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Monday, July 29, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Jungle Lodge

Life at a jungle lodge is far different than any type of accommodation you could ever experience. In reality there are tons of jungle lodges not just in Iquito Peru but in Brazil and anywhere that the amazon river extends to. I made my trip with Amazonia Expeditions. Looking back, coming to the Amazon was one of the best decisions of my life and choosing to have them host me was an excellent decision. My trip went way beyond just swinging on canopy zip lines and fishing for piranhas, I learned a way of life that only the jungle and its inhabitants could have taught me.In this post I want to highlight some crazy aspects that are a part of daily life at a jungle lodge.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hunting for the Elusive Poison Dart Frogs

All my life I have heard about the amazing diversity of the amazon jungle but nothing on this earth could have prepared me for the level of diversity within the forest jungles. There are many excursions you can go on depending on your needs and preferences, likes or goals. Among the millions of options available, one of the excursions is to go searching for Poison Dart Frogs. Up until now I had only seen them on the discovery channel.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pecked by a Peeved Piranha

"Look at the teeth" the guide said holding the piranha we had just caught to me. We had spent the morning floating down the river in a motorized speedboat. I was experiencing an activity that was a source of food to the tens of thousands of people that made up the rain forest communities, fishing. My guides had informed me that early morning is the best time for catching fish and seeing animals because that is the time that the animals are out and about searching for food. As the day goes on, they tend to head for territory with shade, decreasing chances of spotting any animals or catching any fish. Up until then, the only time I had ever seen a Piranha was on the discovery channel. But as luck would have it, not only would I have my first close encounter with a piranha but unbeknownst to me before the end of the day I would witness first hand the power of a piranha's punch.

 I don't know what was going through my head, maybe its because I never fished before and it didn't occur to me that the fish was dead or anywhere close to dead. As the guide held the fish out to show me the powerful jaws and teeth, curiosity overwhelmed me and I reached out my finger to feel the piranhas razor sharp teeth. The moment that the piranha felt something touch its teeth it immediately clamped down onto my tender unexpecting finger. And I can honestly say that my curiosity to what the teeth of a piranha were like were more than satisfied as blood began to ooze out of the fresh wound.

The guides wasted no time in throwing the piranha back into the river and getting out tissue and hand sanitizer from the first aid kit in the motorised speedboat. They didn't even flinch or panic at the site of me wounded and bleeding. It almost seemed routine to them and I soon found out that this was because piranha bites weren't uncommon.

In fact, when someone is attempting to reel in a piranha that they've caught, they have a special way of getting the hook out of the mouth. One has to use your thumb and forefinger to press on each side of the cheek/jaw area at the same time to make the piranha's mouth open. They cannot stick their finger inside the mouth to remove the hook. Once the mouth is open only then can they carefully remove the hook out. And I was told that in some cases the piranha is so incredibly aggressive that they cannot get their hand anywhere close to the mouth, the hook has to be removed with a plier.

 Just to demonstrate the power of a piranha bite, I'll let you know that it took about 30 mins for the bleeding to be able to slow down. We continued floating down the river catching fish without further adieu and each minute found myself learning more about the ways of the jungle. As it turns out, towards the surface smaller piranhas and deeper in the water are larger piranhas. The smaller piranhas are the ones that are intelligent because they will pick away at the bait without getting hooked. It was the piranhas down deeper that were not so intelligent and are more prone to greedily gobbling up the bait hook and all.

We arrived back at the lodge with 8 fish and a 9th being a piranha. For lunch they cooked out catch and made fish soup for everyone and the piranha was handed to me fried on a plate. Having been bitten earlier by a piranha, I felt like I was getting back at it by having another piranha served to me on a plate. Revenge never tasted so sweet…..

Monday, July 08, 2013

Cold Showers and Pink Dolphins

Dolphin-red, the pink dolphin - Boto-vermelho,...
Dolphin-red, the pink dolphin - Boto-vermelho, Boto Cor de Rosa (Photo credit: josé hilton)

The world of travel is incredibly diverse and there are a million places to go and a ton of things to do in each and everyone of them. In addition to that, you'll hear hundreds of opinions on where you should go and what people consider "fun". And the really great part is that nobody is actually wrong in what they think is a good place to go and their idea of fun. But the most important thing is to know who YOU are and what fits with your mind, body, soul, likes, and budget. That can get ultra challenging when you are reading glowing reviews about 100 different places and what a great time someone else had.

Then there is what I call "traveler's intuition". It happens once in awhile when I hear or read about a place and something jumps within me and I just know I'm meant to be there and have that experience. On this particular occasion I was reading up on places to go in Peru. I was browsing through a list of popular cities and things to do in each one of them. Then I came to a place called Iquitos, right in the middle of the Peruvian rainforest.  A city filled with amazon river tours and jungle lodges that serve as accomodation.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Lapis Lazuli Love


One of the things that I highly value as a traveller is acquiring souvenirs that both benefit local businesses and enlighten me about the culture and country that I am visiting. A few days before taking off from Buenos Aires and heading to Santiago, I stumbled across a great article on the internet entitled "Souvenirs from Chile"  The article proved invaluable to me in helping me not fall into the trap of spending my money on high priced touristic souvenirs.

I ended up buying a couple of things from the list of things the article suggested. Pablo Neruda memorabilia (in my case a souvenir mug), a copper pan almost exactly like picture of the one featured in the article, and last but definitely not least this beautiful Lapis Lazuli pendant.

Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas