Talk about planes , trains and automobiles! Well to be fair, it was more like a canoe ride, a 40 walk, a 2hr speed boat ride, a short bus journey to the airport, and a flight to bring us back to civilization yesterday after an extraordinary weekend in the Jungle. I don't think I have ever been more isolated, or cocooned as we were in the beautiful floating Sacha lodge. As soon as we stepped on board the flight on Friday morning we knew we were going to be entertained. The representative had checked us all in but for some reason he didn't put people traveling together sitting together. Everyone started moving around confusing the poor locals. Clodagh, another Irish lady on the tour ( I know how funny to have two Clodagh's, I never quite got used to it all weekend and kept looking when he husband , Eddie called her!!) took advantage and moved in next to friend. Wanda, I think the name says enough an overexcited American lady quickly proclaimed. Oh well there must be something wrong with me then! The tone was set! There was a group of 20 American avid bird watches on board who spend the short flight shouting between themselves about all the places they had ever been to and checking out their bird books. Shame on you if you didn't have your book bound like the others!! They seemed to forget or maybe just show no regard to the 50 other people on board!! To be fair though they became a constant source of entertainment for us amateur 'twitchers'! We even threatened Tom the other morning that he is showed any more interested in spotting birds we push him into their group!! They showed serious dedication getting up at 4.30 every day!, however noisy as ever and waking us normally before our 5.30 wake up call!!
Our group for the weekend consisted of another Irish couple, a retired solicitor from Dublin and his wife ,their friend Ruth, and a newly married south African/Australian couple on route to Sydney to set up a new life. Like the return journey, the journey on Friday morning was very exciting.The atmosphere was almost electric, between the exaggerated enthusiasm of the Bird Twitchers ( Ruth christened them this) and our more moderate excitement, we set off on a two hour speed ride into the wilderness. When we arrive we had our first encounter with the intense humidity of the jungle ( nothing dried for the weekend and most of the clothes in our cases came back damp!!) strolling down a guided path for 40mins only to be greeted further on by some more little canoes that would take us on the final leg to our lodge. I can honestly say I still remain spell bound by the chorus of sounds that greeted us always as we drifted upstream. It was incredible to sit still and absorb them. After our orientation talk by our lovely laid back guide Paul we had the afternoon free to acclimatize a little and after dinner, we set off on our first night walk. Things got exciting as we spotted a boa snake, an usual sighting for those parts curled around a tree peering at us. I know, I should know its exact name. However You will be impressed! Mum and I bought the little bird book available at the lodge and wrote down the names of everything we saw every evening. I know, very diligent!! She has brought it home with her so I am left with my shocking short term memory and no resources!
And yes, we were called at 5.30 the following morning. On with the Wellington boats and off we set on the canoe for an hour trip downstream. Gliding along was so peaceful but soon lulled us back into slumber, it was seriously difficult to keep our eyes open.The subsequent 3 hour hike revived us slightly amidst the palms, trees, vines and elongated tangled roots of the forest , eyes peeled to see if we could spot anything. Our Native guide, nicknamed Colombia provided us with some fascinating insights into the medicinal properties of various trees. Nature does really provide for all that we need. He had the most incredible intuition pulling out little toads and frogs from under leaves. How he ever spotted them I do not know. We got back at 10.30, a days work done already and had chill time before and after lunch at 1. At 4 we regrouped after a very solid two hour nap to head to the canopy towers. 45m towering above us we got the legs going hiking up the steps. The bridges in between provided both a sense of exhilaration and fear. There were one to many loose planks but keep looking ahead seemed to be the best strategy! This was our introduction to Birdlife and with Paul's Telescope we saw lots. Two white vultures perched supervising the forest, Parrots, Tucans, screeching and playing. The sun came out which made a perfect scene for sunset. After dinner again we took a canoe ride out on the Lagoon. What a beautiful night with the stars above us, the chorus of sounds around us and the faintest movement from the water. Perfecto!
Sunday was much the same routine but we really felt the early morning start & sleep deprivation ! We went straight back to bed at 10.30am when we got back and had to be called at 1.10 for lunch. The afternoon walk finished off just as I had hoped it would with an encounter with lots of monkeys. I don't know why but I was really keen to see some monkey. We had had one or two sightings but yesterday was really the grand finale.. an acrobatic display from a array of different species. The day finished off perfectly in another way as well. On the canoe ride back the heavens opened and a torrential downpour started. The rain was hot just as you might expect and although I am really not found of the rain, it kind of felt like it made the whole experience more authentic. We were in the rain forest after all!! Poncho's on, Paul paddled as fast as he could but as one American said to us when we landed ' the lot of you looked you are coming back from a witches convention!! There had been a few Harry Potter comparisons made through the weekend!!
My mum left this morning, hopefully not too tired so I'm back 'da sola'. She took all my photos included those of the weekend with her. I'm slightly paranoid about the key being stolen so you will have to wait to see the printed version of the photos from the weekend. There are some great ones and the photos capture much more accurately the magic of this place. I am flying to Lima tonight and then on the Cusco on Thursday morning in time to start my hike to Machu Piccu on Friday.I got my hair trimmed last night in Quito. Girls, a bargain! $5 for my hair and $3 for a manicure so I'm all groomed for the next leg! Ahh well, you've got to maintain standards, you never know what's around the corner!!!