Monthly Archives: August 2017

Peru vs Bolivia Soccer Tonight!

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Lima is a busy city today. Besides Marc Anthony performing at one stadium tonight, 2 million people coming in to the city to shop, there is a soccer game, Peru vs Bolivia ….I hope I can watch at 9:15pm on hotel room tv.
We visited Lima's National Museum of Archeology, Anthropology, and History at Bolivar Square. There is so much history, but our local guide Jose discussed the ancient cultures of Chavin, Paracas, Nazca, and Wari in relation to how the Incas ultimately benefit. Three thousand years before the Incas, people of the Chavin culture built flat-topped pyramids facing east and known for their architecture. Two thousand years before the Incas the Paracas were known for their amazing weaving and skull modification. Full woven pieces are on display in the museum due to Lima having the driest desert on earth and things not decaying. We were looking at cloth 2,000 years old and it was hard to believe! There was a display on how they bury their dead and other displays on how skulls were modified since they believed the rich and poor should look different! The ancient culture Nazca were people 1,000 years before the Incas and known for their engineering. They created spiral wells so water could be reached 100 feet below. Nazca lines were drawn and from an aerial view a hummingbird or spider design could be seen. But how did they do it? Know it? Create it? Since they were not flying over the area? The Wari culture, 500 years before the Incas are known for the numerous trails from Lima to many places. The reason I am sharing all of this is we hear so much about the Incas, but in reality the design and creations are somehow passed down to the Incas as they did not have enough time to figure it all out for themselves. I hope the history I recorded here is accurate and I know there is so much more to know!
We then went to Lima's colonial streets where various French, Moorish, and Baroque styles of architecture were seen. The interaction between the Incas and Spanish conquistadors was not good. Contributing factors of smallpox, warring conflicts, hard labor at the mines, and no food, the population of what was the Inca country dropped tremendously.
We saw St Augustin Cathedral, St Peter Church ( Jesuit), the Presidential Palace and its changing of the guard…30 minute production with band playing and about 30 guards, Estacion Desamparados which once was a Church …for the Hopeless, then became a train station, and is now a place with literature from a Peruvian Nobel Laureate, Mario Vargas Llosa. People can freely read any of his 200 books while there at the building, but cannot take the book out.
We also visited the San Francisco Church that took 190 years to be built because donations were the only money the Franciscans accepted. When rich people paid for their burial under the church's main altar, or others paid less and were buried under a not so important part of the church, the money added up for more construction to occur. We walked a portion of the catacombs where dead bodies were draped in linen, no coffin, and covered with lime to help with decomposition of bodies. It was usually skull, pelvic and femur bones that remained, and the bodies would be crushed down to provide room for more bodies. There are 25 thousand bodies in the catacombs. With the current 40 monks, at their death they will be each in a coffin.
I mentioned before there are 1.3 million Chinese people in Peru, mostly in Lima. We had lunch in Chinatown…it was pretty tasty.
Lima has no train, light rail, or subway so traffic is a huge problem as our bus made its way across the city. Of course, with a concert and soccer game tonight it was additionally congested. Later we will be out for dinner at 7:30. Tomorrow is an early rise with flight to Cuzco! Yeah!

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Lima, Peru…

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Today… Breakfast, met with our guide and new fellow travelers, then walked to the nearby Miraflores area. Yes, I am out of the Amazon and have returned to the hubbub of honking cars, motorcycles…no one really stops for a red light or a pedestrian in a walkway unless there are many pedestrians! I will say the streets of Lima are clean. Our group stopped at a fruit stand and were shown a passionfruit which I have had as a delicious morning juice. On the street, I exchanged some American bills to Peruvian money from an official person and did not need to go to a money exchange. If I did not have cash and needed to use a debit card, I then would have to use an ATM. (Be sure it is an official exchanging your money!)
The day was for us to explore Lima, with its perpetually gray sky….sort of an ocean mist that seems to hang on the city and never burns off during the day. While walking on my own, I bumped into 2 people from our group and we headed toward the Pacific Ocean. Surfers and paragliders were out, along with many people shopping at a mall on this holiday of Santa Rosa. We enjoyed drinks while at the ocean and later joined everyone at a local restaurant for dinner.
What I learned in Lima today: Independence Day celebration in Peru is July 28…more history to come. Peru is mostly self-sufficient, but their apples come from Chile. On some street corners you will notice a yellow circle with the letter "S" written in it to designate a "safe" place in case of earthquake. For me, some spots were debatable as I looked up to see the tall building nearby. Chichamorada is a dark-colored non-alcoholic drink made from dark corn and tasty. Pisco sour is Peru's popular alcoholic drink and mixed with pineapple and passionfruit it is a moradita, or if it is with chocolate it is an algarrobina which tasted like a dessert. I had a craft beer called Maddok; not bad! August 1 is National Alpaca Day. We stopped in a few stores selling solely alpaca products….beautiful, pricey jackets, hats, scarves, etc. Kennedy Park in Miraflores area has beautiful gardens, trees, pedestrian walk and bicycle trail.

