Welcome to the Jungle!

Left Cusco at 9 pm in a nice comfy bus. The road to Puerto Maldonado has just recently been paved and is a part of the trans-oceanic road going from the eastcoast to the westcoast of Southamerica.
Fell asleep around 11 and woke up at 5.30 am because the bus was extremely hot and humid. Realised we weren’t moving and hadn’t been for at while (the driver was sound asleep!)! Wanted to see what was going on so walked to the front of the line where the road was blocked by a policecar. I asked around with my limited Spanish but no-one knew anything! An hour later I tried to find a cup of coffee and even though there were lots of shops selling breakfast, coffee was nowhere to be found! Finally at 11 am we started moving. Well at least 50 m before we stopped again… And started… And stopped… Then we drove for maybe 20 min and the road was fine and I wondered why we had stopped for that many hours until we came to a place where a landslide had covered most of the road. Just after that the bus stopped again and the driver said a lot in rapid Spanish and half the passengers got off. Then the driver pulled the curtains so we couldn’t see the road and started driving!!! I still managed to peak out and most of the road had disappeared into the river leaving just enough room for the bus! That is why half the passengers left the bus and walked that part…
Got to Puerto Maldonado 6 hours late, was driven to the river in a tricycle and sailed down the river for an hour in a small wooden boat.
Arrived at the Monte Amazonica lodge and had to walk a partial flooded pathway. Last week the water stood about a meter over the path and they had to use canoes.
It is a really nice and quiet place with a resident baby monkey saved from the black market, a tame squirrel, two parrots and three cats.
The monkey seems to like me. In fact so much that she climbed up to me in the hammock and slept for about 5 min until she decided to crap on me!!! Then the parrot came and bit me in my toe and finally I realised my bag was full of ants because I had a bag of nuts in it… Welcome to the jungle!!!
Relaxed until 6.30 pm when we went looking for caymans, the small crocodiles. We found a few and the guide caught one so we could take pictures and touch it. Not sure if I liked that he caught it but the cayman seemed pretty calm about it and stayed around when it was released.
Back for dinner and went to bed early. Woke up at 2.30 am and sat outside for a while watching the fireflies. Woke up again at 7.30 in pouring rain, had breakfast and then we went to visit a local family (well sort of local. They came by bus from Cusco and two of the boys had wrist watches). They have a small banana and papaya plantation and otherwise they just live off the jungle and the river. A while ago an anaconda came and took some of their chickens and the grandfather tried to shoot it with bow and arrow but the anaconda got away. We tried to shoot with the bow and arrow, got painted in the face to be a part of the family, danced with the four boys and I bought a few necklaces and bracelets. In the afternoon we went out in kayaks on the river Madre de Dios for about an hour. After dark we went out on a walk in the jungle where we saw a tarantula, a few frogs and other nocturnal life.
Next morning we got up at 4.30, had breakfast and left for Lake Sandoval. First a short boatride, then a 1,5 hour trek through ancle deep mud and finally we reached the lake where we sailed for about two hours, looking at the wildlife. Saw a few caymans, lots of “stinky birds” but not the otters!
Next morning we got up at 6 am and went up on the canopy walk to watch the birds. We were about 40 m up and we saw a lot of birds. Eagles, vultures, parakeets and many more I don’t remember the names of! In the afternoon we went zip-gliding from the same canopy walk. First part was 120 m and I went first. It was really fun but scary to let go. I started breaking way too soon and never made it to the platform but glided back to the middle and the poor tiny guy had to pull me up to the platform. The second part was also 120 m and this time I made it all the way to the platform. At 3pm I went back to Puerto Maldonado and spent a few hours there mainly eating in a nice restaurant before my bus left at 8.30 pm. I don’t know why we had to leave that early because they knew we couldn’t pass the broken part of the road until daylight so around 11 pm we stopped and stayed there until just before 7am when we were allowed to continue. This time I got out of the bus and walked. It was a little scary to watch how the road had just disappeared into the river but we made it and so did the bus. Was back in Cusco at 2 pm.

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