#10 (final) Peru, March 27, 2000

Dear Everybody,

Well, I’m back!! Eight days in the Manu National Reserve in the Peruvian Amazon Basin was—well—it was spectacular, beautiful, wet, scenic, mosquitoey, full of gorgeous birds, hot, alive with animals, humid, fun, tiring, and wonderful! We had three really rainy times (it’s a rain forest in the rainy season) but otherwise fine weather. We had good food, good company and a good time.

There were three age groups—14 tourists in their 20’s, one woman in her 40’s and me in my 60’s. It was not an easy trip—Wilfredo, the 16-year-old assistant cook told Marilyn (40’s) that “la mujer vieja es valiente” meaning me (or “the old woman is valiant”)! Of the 16 tourists, five were from Australia, four from Switzerland, three from Germany, two from England and two from the USA.

We saw five kinds of monkeys (woolly, red howler, black spider, squirrel, and brown capuchin),

beautiful macaws and parrots in huge numbers,

 

 

 

 

and giant otters (seriously endangered) that weigh 66 pounds.

We saw toucans, rosette spoonbills, vultures, and many, many others—about 100 bird species.

 

 

 

 

One evening after dark we boated over to a small lake and using only paddles, canoed slowly and silently around this lake, shining flashlights, looking for caimans’ eyes. We spotted two of them! Overhead were a full moon, the Milky Way, and the Southern Cross—the first time I had seen it.

 

 

 

We traveled for a day and a half by truck/bus (a truck modified into a bus) to the end of the road, and then by boat for three and a half days (boat was an open canoe with motor and a canopy on top); stayed at the Machuginga lodge for two nights and then returned—an eight day trip. We slept in lodges with community cold water showers and toilets for five nights, and in tents for two nights—no toilets, showers or water except the river. On one of these nights it poured buckets and I had to get up three times to pee!

Getting in and out of the boat was a challenge—some of us made some limericks—here’s mine:

There was an old lady named Carol,
Who risked life and limb in great peril,
She got stuck in the mud
Was pulled out with a thud,
Then rolled into the boat like a barrel.

(This was not one of my best days!)

There were about nine staff—two guides and the others to run the boat and cook/serve. Actually there were two boats, one for the tourists and one for our luggage, supplies and cooks.

We took many hikes in the jungle with our guides chopping vines with machetes. We saw exotic beetles, ants, and butterflies. We encountered a deadly pit viper snake, and fire ants. There were giant kapok trees, huge fig trees, and many cecropia trees. There were anaconda and strangler vines along with many turtles, bats, three-inch caterpillars, dragonflies, butterflies, and moths—all exotic ad beautiful.

On the way back we stopped to visit an Indian family and the man, Filipe, returned with us as he has only on eye and had injured it very badly and now could not see. So our guides were going to take him to the doctor. Since it happened a week ago (he was macheting and something flew up into his eye) I don’t hold out much hope.

 

 

 

 

And now my jeans (worn eight days) nearly stand alone, my cleanest dirty shirt is beyond description, my shoes are muddy and my arms and ankles have huge numbers of ugly looking bites—in other words, a vision of loveliness! But I have time for maintenance chores today.

This trip really was the capstone on a wonderful visit to Peru. Tuesday I’ll fly to Lima, and I’ll be home on Thursday night, the 30th.

Carol

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