Archive for the ‘Peru (5/22/07 – 6/2/07)’ Category

Day 12 – 6/2 – Amazon Jungle/Travel Home

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

6:30AM – We got up early and packed our bags before heading to breakfast at 7:30AM.

8:15AM – We hoped to catch some piranhas for lunch, but first we stopped off to look at lily pads. The lily pads produced flowers that die in 24 hours. Another interesting thing about lily pads was that they produced prickly vines. While looking at the lily pads, we met some locals with a pet three-toed sloth named Lucho. We finally got to our fishing spot and casted our fishing poles. Pretty soon, we could feel little nibbles. We stayed for quite a while, but no one was able to hook a piranha. Both Alice and I were able to yank a fish out of water, but we weren’t able to completely hook it. I’m not sure if they were piranhas, since we only got a quick glimpse, and they were pretty small.

11:00PM – We got back to the lodge to wash up, finished packing, and then had lunch at 12:00PM.

1:00PM – I’m not sure why instead of the smaller, speedier boat, we took the larger, but slower ship back to Iquitos. The view of the Amazon River was nice. The sun was out, but with a lot of cloud cover, making it pretty pleasant. We were able to see a lot of rainbows along the way since it was raining in the distance.

3:30PM – We arrived at the Explorama main office and collected our luggage that we had left there. The Explorama bus then took us to the airport to catch our 5:35PM flight to Lima.

7:10PM – We arrived at Lima, collected our bags and then found a spot to repack our luggage, since we didn’t have time to do that at the Explorama office. At first we had trouble figuring out the check-in location for international flights, but Alice used her Spanish and asked a security guard for assistance.

8:30PM – Dinner was at the food court again. I had Papa John’s pizza again. Alice decided to try the Chinese-Peruvian dishes of Los Manos Menaras. Alice didn’t like it, but I found it to be pretty good. After dinner, we went to the souvenir shops to get rid of all our soles.

9:30PM – We got a voucher from Amazing Peru for entrance to the VIP Club at the airport. At first they had problems with our voucher, but they eventually let us in. There were lots to do in the VIP lounge. There were hors d’oeuvres and drinks. The first two alcoholic drinks were free. There were two plasma screen TVs in the entertainment room. There were even a bunch of stations where you could play Wii. Alice and I chose to go upstairs to use the computer and surf the net.

11:15PM – We were finally forced to leave the VIP lounge and board our plane. The plane took off on time at
11:40PM and we were scheduled to arrive in Houston fifteen minutes early.

6:00AM – We landed in Houston and got through customs pretty quickly. But that just means we got to wait longer for our connecting flight to SFO.

Day 11 – 6/1 – Amazon Jungle

Friday, June 1st, 2007

5:45AM – Don’t these people ever sleep? We got up this morning at 5AM so that we could catch the boat at 5:45AM. We had to get to the other Explorama lodge that was deeper in the jungle. The trip took about two hours. At the speed we were going, it got pretty cold since the boat only had overhead covering, and the vinyl windows were rolled up.

8:00AM – When we got to the other lodge, it was time for breakfast. This place was very different from our lodge. Ceiba Tops has air conditioning and hot water. This place was more of what you would expect from the jungle. Yes, we’re wusses. Here, although the rooms had roofs, there were no windows you could close, just curtains for privacy. And, those curtains don’t do much good in keeping the critters out, so people have to sleep under mosquito nets. Speaking of critters, there was a parrot who could speak both Spanish and English. There was also some furry pig-like creature called a capybara named Charlie. We didn’t pet him though, since he’s been known to bite.

9:00AM – Roldan and a family of three hiked to the treetop canopy walkways with us. But Kathy, the mother, was afraid of heights. She took the ground path, while the rest of us climbed to the top. From the tree tops, we saw a lot of flowers, trees, and bugs. We tried to look for birds and monkeys, but were unsuccessful.

