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Saturday, October 22, 2011

No Amazon Woman

  Well, I guess I can say I finished the canopy walk...two fingernails less and a strong understanding that I'm not, nor will I ever, be considered a trekker. And thank goodness for that~! We got our wake-up knock at 5:15 this morning, but I was already up. Huh? Me? Yeah, I know....but I fell asleep reading at 10, so actually got my 7 hours in.
We were the last to arrive at the boat, though we weren't late. The Peruvian family with 3 young kids, an English-speaking couple who could be from Canada or the US, and 2 Peruvian young ladies were on this trip with their guides. For some reason, the 2 girls are sharing the guide with the family, which is unfortunate for them since the little girl, who's the youngest and about 3, whines and cries a lot. Well, a parrot did bite her finger when she was offering it food at lunch... Anyway, our boat ride was 2 hours long—we went to their Explor-Napo lodge, which is 75 miles down the Amazon from here. We got there in time for breakfast...this is their most rustic place with open rooms and mosquito netting over the small beds, shared toilets and showers. We used the toilets...very rustic. Okay, my oh oh for the day is I'd spent much time covering much of my body in repellent before getting dressed this morning, and when I went to the bathroom at the lodge and dropped my drawers over this hole with a seat, I realized my butt was hanging out with no repellent on it! Now I know that's a little indelicate of me to mention, but hell, it was sort of funny...especially since in order to get any toilet paper, I had to swat away the mosquitoes and flies. I know my mom is reading this and wondering for the umteenth time why the hell I love to travel. Today I wondered that myself. We were given a nice breakfast, then took off with our guides in separate groups heading for the canopies—with 14 platforms varying in height up to 122 feet above the ground. They boast having the longest suspended canopy walkway measuring over 1/3 of a mile. But before we even got near the beginning of THAT, we had to hike in for an hour through the rain forest. We did see some little monkeys and many bugs and butterflies. Oh, and they have a toucan, a parrot, and a gray-winged trumpeter who hang out and pose for pictures at the lodge where we ate. That's also where the little munchkin got bitten.  And later the trumpeter attacked her during the shaman's talk.  She had a bad day too.
I was already done in by the time we got to the canopy entrance, and have I mentioned I don't particularly like heights...and really really hate suspension bridges? Picture a series of 2x8s surrounded by nylon cord mesh on either side and heavy rope above the mesh to hang on to. It was horrifying. At one point, I decided I was like the proverbial chicken crossing the road...just get me the fuck to the other side. That's when the first nail went....I rammed it right into the vertical rope that holds the canopy mesh up. The second nail cracked soon after. I thought going fast would get me out of there faster...but of course, there were 14 of these platforms to get to. It's not like I wanted or could stop in the middle of the bridge and admire the tree tops, check for birds or whatever else is crazy enough to live up that high. Finally we got to the last one, headed back down and guess what? Another hour's trek to return to the lodge, but that's not where we ended up. We were led through the herb/medicinal garden to an open, fly-ridden thatched hut where the shaman explained each plant and what it's good for, bringing each to us to smell or taste or rub on our arms. We fanned ourselves to keep the flies off and the humidity down....and at the end, he asked (through the interpreter) for a volunteer to be energized through his healing practices. Matthew jumped up first...the shaman first inhaled something that looked just like a cigarette, then blew the smoke into his hair and over his shoulders, then he took the bouquet of leaves of a hallucinogenic-producing plant and tapped his head and chanted, then went over his body with the leaves and tapped and chanted more. At the end, he had Matthew open his eyes and palms up, gave him some oil made from orchids and roses that smelled wonderful. He was told to rub his hands together and then put this on his face. He did the ritual with the father and his son, then I did it since no women would get up there...and talked Carla, the oldest of the two Peruvians, into joining me. It was very relaxing....and we finished just in time for lunch, so I didn't have to sit with the flies buzzing me any longer.
Lunch was back at the lodge's dining the way, everything here is buffet. The food isn't bad—very tasty and basic, lots of fish, salad, fresh vegetables, but last night's dessert was JELLO, so I'm hoping that's not repeated. Lunch today was fish, yucca trying to look like french fries, sweet potatoes, rice, cabbage and tomato salad with watermelon and cake for dessert. Oh, and lima beans, which I actually tried and liked. I think they always have some kind of beans for the vegetarians.
After lunch, I thought we'd boogey back to the Ceiba Tops lodge where we're all staying, but noooo....we had about an hour before returning, so it was suggested we head for the hammocks. All but the family did that and we all napped in hammocks under another thatched hut...and then it started to pour! I definitely felt this was the best part of the day---lying in a hammock in the rain forest, with rain pouring down protected by the hut. Just as it was time to leave, the rain stopped and we headed back. It did rain on us once and we had to pull down the plastic for the open windows, but no sooner did we have it all together and tied, the rain stopped and we hoisted it all back up. The ride was long and hard with small seats and aching legs. I was happy to return to our air-conditioned room!
This is definitely the most strenuous 'vacation' I've ever taken. Quite frankly, it's the last strenuous trip I think I'll take. We have 3 more days to look forward says we have a bird-watching hike BEFORE BREAKFAST, then head out after for more. I've already told Matthew I'll be skipping the bird tour. I'd skip the whole day, but it's the one where we visit an indigenous tribe who will trade for things, and we've brought things to trade—pens, pencils, beads... We're not sure what we have in store tomorrow....just hoping it's a stay-in-the-boat tour.

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