Amazon River: Iquitos, Peru to Leticia, Colombia

Leticia is the Colombian border town that mirrors Peru´s Iquitos. Cept it´s much nicer. Notably as there less of a sex trade than Iquitos, which could give Phuket a run for it´s money in the seedieness stakes. Again, plane or river are pretty much the only way in or out of Leticia, so it´s still very much gateway to Colombia proper. I don´t really feel like i´m quite in the land of cocaine and kidnapping just yet. The climate and vibe is much more like a tropical island. Yes, I´m gradually edging one step closer to the Caribean.

The change of currency messes with your head slightly if you, like me, have the division skills of a 7 year old. Too many zeros hurt my brain. $10 is 20,000 COP (I´m aware i´m not American, there just isn´t a pound sign on this keyboard.) Anyway, it´s a cute town to wait a night for a flight, but not for much else. Therefore there is nothing much exciting to report, namely because after yesterday I am NEVER speaking to new people again. Well, for a day at least.

So far I have restrained from relaying some of the truly painful conversations I have had with people. I would litch be here all day. But as i’ve nothing else to report and this pushed me over the edge, here are a couple of snippets.

I should pre-empt this by saying I have met some amazing people in my 8 weeks so far. They mostly fall into the following categories:

´Border friends´- People you meet in planes, boats, trains and misc transit. Sometimes they are nice but they serve a purpose i.e split taxi fares. They are for small talk and purely practical. You can completely bin them off afterwards. They know the score.

´Puppies´ – They follow you around all lost, waiting for you to come up with a plan and are major keenos. You have to fake destination them to get rid, or make up elaborate lies to spare their feelings and disappear in the night.

´Peops you´d defo go for a drink with´- these are good, qwerky, or interesting. You like them, you share funny stories, they are good company for a night out.

´Keepers´- As in you´d be real life friends, or often they remind you of your real life friends. They are harder to find but amazing to travel with when you do, you wake up after a week or so realising you´ve spent every waking minute together and you are still laughing. You are in mourning and wear black for the day when they are gone.

Then there are the frickin nightmares.

So. I gets on the 12 hour ´fast´boat at 5am. The ´slow´ boat is a hammock in a cargo ship. Sounds romantic, but it takes 3 days. Snooze.

It´s already crowded and I sit next to the nearest normal looking gringo. Travel 101. In a slight aside, I also need to vent about the crazily loud bible basher and his god squad mate that were sat behind me. American. Course they were. So multiply the word ´loud´by ten. They tried to handout leaflets on how to be mormans. Tragically, they weren´t even my biggest problem.

Back to gringo boy. He opens quite normally. His name is Paul, he´s Canadian, he started in Ecuador and is heading to Brazil, yada yada. All was good for 10 mins. He lured me into a false sense of security where I didn´t even have a chance to get out my ´don´t dare talk to me´ earphones. Then he dropped this gem:

Me: So what do you do…

Him: Oh im only 21 (strike 1) I´m still studying.

Me: Whatcha studying? (this is a good test to spot the international rah gap ýars. They are sometimes in disguise and the accents throw you.) All are still obsessed which which Uni they went to though and still do rah courses like Law, Architecture :) Medicine etc.)

Him: Evolutionary sciences, majoring in Herpetology and Etomology.

Me: Huh? (turns out it´s lizards and bugs and stuff). Me, once he´d explained: That sounds interesting (lolling in my head at my own fakeness)….I saw lots of things in the jungle yesterday like this really cute frog….

Him: (Cuts me off.) It wasn´t a frog.

Me: Oh (confused) I´m pretty sure it was.

Him: It would have been a toad. Do you know the difference between a frog and a toad? (Not stopping for an answer) Well…..They he proceeded to tell me in excruciating mind numbing detail.

This is at least ONE hour of my life that I won´t get back people! I kid you not.

He then decided to tell me (Er, didn´t ask) about ALL of the Amazon animals, birds, insects – and that´s rather a lot, until I finally snapped and grabbed my laptop. You might be thinking that given I was in the jungle, it might be nice to learn from such a scholar. You know, in case I wanted to win a pub quiz, but GOD he was a patronizing snooze.

The next two hours were made bearable by watching Fight Club. Brad at his best (by which I mean fittest.) He worked on his research paper whist I did this. Then it started again.

(We get given food on the boat….)

Me: Grr, there is no veggie option. I can´t really eat this beef/rice meal they have given us. Do you want it?

Him: I’m a veggie too.

Me: Oh ok, i´ll give it back then. No worries.

Him: Hang on. We shouldn´t waste it. (Get ready for this…)

“I am more of what you call a ´flexitarian.´??!!”

Me: WTF is that then?

Him: I only eat meat when it´s been sustainably/organically/locally/ethically sourced. Or if there is nothing else, or if I order it accidentally in a restaurant(!?) I don´t agree with Peru´s treatment of livestock or sustainable fish farming. I think it´s obismal that they don´t eat more vegetables and fruit.

Me: Firstly: You are not a veggie then, and ´Flex-a-whatever´is not a word. Second, It´s quite a poor country, maybe they have other things to worry about rather than popping to a deli for organic humus and blueberries, like we do?

