Peru on
mules across the Andes, in something like 1892. It was used until the
1960s, fell into disrepair and has been undergoing restoration since the
When we got back to the hotel, Cathy met us with the news that our
departure had been moved up and we needed to leave in 20 minutes. We
had difficulty checking out, but we still got away in time for one tour
before the airplane left.
The tour was very interesting. It was to
Sillustani, the site of pre-Inca and Inca burial structures. We climbed
quite high to see the structures and our guide, Cesar, gave us quite a bit
of the history and the symbology of the people buried here.
Then back to
Juliaca, to the crazy line-up at the airport, and on to Lima.
We were happy
to see Maritza, and get to the hotel. We got to the dining room at about 9
so will get very little sleep before our 2:45 wake-up call.
Thursday, May 17,2007: Iquitos & The Amazon. (
Happy 1st Birthday, Chloe!!! )
Today it is off to the Amazon Jungle part of our tour. We are on our
own on this part as Kathy decided to stay and visit more of Peru around
2:45am is not a really pleasant time to be awakened, but we managed.
Maritza picked us up on schedule at 3:30am and then we were whisked
through mostly empty streets to the airport. By the time we checked in,
paid the airport tax and found the departure lounge, we were ready for a
coffee and the yogurt we picked up at the hotel. The flight was
uneventful, though those on the other side got a spectacular view of
sunrise over the Andes.
Landing at the Iquitos airport we were met by the Explorama representative. We
drove through the outskirts of Iquitos, then to a huge market area which featured
everything from jeans to live chickens.
the road there are thousands of
motorcycle-driven 3-wheel cabs. No roads come this far so everything comes
by air or river.
We checked in at the company headquarters and boarded a power boat for the
fast 45 minute trip to the resort. It was a bit alarming since the Amazon
is full of debris ( mostly natural...no shoes like the Yangtzi River in
China ) but the driver seemed to
know his stuff.
The Ceiba Tops resort is lovely and serene, right in the jungle. We had a briefing
about services and activities and then were shown to our cottage. It's
rustic but comfortable. It was still a couple of hours before lunch so I
caught up on sleep while Larry tested the internet connection. We were
amazed there was one and it works very well.
Lunch was a delicious buffet
of local dishes. Then we had a bit of rest before going on a jungle walk.
We had gone only about 100 when it started to pour. We quickly dawned our
ponchos and headed back to the lodge.
After 15 minutes or so it stopped and we headed out again. Our guide,
Percy, pointed out a lot of interesting things. We saw monkeys cavorting
in the trees, a couple of centipedes, a tarantula, several kinds of birds,
termites and many kinds of plants, including the Ceiba tree, for which the
resort is named. We were hot and muddy when we got back so had to
immediately wash our pant legs.
We were happy to climb into the swimming poo,l and both tried the water
slide. A macaw came and perched on one of the tables by the pool.
Friday, May 18: Ceiba Tops on
the Amazon: Breakfast at 7:30 - nice variety of fruits,
cerial, eggs etc and the fun of watching the staff luring the macaw out of
the rafters. and through the door. using pancakes as a lure. It obviously
happens almost every day.
Then 8:30 meeting with our guide, Cesar, and a couple from Portugal and
Spain for a boat trip on the Amazon. It was an open 18ft boat with an
outboard motor. Unlike the trip from Iquitos in the larger boat yesterday,
we weren't asked to wear life jackets.
At one point we pulled into an
inlet, walked across a short distance to another flat-bottomed boat in a
small lagoon. There we saw hugh water lily pads with beautiful flowers.
On the way back to our boat we were met my a local family and their pets -
a 3-toed sloth and a red-tailed boa constrictor. We had fun with the sloth
- I swear it smiled at me - but the boa didn't seem too happy and we gave
it wide birth.
From there we went to another small inlet where we spent time fishing for
piranhas. Among us we caught 11 - Larry, the other lady and I each got one,
and the guide and boat driver got 8 between them. The Spanish man was
unsuccessfu,l so is supposed to buy a round of pisco sours.
Much of this took place on a tributary of the Amazon, perhaps the Nanay.
