After already booking all of our between country flights I was dismayed (after watching Rio 2) that we were going to South America and hadn’t factored in the Amazon so luckily we managed to squeeze in a 2-night Amazon trip as our first stop in Peru.
Arriving in Puerto Maldaldonado the heat hits you instantly. After the comfort of our previous stays it suddenly felt like real ‘travel’ where you have no idea where you are, what’s going on, you’re sweaty, it’s dusty and nobody speaks the same language. Enough travel in Asia and the Pacific has made us both pretty at ease with the fact that in these situations you’ve just got to sit back and take whatever comes. Booking the Amazon trip, and deciding to go on the cheaper tour with basic accommodation was my idea – partly due to my bank balance and partly because I wanted to test Simons “I can rough it” claims. But in all the excitement that a Pixar/ Disney film combo creates, I had forgotten my extreme discomfort with nature. Don’t get me wrong- I love nature, it’s beautiful and wild and needs to be protected and appreciated. I really wish I was more OK with it, but coming from the safety of New Zealand bush, anywhere else it feels like nature is just out to kill you- especially in the Amazon! There’s something I find particularly disturbing about small marsupials. At Iguazu Simon got a taster for this discomfort as I went fear mode with these things running around
In the Amazon- it’s turned out that our booking at Tambopata Lodge, actually translated to tarantula lodge-awesome. On our first night, thinking we were going to see reptiles (which I’m strangely more ok with than critters and small fluffy things) I thought I’d brave the nighttime walk. It was the scariest and sweatiest 30 minutes of my life. Straight away we’re shown giant tarantulas and insects on what seemed like every leaf- turns out it was a night time creepy crawly tour. I quickly entered full Jessie shut down mode. Rolling down my trousers and zipping up my hood it was so steamy it felt like it was raining inside my clothes, but no way was I going to unzip or shed any items and risk physical contact with a spider. I spent the whole time walking with my touch directed at the ground and avoiding even the slightest brush of a leaf against me. When the guide decided to aggravate tarantulas out of their holes I didn’t know what to do with myself- step back into the absolute darkness and risk encountering another one, or stand near as an angry tarantula charged around. Simons dad jokes fell on deaf ears as I lost the ability to talk or move my arms out of absolute terror. By the end of it we came across an ant swarm and while the guys stayed to look I leaped over it and charged back to the welcome light of the lodge for a sleepless night where I was fairly certain every movement was a tarantula planning on eating me.
Aside from the terror and tarantulas the trip was amazing. So many alligators, birds and monkeys with great walks and boat rides to explore the area. Apparently it would have been ok to swim in the lake to cool down just as long as you were comfortable with sting rays, 2 meter long carnivorous fish, gators, catfish and tiny fish that swim up you’re nether regions- we both decided we weren’t that hot and kept on sweating. Simon befriended a mini monkey by the same name who also liked beer and moths (which I even concurred my fears of tiny furry things to play with), got to wear his Bear Grylls pants and fulfilled his life long dream of saying “see ya later alligator” to a real gator. We left as a hot, sweaty, muddy and stinky, but happy, mess.
Note: Porto Maldaldonado Is the stinkiest airport in the world thanks to hoards of other people in the same boat.