Peru 2012: Day 1

Note: I apologize for two things: first, that I don’t have pictures (my Panasonic camera broke, and I wasn’t in the mood to bring either of the Canon’s that we have. Don’t get me wrong, though: I would love to capture all of this, but so much of it is much to beautiful to capture with a camera. Second: I apologize for posting these on a delayed schedule: the Inkaterra Ecolodge doesn’t have Wi-Fi.

While travel began yesterday (July 31st) at 3:00 AM, our adventure technically started today at midnight: the time at which we arrived at the Lima International Airport. The airport was surprisingly nice, especially in comparison to Heathrow, which was a complete and utter disappointment.

In the case that you’re interested, we had a 3 hour layover in Houston (George W. Bush International Airport), which we spent eating Panda Express. I spent the flight from Seattle watching Olympic horse jumping and singles tennis. The flight from Houston was spent watching The Wrath of the Titans, a mediocre movie, and continuing the two books I started during the first leg of our travel: Gone with the Wind and Storm Front (Dresden Files #1).

Our hotel in Lima was directly across from the airport (a Ramada Inn/Costa del Sol Hotel). We spent the time when Reception was photocopying our passports drinking lemonade while watching Spanish music videos and South American soccer. By the time we got to our rooms, showered and ate a quick snack of corn nuts, the time was almost 2:00 AM.

Since we had to get up at 6:15 for our flight to Puerto Maldonado in the Madre de Dios province, we ended up with a second night of under 5 hours of sleep. Of course, despite the fact that we achieved perfect timing by reaching the gate by the specified boarding time of 8:55, for our 9:45 flight through Cuzco, our flight was delayed by an hour, and boarding didn’t begin until 10:40. By that time, LAN had decided to make the flight direct to Puerto Maldonado, and put the Cuzco passengers on a different plane.

The flight itself was only 1 hr. 15 min., but allowed us time for two drinks and a snack pack consisting of Ritz crackers, a butterfly cookie and a caramel-filled chocolate, all accompanied by beautiful views of the striking rainforest landscape below. Upon our arrival, we were immediately greeted at baggage claim by a representative from Inkaterra Ecolodge, the lodge where we’re staying. He rounded us up with a few other groups onto a large wooden bus, which, after introductions, drove us to the nearby Inkaterra butterfly house. There, along with drinking star fruit juice and watching the butterflies, we filled out the required forms to check-in to the lodge. Once this was complete, we were driven to el embarcadero de Puerto Maldonado en el Río Madre de Dios, a tributary of the Amazon River which changed its name in Bolivia, then again in Brazil to Madeira River. We learned that the main industry of Puerto Maldonado is logging, though it is also home to many mango, lemon, yuca and banana farmers who use long, loud, and slow boats to reach their farms along the river, as we did, but in a boat with a much faster and quieter motor. We also learned that Maldonado is the name of an early explorer who left his name carved on a tree that was later found by the governor who named the city. Upon arrival at the lodge, we were treated to passion fruit juice before receiving our room numbers and sitting down to lunch. I ordered an avocado stuffed with chicken as an appetizer, catfish breaded with plantains with Swiss potatoes and a dessert of sponge cake with praline frosting. Afterwards, we settled into our rooms before returning to plan our itinerary for the next day and go on the Twilight River boat excursion along the river. The only animal we spotted along the river was a baby white cayman (a type of alligator). Dinner followed upon our return, consisting of an appetizer of a potato and pava bean chowder, an entrée of chicken and rice steamed in a cocona leaf (I ate some of this, assuming it was edible, just to quickly be told by our waiter that it is like plastic, and can kill me), and finally, a dessert of “dulce de leche” cake with chamomile tea. This was concluded our first day.

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