Its water is very black from the tannin in the leaves that fall into it at
its swampy source compared to the brown Amazon. Where they meet we could
see a marble effect of the 2 colours.
Along the way we saw many local people paddling boats, their houses along
the shore, several very interesting kinds of birds, and some gorgeous
We returned wind-blown and hungry for the piranha catch that will be part of our
lunch. The piranha were very good - cooked and delivered personally to our
At 2:30 we're off to an Yagua indian village. The first activity at the
village was to paint our faces with a fruit that was like paint. We had
stripes that were most attractive. Then we went inside a large thatch TP-like
structure and danced a ceremonial dance with the villagers.
Finally the elders demonstrated the use of blow guns and we both got to try. I
actually hit the target some 50 feet away!! Then we shopped for local
On the way home we stopped in the river to watch pink dolphins. We were
lucky enough to see them several times as they surfaced for air.
The other people on our trip were a young couple who lived very near Laura
& D'Arcy in Oakville, and a woman who is a medical secretary on a French
Island [ Réunion ] just off Africa. Back at the cabin we had to spend some considerable time
scrubbing the face paint off ourselves and our clothes.
Photos 18 May
the elders demonstrated
the use of blow guns
Local cab in market; there are 20,000 of these in Iquitos and very few
Arriving at our Amazon Camp called Ceiba Tops
A tree is explained to Janice by Percy our guide
huge water lily pads with
fishing for piranhas
a 3-toed sloth
Saturday, May 19: Ceiba Tops on the Amazon:
Well, today we certainly found out why they call it the rain forest!! It
was our excursion to the canopy walkway, so we had to be at the meeting
place at 5:30am. The weather look great, but as always we took our ponchos
for insurance. I really wished I'd worn Cathy's raincoat.
We boarded one of the larger boats for the trip to Explorama Lodge. Less
than halfway through the 1 3/4 hour trip the rain began. We put down the
side curtains and many of us slept for much of the trip. It was pouring by
the time we got there for breakfast.
Then we hit the trail through the jungle. It was deep in water so several
of us rolled up our pant legs. It took about 45 minutes to arrive at the
bottom of the Canopy Walkway. Then we began climbing by stairs and
suspended swaying walkways to the highest platform at 116 feet. It was too
bad that we were wet and cool. Our views were hampered by the rain, but
it was still an incredible experience to be in the tops of these giant
We gradually came back down to earth and slogged across more wet jungle
paths to the ACTS station. There we got a small boat, which took us
through a tiny creek back to Explorama. Along the way a giant Blue Morpho
butterfly suddenly appeared and flew over us and then trailed us for a few
minutes. How beautiful!
It was still early, so we visited a Shaman in the medicinal garden. He
explained and demonstrated a number of herbs and mixtures, then performed
a ceremony for Tony, and one for Annie to protect them from evil spirits.
It was the most relaxing thing. Then the Shaman gave each of us a tattoo -
the design of our choice. Larry got a scorpion and I got a hummingbird.
While that was going on, an anteater wandered in; I guess seeking shelter
from the rain. He was fearless and approached all of us. Cesar warned us
of his sharp claws, so we tried to keep him at a distance. Both Cesar and
the Shaman let him cling to them.
Back at the lodge we had lunch and then looked around at some of the
features - Charlie, an example of the world's largest rodent ( whose name
is not sticking in my mind ), some parrots, tucans, some odd kind of
chicken things, and so on.
We relaxed in hammocks for a half an hour or so before boarding the boat
to return. The rain had let up, finally, so the curtains stayed up. We
were all chilly, but had had such a good day that it was worth it.
After dinner we had terrific entertainment by the dance group from the
high school from the nearby town of Indiana and the White-Bellied-Frogs,
the Explorama staff musicians.
Photos 19 May
Sunday, May 20: Ceiba Tops to
Lima: Our last day on the Amazon and a chance to see how
people live these days along the Amazon.
This morning Cesar took us to the village of San Louis, about 10 minutes
by boat from Ceiba Tops. On the way we stopped at the larger town of
Indiana to buy candy for the children.
When we arrived we went first to
the home of a family in the village. We enjoyed their hospitality and ate
grapefruit [ sort of like a grapefruit, but harder ] with salt. They
explained that their house and all others were built by communal effort,
once the head person has agreed on a building spot. All land is owned by
the government and only businesses pay taxes.
