Location: Tahuayo Lodge and Blanco River, Peru
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Greetings from the Amazon! I am typing this entry in the "computer room" of the Tahuayo Lodge. I must say that it is surprising to have Internet service this far out in the jungle. They provide AC power via a generator and solar collectors, and somewhat-reliable Internet via HughestNet satellite. Can't complain. Other services offered here at the lodge include laundry (30 sol = $12 USD by the bag) - but they can't guarantee it will be dry! Dryness is quite elusive around here. In fact, a T-shirt that I wore into the rain on our first night here is still quite damp. Quick-dry clothes are a must!
After our very long day #3, we started our day at a comfortable 8AM this morning. After a hearty breakfast in the lodge (usually consisting of cheese/ham, eggs of some style, and a variety of fruit, some of it fried, as well as a local exotic juice), we boarded the boats for a full day trip. We headed up the Rio Blanco, viewing wildlife along the way (including a three-toed sloth - very cool!).
Near a village, we stopped the vote for a visit from Dorila (sp?), a common woolly monkey who allows passing boats to enjoy her company in exchange for some fruit. We were able to pet the monkey's soft back as it ate fruit (bananas and oranges) from our hands. Several students listed this as a highlight of their trip so far.
After another hour's journey upriver (about 2.5 hours total) we arrived at Laterra Firma, a wildlife zone known for its frogs. We disembarked, loaded up our backpacks, and headed off for a 3.5 hour hike through the dense, hilly jungle.
Our guide Wennie (short for Wennington) pointed out the wide variety of flora and fauna, including rubber trees (it was very cool to see the latex sap oozing out), termites, ants of various varieties, and many types of frogs, the most poisonous among them quite colorful:
We learned how to fashion a roof from fronds, how to drink from a vine, how to spelunk a bat cave (watch out for guano and the vampire bat!), and how to swing across a river:
By the end of the 3 hour hike, we all agreed that we were the hottest we've ever been. The heat, humidity, sunshine, and hilly terrain combined for some brutal conditions. We rested within a covered hut as our guides prepared lunch for us (rice and chicken cooked over a campfire) and helped us 'go native' with headgear and makeup made from the 'paprika plant':
We appreciated the cooling effects of our ride back downriver in the late afternoon. After some well-earned rest and dinner, we were visited by a local shaman who explained his various medications to us (via translator), passed them around so that we could smell them, answered our questions, and then performed some ceremonies for us. It was very interesting to observe.
Thanks for reading!