There’s no highway or road to Iquitos, the largest city in the world inaccessible by car. The town’s location is deep in the Amazon and a plane (or a LONG motorcycle ride) is the only way to make it there. We had an Amazon tour booked and we were ready to start heading into the jungle. First, we had a day to see the city of Iquitos.
Without vehicle access, most people drive around Iquitos in Tuk-Tuks. These are small motorcycles with a cart for two people on the back. People drive like maniacs, so every second is a thrill ride. With the close proximity to the Amazon, many people live off the jungle. The main market sold produce and animals I’d never seen before and contained a “jungle pharmacy” with herbal remedies for various ailments. I was happy to have tried some of the goods in the market….others were not so great.
In a more tourist-friendly part of the city, we dined in a floating restaurant called Al Frio y Al Fuego was amazing. It is only accessible by ferry, and certainly worth the quick trip. They even have a pool in the floating restaurant. (META) Finally, we stopped by the Manatee rescue to learn about the work to save the Amazon Manatees and other endangered wildlife.
The next morning, it was time to head into the Amazon. We woke up at dawn, covered ourselves head to toe in bug spray, and jumped in a tour van. After a boat ride, we got settled into the jungle lodge and lounged on hammocks. Our first stop took us to a nature conservation center to get up close to many of the animals of the jungle. Feeding caimans, piranhas, and other large fish were great, however, those were not exactly animals I was planning to get that close too. We did, however, meet a friendly sloth…and an even friendlier anaconda.
After a dinner in the jungle lodge, we began the night walk. To be honest, we were just as scared as we were excited about this part of the trip. Our guide told us to keep an eye out for tarantulas, scorpions and other types of bugs…..great. He was true to his word. I spotted a scorpion that apparently was extremely dangerous to the touch. When our group found a tarantula, Lindsay volunteered to have it crawl on her??? The final big moment was when we saw a large tree frog, which around the size of a coconut. I didn’t know frogs got bigger than my hand.
The next day’s highlight may have been the highlight of the entire trip. The Isle of Los Monos (Island of the Monkeys) is a rehabilitation center for young monkeys in the Amazon. The monkeys are often taken in as pets illegally and this center helps nurse the young monkeys back to health and prepare them to go back into nature. Since they live with humans, they love to play and meet people. Almost immediately, I connected with a little Howler Monkey named Pepito. The little guy would follow me around, hang out on my head and hold my hand to guide me around the island. At least until he saw some food and then was quick to ditch me. People say we evolved from monkeys, but I think we’re pretty much the same. It is amazing to see firsthand how nimble and graceful these small primates can be. The tails enable them to maneuver around almost any obstacles or hang from your arms. Looking at their hands, you can even see how their little fingers were not too different than ours. After meeting other howler and spider monkeys, we bid Pepito and the Amazon goodbye as we boated home.
This wraps up Peru and weekly Ecuador trips from Vida La Vic. After finishing up in Ecuador and getting back the U.S. in March, I have been squeezing in time to get the last of these posts written. While I was not always in the mood to write them, I am extremely happy I did. After just a few months, Ecuador feels like it was ages ago. This blog will help me revisit those memories, and I am glad to have shared them with you.
You must be asking yourself, what will come next from Vida La Vic? I do plan to continue writing. I’ve been rattling around some comedy ideas, recently drove from Boston to San Francisco, and there’s more I would like to write about Ecuador. Let me know what you would like to read about! For now, I want to thank you for reading and following this blog. Once more… #VidaLaVic.