The building material is
slats of local wood on a raised floor. There are 2 rooms, one for sleeping
and 1 for everything else. 9 people live there sleeping on sheets on the
floor under mosquito nets.
Larry took several pictures of the kids and they loved seeing themselves
on the camera screen. We will send prints to them via Cesar.
We saw 2 boats under constructions. One was going to be a river taxi and
the other was a canoe.
As we walked up to the school, several kids came along. The kindergarten
and elementary school ( 6 grades ) are breeze block buildings. Inside we
sat on chairs at the front and all the kids crowded into the desks. We
were entertained by them singing and a wonderful band of 3 boys aged 8, 10
and 13 playing flute, drum and maracas. They switched instruments once or
twice. They each played all of them! We danced with the kids [ thank
goodness we were competent as we learned their dance at the Yagua indian
village ], then they asked us to sing. On the spur of the moment all we
could come up with was a ragged rendition of Oh Canada. Annie sang
beautifully in her dialect of French.
We asked them what they wanted to be when they grow up and they told us:
nurses, doctors, teachers, lawyers, one secretary, one engineer, one
wanted learn English and be a tour guide and one wanted to be a builder.
We asked, " who, then, will catch the fish? They all said not them. Some
of them paddle across the Amazon every day to come to school. All have
been to Iquitos and some hope to travel to Lima someday. They asked us
what we do for a living. I think only Annie's reply of "secretary" ( and
maybe one understood Larry's answer engineer ) made sense to them. They were
unsure of what a librarian is or a tax accountant.
Then, outside, we distributed candy to everyone. [ actually when it ended
inside, all the kids ran out the door and I thought, home, but when we
came out we found them all in 2 lines, boys and girls, ready to receive
their candy ]. They tucked hibiscus blossoms behind our ears and came back
to the dock to say Adios. It was a wonderful morning. Then back to the
lodge to pack up and get ready for the return to Iquitos and Lima this
The boat trip to Iquitos was on the much larger and much slower Amazon
Queen. It was a great opportunity to see life along the river.
we careened through busy streets crawling with chollo-taxis and motorbike.
Since it was Sunday, everyone was out. Sometimes a motorbike would have a
whole family - father driving, 3 year old in front, mother on back with
baby in front of her.
We stopped for a last-chance souvenir market but we saw nothing we wanted.
At the airport we stood in line for about an hour before getting to the
check-in desk, but since our plane was late, still sat in the departure
area for a long time. The airport is very basic, and open to the air, so
every plane fills the place with noise. Just before security, an Explorama
agent, who, unbeknownst to us, had remained to see us through, bid us
Happily Maritzia was waiting for us at Lima airport and returned us to our
hotel with no fuss.
River Taxi passes
Lined up for candies
The Indiana Mia HIgh School Dancers
Home in San Louis
May 21: Lima: This was the first real free day of the trip,
so we took advantage of that. We lingered in our room, had a late
breakfast and took a limo to the "Indian Market". This is a 2 or 3 block
area in Miraflores, with hundreds of stalls in several buildings, selling
all sorts of Peruvian crafts. It's a good place to go at the end of the
trip, because nearly everything you've seen along the way can be bought
here. We picked up a few last minute things, then wandered through a
department store (not unlike the Bay, really), before hailing a cab back
to the hotel. It was our first time using a taxi here but we had specific
instructions from the person at the hotel desk. Tell him where you're
going, then negotiate a price before getting in. We figured out enough
Spanish to do it, and succeeded. Then to the local store for water ( another minor
exercise in Spanish and sign language ) and back to the room.
Nice to have a luxury suite today, since
we are spending a lot of time here. I also finally managed to mail the
postcards I've been carrying around. The hotel sends the bellboy to mail
them if you give him money for postage. Such service! (on the other hand
we found later that none of them arrived home)
Tuesday, May 22: Lima: Our wake-up
call was at midnight and Maritzia picked us up at 1am. We were through all
the lineups and in the boarding lounge by 2am. As planned we met Tony and
Tanya and waited for the boarding call.
Link to the Explorama Lodge Web Sites below