(Luckily, before I chin him, a guy come round giving us a drink too….)

Him: Oh no (Looks like he´s going to cry.) It´s cola cola.

Me: (In my head) FFS! I know what´s coming.

Him: I only drink natural juices back at home, never fizzy drinks. I only go to independent supermarkets too. Coca cola are the epitome of evil blah blah blah…….

There are no words. I spent the rest of my 12 hour journey with my head out of the window so the river spray and boat engine drownded out his voice. If I could have hurled myself out of there I would have done.

Iquitos & The Amazon Jungle, Peru

Same country, different world. Two hours on a plane from Lima swaps you Starbucks for Camu Camu juice, skyscrapers for bamboo huts, and llama jumpers for mosquito repellant. Breaking news; It’s finally 30+ celsius again. Woop. After refueling in Pucallpa it was jungle from here on in. From the plane you get the first birds-eye view of the ‘giant S’ bends of Amazon River. Bit like a jungle Eastenders credits.

From Iquitos, the largest city in the world unreachable by road, you can do excursions along the Amazon to stay overnight in jungle lodges. Actually, ‘lodge’ implies plush wood cabin in the Alps. Just to clarify we are talking bamboo hut on stilts with no electricity. With hammocks though, goodie.  You also visit village tribes where you wear a grass skirt, dance around, and fire a blow pipe. As you do. Canoeing down the Amazon does feel slightly like an elaborate ride at Disneyworld though, you have to keep reminding yourself it’s real.

So lets forget the flora and fauna, the best bit is the wildlife of course! Here my top 5 spotted list, in descending order of love/hate:

1) Macow Parrot – He landed on my shoulder and scared the shit out of me, then we made friends: I have a vid clip of me and him chillaxing in a hammock like BFF’s.

2) Sloth – In case you were wondering what the hell was in the pic at the top. I challenge anyone to look at its dopy face without laughing.

3) Spider Monkeys – Babies cute, adults psycho. They were so rough. Not like chav rough, like yank your hair, bite your jugular and jump all over you rough. These were tame ones obvs.

4) Anaconda – It’s Britney Bitch! circa MTV awards. It amused me for this novelty factor alone.

5) The tarantula. We went on a night safari to look for them, so it’s my own fault. They live in the ceilings at the lodge. Three words; Don’t look up.

Other highlights included pink dolphins. They would have made the list but lose marks for being so dam intelligent they stayed just far away enough from our boat so you can only glimpse them in your pics. Spoilsports.

For lowlights, it would have to be our night safari with Ally Alexhandro (like the song,) who was suspiciously enthusing about every leaf/crackle of a branch. Total stoner. This would have been funny apart from a) he was carrying a machete b) he took us into a lagoon in the pitch black to canoe around and look for alligators.  What a joker.

Couple of vid clips to follow when back in civilization. Well, Colombia!

Lima, Peru

Lima is Peru’s huge capital city with weather a bit like Manchester (i.e glum). In all honestly, in my 4 days here I have only really ventured 10 mins at most around Miraflores, i.e the posh bit.

The reason for this can be summarized in two words; Roof Terrace. Ooo I do love a roof terrace. Especially the one at the lovely Kokopelli hostel. Actually, I haven’t really mentioned Hostel Wars yet, so here it is in a paragraph.

 Throughout Bolivia/Peru especially there are two camps; Wild Rover and Loki. Three if you count The Point, which I don’t. All big, trashy, party places, but fun if you are feeling social (and are 23 like me – insert your own jokes here.) Having stayed in all three Wild Rover’s I’m obviously a bit of a brand junkie, only there isn’t one in Lima.  I only managed a game of pool in Loki before realizing I knew, and was avoiding for a reason, half the people in there. You would not belive what a small world South America is. The other half just looked annoying. Don’t judge me. It’s rah rah gap yar (‘Year’  to you and me) central.

I did leave Koko long enough however to have possibly the BEST lunch so far. Made even more brilliant as it was with Peru’s answer to Paris/Nicky Hilton. Loves it. They were friends or a friend, well actually the sisters of Arnaud’s gay best friends boyfriend. Still following? First they picked us up in at least a £50k Chelsea tractor, then tossed the keys to an actual valet outside a mega posh restaurant?! I would have actually pretended to be Posh Spice and pull this off, had I not been wearing denim cut offs and flipflops. The Peruvian Hiltons were chic designer head to toe, and shiny shiny hair. Obvs.It would be easy to hate them, apart from we opened like this:

Peruvian Hilton Sister 1: So what’s your name?

Me: Kim

Peruvian Hilton Sister: What?

Me: Kim, Like Kimberley?

Peruvian Hilton: Oh, like Kim Kardashian?

Loved her from this point in. A couple of Passionfruit Pisco Sours and 2 hours of talking about boys, The Hills, the entire backplot of the real life Kardashians and we were all new BFFs.  Who needs Spanish when you have the international language of MTV! The food was delish too. I had Ceriche again (Raw fish with lime and onions). Yes, it freaked me out slightly eating completely raw fish, but after Guinea pig-gate earlier this week anything seems normal. It’s a Lima speciality so had to be done, and was actually very tasty. Maybe they took pity on my outfit, but very generously the Hiltons flashed the gold card and picked up the bill. I want to be them.

