BootsnAll Travel Network

Welcome to the Jungle

I literally had to drag myself out of bed the next morning as I was so exhausted from the night before. We only had one day in the jungle and I didn’t want to waste it. Justin, Lucia, and I met downstairs for breakfast and spoke with the owner about what we could do in a day. Justin wanted to see a village in the jungle nearby. A lady who worked at the hotel needed to go to the village to take care of something so she came with us to show us the way. We hired a taxi to take us as far as he could before he thought the road was undrivable. Having seen a whole other level of bad roads the night before, I thought the driver gave up to soon. He agreed to meet us back at the spot in a few hours. He pulled away leaving the four of us alone on a dirt road completely surrounded by jungle. We set off walking and I soon began to feel very grumpy as I often do in hot sticky air. My mood was lifted a bit when we began to see brightly colored butterflies and parrots. You could here monkeys howling in the distance. On the way to the village we passed several outlying houses. They all were made of thatch and had one room. Outside was a covered cooking and laundry area.

After about 2.5 hours of walking we arrived at the village. The village was home to over fifty families. The houses were again all thatch. The only modern building was the cinderblock school house which did have a thatch roof. We were met by two ladies who immediately asked us to pay 10 soles. Apparently many tourist come this way as the village is fairly close to town. After paying the money, one of the ladies took us to her house and showed us around. She gave each of us a glass of a fermented corn drink. In times past the women in the villages would make the drink by first chewing the corn flour in their mouths. Saliva activated the starch breakdown. They would then spit it out and make the drink. The lady assured us that this was the non chewed variety. The family had a large flock of ducks, chickens, geese, and one very large turkey. The turkey kept puffing up around the geese trying to show dominance but the geese just ignored it. They also had two red parrots that hung around the house. They had been domesticated by the family and we were able to feed them.

Following the living quarters tour, she showed us the fish farm that was set up by an NGO. The villagers now use it as a source of protein and income. There was a river nearby that Justin and Lucia decided to take a dip in. I couldn’t make myself do it as I have done too much research about nasty things that live in tropical waters. I had myself tested for parasites when I came back from my year long trip and nothing was found. I wanted to keep it that way.

When it came time for us to leave, rain clouds decided to move in. Within minutes a full on tropical downpour started. I was soaked within minutes and we still had about an hours walk. Little streams that we had crossed earlier were now raging so my shoes were squishing with water in no time. The rain of course stopped when we got back to the car. Back at the hotel, we changed and hung our items out to dry. This was a futile gesture though as the rain appeared again so the air was saturated with water. We hung around the hotel and waited to catch our evening bus back to Cusco.

The bus left at about 7:30 pm and the ride was supposed to take about 10 hours. Unlike the car we took to get to the jungle, this bus was designed for the rough roads. The inside of the bus was full of bags of coca leaves that I guess people were taking to the market. There was also a very drunk man who sang constantly. The bus drove along for a few hours stopping only for a pee stop and then again a few minutes later when the drunk man decided he needed to pee again. Bladders emptied, our next stop was at a police/military road block. Apparently the people on the bus weren’t supposed to be carrying all of these coca leaves. (I still don’t understand why they were seizing the leaves as coca is legal in Peru.) Several heavily armed men boarded the bus and began to confiscate all the leaves. The man sitting next to me decided to hide his and stuffed his bag behind his back like it was a lumbar pillow. So here we are with these heavily armed men searching under the seats, in the luggage racks, and on top of the bus for the coca, and I end up sitting next to a smuggler. Well it appears his pillow ploy worked and they didn’t find his bag. As soon as we were on our way again, he pulled it out, passed it around, and everyone started chewing again.

I managed to sleep on and off during the ride to Cusco. We arrived around 5:00 am and took a taxi back to Justin’s apartment. They went to bed and I pulled out my air mattress and took a nap on the floor. Waking up about 11:00 am, we headed at to Jack’s (I told you about this place in an earlier entry) for breakfast. We did some shopping and then spent the afternoon playing on the Internet. Lucia eventually left for her Quechua language class. Justin and I went to the grocery to buy some items to cook supper with. While we were preparing supper, I started to feel nauseous and my nose started running so I figured I was catching a cold. I kept getting more and more dizzy. Lucia came home from her class and immediately went to throw up. Apparently, she ate some bad food so she went straight to bed. Eventually I gave up on the idea of eating supper and went to lay down on my air mattress. Withing an hour or so, I was in the bathroom throwing up. I threw up several times during the night alternating with Lucia. We both most of ate something at the same time that didn’t agree with us.

The next morning I woke up feeling very drained and sick. I had trouble standing up. The problem was I had to go to the airport to begin the 24 hour journey home. We managed to get me to the airport and I made it to the check-in counter. I was so happy that I would finally be able to get my ticket and go find a place to lay down as I was really struggling to stand. Unfortunately LAN Peru couldn’t find my ticket. I had changed my tickets through Delta and paid them $250 for the honor of doing so. Well for some reason no one told LAN Peru about it. At first the agent told me that I would have to buy another ticket which wasn’t happening. She said I could go call Delta. I told her it would be better if she called Delta since she would have a better idea of what to ask them. She left me to go call so I just had to stand there with my head spinning while I waited for her to come back. It took about 30 minutes to sort this out. By the time I made it to my gate and could sit down, I was feeling really sick again.

The flight Lima went okay and I started to feel a little better but not much. Once in Lima I had to get my bags as I had to go recheck in with Delta. Well wouldn’t you know it that Delta was also having problems with my ticket even though we had just called them a few hours before from Cusco. I had to stand at the counter again with my head spinning while we got that sorted out. Finally I was able to make it to my gate and board the plane for the seven hour flight to Atlanta.

Stepping off the flight to Atlanta was like stepping into a prison. On my travels, I often here people complain about how unfriendly arrival procedures are in the US and I couldn’t agree more. Other countries use the same security procedures as the US but they tend to be much more discreet about it. Not here. The first words we heard as we left the plane were not ” Welcome to the US, Could you please form a single line?” No it was a man barking orders to get a single line while a man next to him passed up and down with a drug dog. Passing them, we then made our way to the customs area where we were met by a lady who showed people what line to get in by screaming “HELLO, HELLO OVER THERE”. Finally we made it to the baggage claim where they had a video playing of people saying “Welcome to the US”. By this point its a little late and I think they could have done it in person. During my wait for my flight to Baton Rouge, I managed to find a news article about a $10 fee Congress wants to impose on people coming into the US. The money will be used to promote the US overseas and let people know how friendly we are. The sheer stupidity of this is mind boggling. We are going to make people like us by charging them for something that was formerly free (for countries with a visa waiver or on top of the stupendously high visa fees we charge everyone else). We will do this while not solving the root of the problem which would be our customs agents’ lack of  people skills. Not only that but other countries will impose the same fee on us in retaliation. Europe was already threatening to do so. They do it every time the US slaps a new fee on foreign travelers in the name of security or in this case friendliness. I try normally not to complain on the blog but this aggravates me time and time again when I reenter the US.

Once we were formally in the US, the people got a lot friendlier and more helpful (I hear that a lot too from foreign travellers.) My final flight to Baton Rouge went well and by this time I was feeling a lot better. I got home, went through the mail, and slept for sixteen hours straight without waking up. I hadn’t done that in years.

So ends the Peru trip, now I will have to think up what my next adventure will be. I am leaning towards taking the train through Russia and into Mongolia.

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