Waking up is challenging. The city does not sleep, like at all! I heard honking and motorcycles and music and boat horns and so many noises throughout the whole night.
Headphones only masked the noise and here I am. Breakfast is quick and refreshing and we quickly make way on to the boat. The boat ride is incredible. Up the Amazon river from the city of Iquitos to our lodge at the Expedition stop. Amy and Frisch (I think that was his name, pretty sure, okay not fully but oh well) from Canada and Antonio from Spain accompany me. Along the way, we stop at a small village along the side to check in with the locals. At the small port we see a freshwater grey dolphin playing with a fish. The poor fish kept jumping out of the water, then the dolphin would follow it like, “Nah man. Come on, I’m gonna eat you.” The Amazon is so wide it’s difficult to see one side from the other. It’s a very active river, something is always moving in it: logs, fish, dolphins, bugs, or birds.
The river is a dull brown from the surface to its depths. It is difficult to even see my hand as I place it through the moving water next to the boat. This is so majestic. About an hour into the trip we take a side bank onto the Tahuayo River. This river is much smaller than the Amazon and is very similar in color. Both sides of us are some of most deep greens and dense forestry I have ever seen. We pass by a local on his canoe. He is harvesting melon, which is a giant yellow fruit that looks like a watermelon.
We purchase for a few soles, which is the Peruvian currency, and continue along our trip. We arrive at our lodge, which tucks away above the water line just amidst a 90-degree turn in the river. It’s a sight to behold. The entire lodge stands about 6-8 meters (20 feet) above the floor on these wide columns, just in case the river overflows. This lodge sits 3-4 hours outside of the city of Iquitos. The only way in or out is by boat or walk. There are no roads that go into this area of the Peruvian rainforest. There are watermarks along the bottom of the lodge from the last flood. The dining hall is central to the rooms and the front of the lodge. Naturally I like this! After unloading in my room, we head to lunch. Everyone is so friendly at the lodge as we eat family style. This is a very international place. I meet people from Canada, Spain, Per, The U.S., Slovenia, and Venezuela.
After a brief and satisfying lunch, we set out on a hike around the lodge. The wet jungle is vibrant with sloths, monkeys, grubs, and so many different bugs. Mostly, we find birds. Considering there are just over 500 species of birds that live in this area, it is safe to say we see a few of them. We trek for over two hours and they even let me climb a really cool tree vine. We make it back to the lodge and grab a wonderfully prepared dinner. Quick dinner and right back out to go for a night hike. The night hike is supposed to bring out many more animals and bugs that don’t come out until sun down. I have my flashlight but it doesn’t do any justice to the night in the jungle. I have never been in a dark like this. The absence of light doesn’t even describe the darkness in this place. It is so brilliant! We find giant spiders immediately. One as big as my head! As we travel a bit further we find bats and centipedes and birds. Our guide hears a noise, which might be an owl monkey so we veer off the trail to see what we can find. No Monkey so we turn back to the trail and I hit my head on something. Before I can even look at what hit me, the guide and our other travel tell me not to move. They guide me away from the palm tree and examine my head. It looks like this.
They don’t say much but we make our way back to the lodge where we ask the doctor for a scalpel, some tweezers, and some iodine. About an hour later, 7 spikes, and one sore forehead, I am cleaned up and ready for bed. Donaldo and Antonio spent some good time cleaning me up.
The bed is tiny, even all 5’8” of me barely fit. The rooms are covered by mosquito netting, so I am not too worried about bugs and things. I am so thankful to be here in this truly inspiring place.