Thursday, July 29, 2004

Alright, you all must be over this by now, so this is the last of the what I did on my holiday posts.  This has been kind of like show and tell, except I am too spaz to actually show you any photos so you just have to put up with the tell.

So I left you as we flew into the jungle...

Puerto Maldonado
We arrived to instant humidity and 30 degree weather, very big change from Cusco. (Note, I think I have previously spelt that as Cuzco, I don't know what is right.  It might be like Venice and Venezia, or else I might have made up the Cuzco spelling.  But then these entries have completely ignored all other grammatical rules, madly switching tenses and using incomplete sentences so inventing name spellings fits right in.  I apologise for all that and my next entry - not this one - will be grammatically correct.  Possibly.)
We took a brief bus ride around the town, viewing their two main attractions, the joining of two rivers, and the local market.  Rivers were big, market more interesting as it seemed to be the only place in town to buy anything so it sold everything from furniture to oranges.  Great local experience.  Also saw a demonstration by the local school kids outside the police station, turns out they were protesting that the police look harder for a missing school mate that had recently disappeared.    A bit sad really.
Oooh, finally, this is where the tarantulas fit in.  We left some luggage and things at the local office of the lodge where we were staying in the jungle.  The office was a open plan, mostly open walled design, with a soaring thatched roof.  Mr R glanced up at the roof and then took great delight in pointing out not one but two giant tarantulas sitting on the roof above our heads.  I freaked out and he laughed.  Then one jumped off the roof landing on his head.  Ok, well maybe that last thing didn't happen but I wish it had because he deserved it, and it makes for a better story.  In actual fact they just sat there but I kept an eye on them because you can't trust large spiders in the jungle.  Or anywhere else for that matter.

So it was with great trepidation that I got onto the boat that would take us up river for about 1.5hrs to the jungle lodge.  I mean if there were two tarantulas on the roof at the office - imagine what the lodge was going to be like.  On the boat trip up we spotted some red howler monkeys, first time I have ever seen a monkey in the wild.  Also saw a capybara grazing on some grass on the river bank.  I have loved capybaras since I read Cappybary by Bill Peet as a kid.  So excited I nearly tipped the boat.   Then on walk from boat to lodge we spotted some more monkeys.  Lodge was great but overrun with French Canadians in a large group for a wedding the next night.  That meant they were not all there for the wildlife, so were rather noisy, not great for animal spotting.  A question here, is it common for French Canadians to not speak English?  I always thought they were bilingual and could use both languages equally well, but I wonder now if I have no idea about this.  If anyone does know, leave a comment!

Rooms thankfully had mosquito nets, to keep out tarantulas and other crawling things.  There was one wall completely open to the jungle, so anyone could have come to visit, but thankfully all animals stayed away.  Careful roof inspection showed no spiders, so I was able to sleep.
Lodge has a 35m tower that you can climb to see above the canopy.  Pretty scary to be up that high with the tower swaying.  Other animals spotted over next two days include many birds, including hundreds of parrots at the clay-lick, more monkeys, butterflies and frogs.  I opted out of the nightwalk that spotted tarantulas - I really didn't want to know that they were out there!
The last night we had the most amazing torrential rainstorm, with thunder and lightning.  Next day we needed the gumboots supplied to wade our way back to the boat, but it was fun to splash through the puddles.  I cant imagine how they keep the place so nice with the environment they live in.

And then we flew back to Lima for our last night with people from the tour.  Lima grew on me a little that night, but still scares the crap out of me, wont be going back there in a hurry.

Then flew on to Argentina.  Buenos Aries is often called the Paris of the south, and in comparison to the other place we had been, was very european and much more civilised.  Not that the traffic was civilised, those people are crazy, apparently 400 pedestrians die in BA every year, so we did our best to avoid joining that stat.  Stayed in hostel again in private room - had obviously forgotten about Santiago.  Was actually pretty good, so no complaints.  Did usual tourist stuff, La Boca neighbourhood and tour of Boca juniors football club at insistence of Mr R.  I could't understand why we would want to tour a junior football club but was huffily told that it just a name - they were the Collingwood of BA.  So yeah, Maradonna and Pele both played there, stadium was nearly falling down, and thank your lucky stars for the quality of stadiums in Melbourne.  This one was like the old olympic stand at the 'G, except after demolition.
Tango dancers were busking in the streets, and I succumbed to the great leathergoods on offer and got a new handbag.  We also took in a Tango show (Senor Tango!), corny, but great dancing.  Saw the only English movie playing, Farenheit 9/11, which was hard to hear - I guess they are all reading subtitles and not listening!  Seemed a little imbalanced, MM left out some key players in Iraq, but thought provoking.  And I don't think you have to do much to make Bush look like an idiot.  Ate mountains (and that is literal) of steak, very good and not much else to choose.  Drank too much good Argentine wine, which is dirt cheap, including a grape called Syrah, for obvious reasons,  that I have never tried here but I think is like Shiraz.  Or maybe it is Spanish for Shiraz and we have no idea - looks like we have no idea, now I research and see that it is the same grape. Anyhoo, loved BA, and then before we knew it, it was time to come home.  30 hours later we collapsed back on our own bed, and well, it's nice to be back.

Hope to get an online photo album set up soon, so will post a link.  Does anyone recommend any good ones? 

Now back to our regular programming....


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