11:00PM – We hiked back towards the lodge and stopped at the ReNuPeRu Botanical Gardens. Over there, we met a local shaman who explained to us how natural plants could be used to treat diseases and ailments. He even demonstrated a healing ritual on several of the members of our tour. The shaman also had a pet anteater named Dennis. I got to pet it while it laid in my lap.

12:00PM – Buffet lunch was served once again. And they even served the wild monkeys here. They hung a bunch of bananas outside, and pretty soon the monkeys came to feast. At first the black colored monkeys came. They were little guys who were about the size of squirrels. When they left, some even smaller brown monkeys came to eat.

2:00PM – We headed back to the Ceiba Tops Lodge by boat. It was going to be approximately a two hour ride, so I napped most of the back.

4:00PM – Once back Ceiba Tops and back to our rooms, we washed up and relaxed for a while. Since there wasn’t a TV in the room, I watched shows that I brought on my pda.

7:30PM – Buffet dinner was served, and it was one of the guides birthday. They sang the longest birthday song that I have ever heard. Roldan stopped by to tell us our itinerary for tomorrow. We thought we got to sleep in, but he actually scheduled piranha fishing for us in the morning. So we went back to our room after dinner and prepared for another early day.

Day 10 -5/31 – Amazon Jungle

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

6:30AM – I woke up this morning not feeling so hot. Maybe the lack of sleep is finally catching up with me. We grabbed a quick bite downstairs and then checked out of our hotel. We couldn’t wait to get out of this place.

8:30AM – A big Exploroama bus full of tourists picked us up from our hotel. We made one more stop at another hotel before heading to Explororama’s main office. We dropped off our luggage and boarded the boat. We left the dock from the Italia River which meets up with the Amazon River. It would be a 45 minute ride to Ceiba Tops, our hotel.

10:30AM – After applying bug repellent, we met up with Carlos for a walking tour. He showed us birds, trees, frogs, fruits, and bugs that are commonly found in the jungle. I’m not sure how much Alice saw though; she was busy swatting away mosquitoes.

12:30PM – Lunch was a buffet where many common Peruvian dishes were served.

2:30PM – Roldan took us on a boat to see the pink and gray dolphins. It took a while at first, but we finally got the hang of watching the dolphins surface as they came up for air. The gray ones are female and the pink one are male. Next, we visited the Yagua tribe. They performed many ceremonial dances passed on from their ancestors. I even joined in on the fun. After the performance, they brought us outside to try their blow darts. When it was my turn, I missed to the left. So I recalibrated a little and hit the target on my very next try. Alice gave it a go too, but she couldn’t get any distance. After that, we went to the area where the tribe was selling their hand crafts. I got myself a miniature version of the blow dart. Watch out everyone; I’m armed and dangerous!

4:30PM – We got back to the hotel and rested before dinner.

7:30PM – We had buffet dinner st the lodge.

Day 9 – 5/30 – Travel Day

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

8:00AM – We got up early to pack up all our stuff and still managed to miss breakfast. I wasn’t hungry anyway, but Alice wanted to try this pastry shop across the street.

10:00AM – We checked out of our hotel, and Carina took us to the airport. She had already checked in for us online and provided us with boarding passes for both flights. As we were saying our good-byes, we were hit with a strong aroma of coffee. She explained that it comes from an area near Machu Picchu. We sampled the coffee, and it tasted pretty good. And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t normally drink coffee. We liked it enough that we bought two bags of coffee grounds for $4 each.

11:55AM – We caught our flight from Cusco to Lima. The airport tax was $4.23 per person.

2:00PM – We had lunch at Papa John’s at the airport. If I’m not mistaken, Papa John’s is a take and bake pizza joint in the States. But here in Peru, or maybe just at the airport, it’s a fast food pizza joint. Alice and I each got the 6″ ham and mushroom pizza. The meal also came with a drink. The pizza and drink sure looked bigger on the menu though.

