So, we didnt know too much about the Amazon, except that we were going to what was described to us as a frontier town of the Peruvian Amazon; Puerto Maldonado. A few months earlier, I had watched “Cannibal Holocaust”, and those were the impressions freshest in my mind…
It of course turned out to be nothing like it! The above is more for dramatic effect… We only carried DEET to protect ourselves.
We had decided to go to the Amazon when we first bought our tickets, without knowing what we would do there. Monday was spent pestering various tour agencies organising a spot for us, and choosing activities. We figured the Mystic Adventure offered by Explorers Inn sounded like a good thing. I was at the same time in the early stages of travellers diarrhoea, something which I kept with me for a good few days. This might have had an impact on my ability ot make rational decissions under pressure….
Anyways, we left on Tuesday with Sara clutching my knee again as we took of and landed only 40 minutes later. The usual pickup process and getting to know thy fellow guest rituals followed, and a 1hr bus ride and a 1.5hr boat ride later, we were at the lodge.
Explorers Inn was very nice, and we settled in to some nice warm days, 30 degrees and sunny every day (something we have been missing)! We even got a bit of rain in the rain forrest!
Halfway through the second day, was when the first alarm bells appeared. We were walking back along a trail, and we were casualy told, that “this is what you will be drinking with the Shaman”. Ok, we will be drinking? What do you mean? “For the Ayahuasca session, stupid!”. Ok, but what do you mean???
At this stage, we were starting to wonder, and inquired a bit further and after the penny dropped, we explained to our guide what we were expecting… something like sitting around a camp fire and observing a magic ritual. What it turned out to be, what we had signed up for, was a hallucinating inner spiritual cleansing process… Not quite what we had on mind… We bailed out! It would start at 9pm on the last night (not quite sure why it had to be the last night…) and last between 3-5hrs in room 7D… It would be co-ordinated by a spanish speaking (and no, unfortunately, we still arent too good on the old spanish) Shaman and our 21 year old guide translating. Not our cup of tea at that stage! Note also the vomitting and diarhoea that might come from this!
Anyway, aside from the drama of the defunct mystic tour, we managed to do a lot of rainforest walks and relaxing. The rainforest was really nice and most days started at 5am with the howler monkeys and all of the birds in the forest. Our footwear was strictly gumboots (surprisingly comfortable despite the odd 10km walk we did) and as it was coming out of the rainy season, there were stretches of slippery mud. We saw a lot of cool plants, many of which had medicinal properties for the locals. We tried a few of these, like one stem that we were told to chew on and after a while we realised that it had anaesthetic properties!. There were lots of cool relationships in the rainforest too, like the tree that was living with soldier ants; the soldier ants kept the area around the tree clear of any other growth (about almost a meter radius) so the tree would not have to fight for nutrients and the ants survived on food from the middle of the tree. Another one that sticks in my mind is the tree whose bark looks like a particular snake and within its root is the antidote to the bite from the snake for the locals!
We also went to a fruit farm across the river and got to eat the flesh of the chocolate bean. Very nice, but no, it didnt taste like chocolate…
We decided to stick to the nature stuff, of which I have a few pictures below:
I also included another video, of a crazy ant trail, they was very impressive! The Amazon is definately something we would do again!