Sunday, November 8, 2009

planes, trains, automobiles...canoes and boats

Have you ever sat or laid in a hammock for 40 hours straight?? That is what I just did to get from Peru to Colombia via the amazon river. It might sound relaxing and granted it wasnt stressful but after a while being crammed like sardines with a million local people on their hammocks swinging into mine, I just wanted to get out and exercise or move or something. But as I was told a million times, I had to keep an eye on my things so I didnt really want to go do a titanic flight on the bow of the boat or anything. Right now I am typing this and every letter I type my body reacts like I stair Ive climbed, its 1 billion degrees and I´m sweating like nobody´s business. So since the last bloggio, I had my first visitor from home and who else would pull it off but my adventurous MOM!! We have traveled a bunch in the past and are good travel partners, easy going and low maintenance but this one started off a little slower. First off, mom picked up a cold-flu or something and then I got hit with my kidney stone probs (boo, old story). Add my pain to not being used to traveling "like a tourist" and head with an english speaker to the most touristy place in south america...Cusco. Cusco also brought some altitude sickness our way so along with suffering from other ailments, we were hit with headaches and tiredness. I also was a little snappy because Ive been training to travel "like a local" and not be treated or act like a tourist that doesnt know whats going on and then I started off putting an unrealistic expectation on mom to just be the same as me, which wasnt fair. It was actually a good thing for me to let go and enjoy the gringo trail for a change. It made me look at myself and check my ego. So after a couple of slow days and early nights to bed in Cusco, we started our trek to Machu Picchu. Day one consisted of mountain biking, all down hill, for 4 or 5 hours on constant switch backs that reminded me of the tour de france. It was really fun. At the end of this day we lucked into a "free" couple of hours of white water rafting on classIII/IV river called Rio Urumbamba. The white water rafting was so much fun, constant excitement and the guides were trying to make it fun. They are not worried about insurance liabilities or lawsuits, they are trying to get us out of the boat and tip the boat. Day 2 consisted of us treking on an Inka Messenger trail that huggled along the river with amazing views, tricky steps and lots of heat in the highlands jungle. We even got to cross the river on a cable car which was pretty cool & then we ended the day in some very nice natural hot springs. Day 3 we hiked along railroad track and that is when my kidney stone decided to paralyze me. I wasnt sure if I was going to make it or not but in the end I pushed through, at my own slow pace, and survived in hopes of being good for our day 4, Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu day started at 4am hiking up 1800 stairs, not an easy task really. Then we did our tour around the city and chose to do another sketchy tough climb up a peak called WaynaPicchu. This climb is straight vertical, consists of ropes/cables to help you not fall to your eminate death and even a climb through a cave to get to the top so you get an amazing view of the lost incan city. All in all a pretty amazing trip for us. That night we took the train back to Ollaytatambo and then took a crazy ´collectivo´ back to cusco which got us there late at night only to get up for our early flight the next day. We got to Lima and werent able to get on the flight to the amazon so we spent a day in Lima, sleeping thru the night at 5pm again, and then the next day off to Iquitos. We land in Iquitos in the jungle and the very first distinction is the insane HEAT. It´s like 95 degrees and humido! The sweat begins (and still hasnt stopped). We then land ourselves on a trip 240km downriver to a lodge starting the next day. We have our own guide and have lots of things they say we can see and do there. Our guide is a guy born in the jungle and he is a legit man vs wild guy. He climbed a tree for a sloth so we could hold him, jumped in the water for a caiman for us to hold, cut trees that had the freshest coolest water to drink from its branches and knew every sound and deadly creature to warn us about along the hikes, canoe paddles & boat rides. The one thing I really wanted to see was these alleged pink dolphins. Louis made sure we found them, knew how to lure them towards our boat by playing a game with them and I even managed to snap a few photos. Mom & I swam in the amazon with pink river dolphins, pricess part 1. We went out on adventures a few times a day, saw eagles, hawks, monkeys, toucans, woodpeckers and a billion other birds. Then he took us fishing on this little lagoon. We had our wooden sticks with a string and hook and some chicken meat. The piranhas were biting like crazy. Mom and I both caught about 4 piranhas each within the hour or so, even tossing back some little ones. The piranhas are just as aggressive as you think, they are snapping there teeth at you as you try to get your hook out. We caught them, kept them, fried them, ate them and then kept there teeth as souvenirs, owned!...priceless part 2. So because I am always looking for any solution for my ever nagging, coming and going kidney pains I decided to ask these people about any local natural medicines. So they say sure, there is a Shaman who knows many natural remedies from the jungle and so I say bring him on. The last night, this crazy Shaman arrives to give me a "cleansing". We are going to drink Ayahuasca which I have some sort of idea what might happen, you are going to clean out your body, possibly vomit, and then feel million times better the next day. Uh huh, right. So the ceremony begins with him whistling and then singing in local dialect and some spanish and then we take a shot of some bitter liquid. He is smoking hand rolled tobacco cigs, I am already doubtful of the entire thing but when in rome.... So its dark, I feel nothing other than my seat is shaking because we are on an elevated platform and he is dancing his feet to his whistle. Then the vomiting begins and more and more. And then the hallucinations begin and they are unwelcomed. I´m spinning like I´m on that ride in Kings Dominion (VA people know) that you spin and you stuck to the wall except this ride never ends and I just keep vomitting and when Im not vomiting, I am tripping like someone slipped me an overdose amount of LSD. I mean crazy visions, scary visions (no thanks to the book I happen to be reading), each ex girlfriend from my life flying at me, I am told some evil spirits by this loco shaman and all I keep thinking is, I PAID FOR THIS? Then the other thoughts I keep having is, I want to get up and go to my room but though my mind is going crazy, my body is a limp noodle. At this point I feel like the shaman is a demon and I want to get away but cant. And so eventually I get the attention of a guide who isnt doing this crazy drug and he drags me to my room and I spend the night awake staring into what I thought was outer space, aka my ceiling. And so do I feel great the next day you ask? uhm NO, I feel the opposite of great for the next 2 days...exhausted, weak, slightly still hallucinating and still wondering why anyone would ever suggest that as a "healthly cleansing". So yea, that was an experience I wont be doing again. Are my kidney stones gone you ask, I dont know but I dont that had anything to do with my kidney stones and more to do with my "evil spirits." So anyways, that was that and the next day we returned to Iquitos and got to visit a crazy local market which had unheard of things going on from a US standard which was the last crazy experience for mom before she flew back to Lima and then the states. It was really good for me to have someone with me from home, especially my mom. I hope someone else makes it for a visit!!! Now I am in Colombia and I am trying to figure out what else I can do in the Jungle before heading towards the caribean coast. Hope all is well on the homefront, stay away from Ayahuasca! Saludos!!! (pictures later when I have internet with my laptop)

1 comment:

  1. Bad Ayahuasca! But the rest of the trip was amazing. It felt like I was on a National Geographic show.