3:20PM – We flew from Lima to Iquitos. The airport tax was $6.05 per person. It’s not that much money, but it kind of sucks that you have to leave the gate, pay airport tax again, and go through security checkpoint once again even when catching a connecting flight.

5:30PM – Since today was a travel day, it was pretty much going to be a boring day. We were supposed to be picked up from the airport, and we were going to call it a day. Little did we know that we were in for some excitement.
As we exited the baggage claim area, we were swarmed by taxi drivers. I tried to politely tell them that we already made travel arrangements. They were pretty persistent though, and wanted to see our voucher and know where we were going. They sounded like they were trying to be helpful, but we were wary of being scammed. At first, we were pretty annoyed, but when no one showed up to pick us up we started to get scared. We were stranded in a foreign country where we barely spoke the language.
With no other choice, we had to trust one of the locals, and he helped us call our hotel. It turned out the the hotel had arranged for our airport transfer and not the travel agency. We were given the wrong information and wound up missing our ride. The local then arranged for one of his taxi buddies to take us to our hotel for 12 soles (US$4). So our lives were in the hands of a complete stranger.
I don’t think he was a licensed taxi driver, or maybe there’s no such thing in this country. There were no decals indicating that his car was a taxi. I’m not even sure you could even call it a car. It was raining, and you could barely see out the window. Because of the humidity, he would have to wipe his windshield with a piece of cloth every five minutes. And every so often he would have to stick his hand out the window to give the wipers a kick start. Oh, and don’t forget about his diving. He was passing up trucks and tuc-tucs (those three-wheeled vehicles that resemble a motorcycle that can carry two passengers in the back) by hopping into oncoming traffic and dodging back into our lane. I kind of wanted to close my eyes until we got to the hotel. And to top it all of, the taxi driver had to stop for gas. It’s a good thing we weren’t in a race for a million dollars!

6:30PM – We finally got to our hotel, Victoria Regia, in one piece. Still scared out of our wits, we decided to stay in the hotel and ate at the Café Bar. Alice ordered the dorado (catfish) in garlic sauce, and I had the the beef in cilantro sauce. Both dishes were surprisingly good.

11:00PM – We finished packing for the Amazon. We are only allowed a duffel bag’s worth of clothing since space will be limited on the boat. Did I mention that I want to go home? Hopefully my mood will flip 180 degrees when we get to the Amazon tomorrow.

Day 8 – 5/29 – Cusco

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

11:30PM – We finally got a chance to sleep in, and we took full advantage. I did wake up pretty fatigued though. Can I still blame it on the altitude?

2:00PM – Two seems to be our typical lunchtime now. Today, we had lunch at Kusikuy. Guinea pig is their house dish. At first we were going to order roasted guinea pig, bit that dish takes one hour to prepare. Alice ordered the fried guinea pig instead, and I ordered bull’s heart kebabs (another typical Peruvian dish). The bull’s heart tasted like typical red meat, but it had a hint of crispness when chewed. This restaurant did a nice job presenting the guinea pig. It had a piece of carrot in its mouth and a half tomato for a hat. I tried a piece of Alice’s guinea pig. It tasted good, but you really have to work for your meat.

3:30PM – Our first place to visit for the day was the plaza outside of the Iglesias La Mercado. Since we had a museum pass leftover from our guided tours, we visited several museums. First, we went to Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporaneo, where paintings from the 20th century were on exhibit. Then we went across the Plaza Cusipata to get to the Museo Historico Regional. On display were ancient artifacts such as arrowheads, ceramic pottery, and even a mummy. Finally, we made it to the Museo de Santa Catalina, a half on hour before they closed at 5PM. It was a church that was converted into a museum.

7:30PM – We had dinner reservations at Cicciolina. I had the taglietelle with lamb ragu, and Alice had the beef fillet with risoto. Both dishes were good, but Alice’s choice was better. For dessert we split a filo pastry filled with warm fruit with a side of cracked pepper ice cream. Both Alice and disliked the ice cream; it was just too weird to have spicy ice cream.