Huacachina, Peru

I know what you are thinking after my hating on the Canyon;  She’s had 48 more hours of extreme sports?!

First was the previously trailed white water rafting, just outside of Arequipa.  Nothing short of brilliant. I was just about to drop the bold sentence;  ‘the the most fun I’ve had on the water,’ but then of course there is tubing in Laos. Let’s not be silly. NOTHING beats that. WWR is a close second however.

It was terrifying yet hilarious from start to finish. First you have to wear a fetching wet suit/life jacket combo. Always a winner. Then we cascaded along level 3 & 4 currents. It only goes up to 6. Ambitious for first timers I thought. There were 4 of us in the raft, plus our guide; Americo. Absolute nut-job. If there was a rock, he was determined to smash into it and/or beech upon it. This happened A LOT. We are not completely sure of his credentials, but apparently the solution is to ‘Right side cross,’ i.e all pile our weight across to one side and jump up and down until we shifted. It’s a miracle we didn’t capsize. I definitely want to do it again, and realised having being landlocked in deserts/mountains for so long, I love a bit of water in my life.

In complete contrast then, I spent my Sunday afternoon in the desert dunes of Huacahina. It’s one of the more bizarre places I been and is a little town near to Ica, close to the Nazca lines, and on the way to Lima. The whole town is one circular street long around a lake, that once was an oasis in the middle of huge sand dunes. There is one thing, and one thing alone to do here; Sandboarding. It’s exactly like snowboarding, but err on sand.  Now, I don’t want to be cocky, oh no hang on, I do! but turns out I shouldn’t have under estimated my vast snowboarding experience (read one day last April in the Cairngorms Scotland,) as it actually served me well. Despite one or two tumbles I Ripcurled my way down there looking totally cool (in my head anyway.) Always one to take it too far, in  my excitement I decided to ditch the board and see how fast I could rolly-poley could  down! I’m such a 5 year old. I also now have grains of the Peruvian desert in every single pore, and despite 3 showers I doubt they are moving anytime soon. Dirty.

AND I haven’t even mentioned the best bit yet . To take you up to the biggest/bestest hills they speed you up there in a dune buggie. Like huge ones off of the moon landings. We get in, and there are over the shoulder harnesses. I was stupid enough to saw ‘what’s with the Alton Towers strappage for a little drive in a buggie?!’ Famous. Last. Words. As soon as we hit desert we were practically airborn, flying across impossible angels and humongous drops at god knows what miles per hour. 

Here is a vid of me falling over. Lap it up.

Right, I think this adrenalin junkie needs a lie down now.

Arequipa & Colca Canyon, Peru

My life last week was all about school and early nights. The routine was shopping, celeb gossip, trash cable TV and lunch with my fave BFF’s Rachel and Poppybobby.  This is not her real name, Rach misheard her and wondered what a ‘bobby flower’ was. Anyway, it stuck. We hardly touched a drop of alcohol. Life was good. In other words – hanging out with girls.

What happens the second I get to Arequipa however is quite the opposite.  This is what happens when you hang out with boys. The same ones off of the Death Road/Potosi Mine and other misc dangerous activities. Fresh off the night bus, I’d been here  all of 5 mins before I’d been led astray into Pisco Sour cocktails. This was at 10am. It’s a Peruvian favorite, kind of like a Mojito, but with egg white. Not as wrong as it sounds.

Not only do boys do silly things like mid-morning drinking and Pizza Hut (Ok, I loved this too,) but they also do crazy things like exercise. Imagine. Which is how/why I spent my last 48 hours with my nemesis: Colca Canyon.

More than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Colca is about 100 miles North West of Arequipa. People come here to see Andean condors fly, which was beautiful and worthwhile. They also come here to trek. When I say trek, I of course mean 12 hours of sheer vertical scaling/tumbling down the Canyon walls. Other people had proper walking sticks and mountaineering gear. I was rocking my £2 primark pumps and pink llama jumper. It was all a bit Legally Blond.

Now, I hate to sound all wimpy, but it may have just been the hardest thing I have ever done. I would like to say it was pleasant in parts, which it was. Namely the Oasis Bungalows with a pool/hammocks that you get to stay the night in the Canyon base. On day two we got woken up at 5am, and by 5.02am we were sweating and gasping for air in the moonlight, a fraction of the way up. Confession time; as the boys raced ahead, I had a little moment sat on a rock, lip quivering, and prayed to be air lifted out of there. Hilarous. However, tough cookie that I am I had a little word with myself, stuck on some Beyonce (girl power and all that,) and got my ass up there. At a snail’s pace mind, actual mules passed me on the way. As the boys told me at the top, you have to go through a little physical pain from time to time in life, it’s good for the soul apparently. Which I kind of agree with, now that it’s over.

We are going White Water Rafting tomorrow?!

Previous Older Entries

An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

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