Monkey Island…then Fly to Lima…

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Bird walk early this morning with bird sightings added to our previous list, plus our boat ride to Monkey Island, we have seen 100 birds on this trip! Wow! As we traveled to Monkey Island we saw some freshwater pink dolphins…amazing! Peruvians do not kill dolphins as they have many superstitions about them. Dolphin young are born tail first with a "midwife" dolphin helping the newborn by pushing its head to the surface for its first breath. The baby dolphin returns to its mother for milk, but otherwise is protected by the male.
Monkey Island is a private project where young monkeys have been brought there for the last 20 years and when about 4 – 5 years old the government hires workers to walk 6 -7 hours into the jungle to release them with their species. The monkeys brought to the island may have been injured, found, or no longer wanted as pets. At the older age, it is believed the adult will be successful in the jungle…very different life for them than simply coming in to this protected area and eating fruit on platforms. Here they can frolic around in the trees or hang on people. There may be about 200 monkeys on the island. We walked on the island to see some of the monkeys that were not show-boating in front of the visitors.
Back to our resort…
Time to write, pack, eat lunch and then a 2.5 hour slow boat ride to Iquitos on a big boat, Amazon Queen. Later tonight we fly to Lima …and possibly meet our other travelers for the main trip…or maybe not since it will be midnight by the time we get to our hotel.
I will be happy tomorrow to know I will not be on a boat! I have a slight rocking sensation from all the time on the water. In Lima we can have our own time while new travelers receive their orientation walk.
Luis, our Amazon guide, is a fantastic birder! He will retire from this work in a couple of years. Anyone interested in his phone number or a trip, birding, photography if you have a super zoom, then I think he could really help you out….I think he will had his number out when we leave. He does not do email. Luis grew up on the river, his wife in the jungle. They now live in Iquitos. Luis is flying for the first time and going to Lima for his first time this coming Sunday to visit a sister he has not seen in 14 years! We tried to explain airport security, especially since he carries a jackknife on his belt all the time. I hope he has a great visit, but knowing the little I do about him, he will be thrilled when his 10 day vacation allows him to return to the Amazon!

Into the Jungle Today!

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Some travel….Early rise to take 5 minute boat ride to Indiana, where we checked out farmers market and food booths for those stopping here to eat while traveling on the river, then 20 minute ride in motorkar (3-wheeled Honda motorcycle front wheel and seat for 2 people on the back 2 wheels), and finally a 45 minute boat ride to Explornapo Lodge for breakfast. This lodge is deep in the Peruvian Amazon and most rustic with open air bedrooms, pit toilets down a path, and the lodge is away from everything … it is on a tributary 2 times away from the Amazon River! A capybara met us at the dock…they are strange looking animals.
Interesting to me, locals are in low hung boats (dug out from one piece of mohagany tree) and no one wears a life jacket! We do!
We hiked about an hour to ACTS (Amazon Conservatory for Tropical Studies) and climbed a tower to begin our rainforest canopy walk! Highest platform of the 16 platforms was 117 feet in the air. It is the longest treetop walkway in the world. The guide pointed out 12 more birds, thus our total has reached 70 birds in 3 days! The walkways had a bit of a swing to them, but not a problem, and very safe. I loved it up there! My clothing was drenched in sweat…truly wet! Bugs were not at all a problem, yet I do not know where I got the bite above my right eyebrow! (Looking forward to low humidity!)
Peru is not chopping, or clear-cutting, their trees as often heard about Brazil. Besides the Yagua's, the other traditional villages comprise of "Indians" deep in the jungle, according to our guide.
Back at Napo Lodge, we had lunch and then to ReNuPeRu, an ethnobotanist garden where 2 shamans from different villages presented information on how to use various plants for medicine. The one shaman is teaching his daughter, and he explained he started learning from his father and grandfather at age 14. The last part of his training with a master shaman takes 5-6 months and involves a hallucinogenic drink one time per week. The other shaman is from a different village, Spanish is their common language, and he held a ceremony with the group to take away negativity. I asked if pharmaceutical people have visited. Yes, they were given similar info as we received, but they have no idea what those individuals did with their info.
We left and headed back in reverse of how we came to Explornapo Lodge. I saw the government's medical ship that stops at each village for a couple of hours. Plenty of small boats on the water and then we arrived at our luxury accommodation!
No night walk tonight, although we did take one last night and saw big frogs, and tree frogs, along with caiman, bats, owls, fireflies and a porcupine high up in a tree. That night walk was after a high school dance performance, but tonight we relax and will be up for 6am bird walk. Although we have had rain on us, it seems to come at the appropriate time, such as when we are eating or sleeping!
Thanks to Peter Stonewall Jensen who did his Peace Corp work with a Peruvian archeologist and then wanted to visit the Amazon River. He then decided others should visit it too, and made arrangements for the construction of the Explorama Lodges at 3 different locations of varying levels of comfort! Peter died in 2010.