Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Amazon Rain Forest - Day 1 - Getting There

We had a nice late sleep-in (7:30 or so), a good 'ole Hotel Mabey breakfast (although dad was disappointed that there were no eggs), finished some last minute packing, and then met Sara from Amazonas Explorer at 9 for our ride to the airport. The ride was quick and we got through checking our bags (including getting Alex's staff wrapped in green plastic...that was an adventure) and headed in to our gate. Security was quick and we had plenty of time to hang around reading, writing, etc. Mom even found the colored frog that she wanted to get for someone from work!

Our flight was quick (about 45 minutes) and as soon as we got off the plane we noticed a big difference in the weather...it was hot and humid...mostly humid! The airport was tiny, and our bags were the last ones off the plane, so it was empty by the time we left. Mariana, one of our guides, and ....., the other, were there to greet us as well as a number of other Refugios Amazonas guests. We took a short bus ride to their Puerto Modonaldo headquarters and left most of our bags there. After getting some juice (passion fruit, I think), we boarded the bus again for a 45 minute drive on a dirt road, shared with many motorcycles (seemingly the preferred mode of transportation here), to the "port" on the river (the Tambopata River). We then got on a really long, narrow boat, with a big outboard motor, for a ride up the river to the lodge.

Did I mention that it was raining on and off throughout this time? First rain we'd seen, really, but when we were getting on the boat, it was coming down pretty good...enough so that the guides put down the plastic sides to keep the rain off us. We were given a leaf filled with a rice based lunch...very yummy...and told to just throw it over the edge when we were done...kind of weird, but kind of fun as well. We rode for about an hour when we had to stop to get off and "check in" to the reservation in which the lodge is located. Once we did that, we were off for another hour or so on the boat...total travel time on the boat was just under three hours. On this part of the trip, we saw capybara (some of the biggest hamster/rodents ever and one of the things Dylan really wanted to see), a couple of cayman (their word for alligators), lots of birds, and even a family of red howling monkeys...pretty neat!

Finally, we arrived at the lodge at about 5:30 or 6:00 pm. We had a five minute walk up from the river and were very excited to see where we would be staying for the next few days...our last in Peru! The initial impression was stunning, particularly since we were in the middle of the rain forest! The main building is large, has a bar right in front, a dining room in back and is very open. Our rooms we're quickly assigned and they were also very open..in fact, one wall is just not there!

We had a lovely evening...Mom & Dad had a couple of Pisco sours, the kids swung on the hammocks upstairs, and we even got to talk to a number of other adults about their (and our) various travels through Peru. One family, who's mother grew up here, and who's father is Belgian, had a 10 year old who was happy to see some other kids...they all played Sorry! on the boat ride and swung together in the lodge.

We had dinner...excellent lasagna, and then retired to watch the Peru / Uruguay soccer game (Peru lost 0-2) with all the staff in the back of the lodge. Actually, only Dad and Alex watched the game...mom talked with folks in the dining room, and Dylan and Persie swung...after that, it was off to bed (at about 9). Dad took a cold shower before getting under the mosquito nets, which was great!

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