So the rain continued through the night and into the morning. Nixon and I were supposed to go bird watching, but we ended up cancelling since Nixon advised me we would no be able to see any birds because they would be hiding under the trees. So instead of getting up at 5:30 a.m., I slept until 7, had some breakfast and met Nixon for the short trip to the local village (El Chino).
The game plan was to drive the boat to the village and then take a walk around. However, I didn’t realize the real game plan was to only go about 5 minutes by boat and actually hike about 45 minutes to the village.
Anyway, It was still raining when we set off, but by the time our boat captain, Oscar, put the boat ashore, the rain had subsided. Nixon and I hiked up the small little hill and were immediately greeted by a beautiful, multicoloured parrot that flew right in front of us. Nixon said it was a orange cheeked parrot.
We turned towards the forest and hiked along a very wet, sandy path. The hike was very easy and clearly the path had been used many times. As we wandered through puddles, we kept a look out for birds and monkeys. We didn’t see any monkeys, but we did see a myriad of birds of all colors and varieties.
After walking almost forty five minutes through the sandy puddles we came to the edge of the village where we were greeted by the sounds of a choir. We crossed the lengthy wooden bridge and immediately passed a church. It was Sunday so we were serenaded by the sounds of the choir and a band. It was a lovely way to enter the village.
Now most of the staff come from the village so the village is considered wealthy by local standards. (The staff use their earnings to support their families.). The village homes are built around a large rectangle with a soccer field in the middle. Between the houses are various convenience stores and a local gathering hall. Virtually every house had a solar panel.
As we wandered the rectangle, we ran into the group of students who are staying at the lodge in the student quarters. The kids are from Missouri and were here to help construct a new high school. The kids were hauling bags of cement and rebar to the building site as well as various sizes of timber. Apparently the boat from Iquitos had just arrive with the supplies. In addition, the kids were building chairs under a rotunda near the water. Quite the summer vacation!
Anyway, after making an entire loop around the village, Nixon and I headed back towards the forest on the far side of the village in search of the pygmy marmoset that is known to hang out in the area. The little guy is a relative of the monkey, but very, very small so Nixon warned me they would be hard to find. Apparently, there are three pair in the area as well as a newborn. Once we were far enough into the forest, Nixon stood and made a low whistling type noise and within a couple minutes we saw some leaves move. Sure enough, there it was. We stood and watched it for a few minutes and then moved to the back side of the tree to get a closer look. As we stood there, it came closer and closer to me and seemed to like eating the sap from a hole in the tree near where we were standing. The little guy had the face of a lion (seriously check out the picture) and a tail as long as a rat. It was a cute little thing.
After watching the pygmy marmoset for 10 or so minutes, we spotted one more (a female) higher up in the trees. She was very hard to see so we headed back to the boat to find Oscar and our ride back to the lodge. Once back at the lodge, I took a lovely little siesta in the hammock room while listening to the sounds of the jungle.
Lunch was delicious as all the meals have been so far (rice, chorizo sausage, chicken, fresh fruit, a cucumber salad and flan (my favourite) for desert. After lunch, Nixon and I set out for the zip line behind the lodge. Now what I thought would be a short little hike, turned into a VERY, VERY long muddy hike. The rain had made the trails a slippery, muddy mess. We kept having to pull our boots out of the thick muck, dodge fallen branches and stinging nettles, step over monster tree roots, and swat the ever present mosquitos.
As we trudged through the mud, we came across three little owl monkeys high up in a tree. I have no idea how Nixon was able to spot them because there is absolutely no way I could see them without Nixon and his trusty little laser pointer.
Anyway, this “little” hike turned into a one hour odyssey, and just when I thought I couldn’t go anymore, we arrived at platform number 1 – the tallest at 40 meters in the air (125 feet). Yikes, as I looked up I became rather nervous. However, never one to back down from a challenge, I had the guys fit me with the harness and begin to hoist me up to the first platform for the beginning of the zip line through the canopy. Meanwhile Nixon was using a series of pullies to hoist himself up (which was incredibly impressive). Nixon was going to follow behind me to ensure that I was fine.
As I went up, up up, I took a look down and began to question my sanity. By the time I reached the top of the platform, we were well above the tree canopy. I was at this point terrified, but fortunately at surprise at the top diverted my attention from my nerves. Nixon told me to take a look across at the tree in front of the platform and …. there is was … a SLOTH! There is absolutely no way anyone would ever see the sloth from the ground because it was so high up in the trees so I figured I was being rewarded for my stupidity (uh bravery). The sloth was so close to the platform, I could make out every little detail of the lovely little animal. It was an absolutely incredible sight.
Anyway, I spent the next 15 minutes taking pictures and simply watching the lovely three toed male sloth move. (You can tell it’s a male by the orange on its back). And when I say watching it move, it really was like watching a movie in slow motion. The slow, deliberate movements were absolutely hysterical. At one point, I could not stop laughing. It was the best.
So once the sloth viewing was over, it was time to get hooked up for the first of three rides over the canopy. Platform number one was the highest of the three so once Nixon had me hooked up, he told me to shut my eyes and just take a step off, which is what I did. Before I knew it, I was whooshing above the trees. It was fantastic. I reached the platform and crossed a little rope bridge to platform number 2. This platform was a little lower, but the trip across was much longer. In order to push off, I had to sit back in my harness and lift my feet. I was immediately sent shooting along the wire. I reached platform 3 and only had one to go.
Unfortunately, platform 3 was my undoing. The distance between platform 2 and 3 was rather short. As I took off from platform 2, I turned to say something to Nixon, but was already almost at the last platform. I was supposed to lift both my legs to land on platform 3, but because I had turned to say something, I only managed to get my right leg up leaving my left ankle to slam against the platform. I let out a yelp, but didn’t realize how bad I had smashed my leg until the guys brought me to the base (using the reverse pulley system), and I was walking down the set of stairs to the ground. My rubber boot rubbed up against the contusion and I let out another yelp. Nixon immediately became concerned, but I assured him I was fine. It was completely my fault and did not want to alarm him since we had a 1 hour hike back to the lodge in front of us.
So after assuring Nixon I was fine (I was not), we began the hike through the muck and mud, slogging through rushing streams, walking over massive tree roots, dodging vines and nettles and swatting mosquitos. Every time my left boot got stuck in the muck, I would have to pull on it and my shin felt like someone was putting a hammer to it. We slogged through the underbrush and while it was dark already in the tree canopy, it was really becoming dark with the setting sun. I limped along through the overgrown path in virtual darkness and finally reached the lodge. Once I sat down and removed my sock and rubber boot, it became apparent how bad I had smacked my leg. The contusion looked like someone had stuck a cherry under my skin at my shin bone and painted it purple and black. Yikes!
I went to my room and found a cream I use for bruises (thanks Cheryl for bringing me a new supply from Germany) and gently rubbed the cream into the contusion. After a shower, I put some more cream on the bruise, and I could see the difference. The bump had gone down a bit, but I really needed some ice. So with beer in hand and an elevated foot, one of the gals in the lodge brought me ice wrapped in a wash cloth. By dinner the contusion was now a small (but painful), ugly bump and purple coloured bruise.
I figured with a good nights sleep and some more cream, I would be fine in the morning.