Tag Archives: Cruise

The Peruvian Amazon

I sit on the top deck of our river boat typing and glimpse the pink dolphins frocking in the muddy water as white birds dance in the sky. Rising and falling to the sounds of nature. It’s a sight to behold.A two hour flight from the coastal region of Lima had us flying over the Andes mountains and landing in the jungle, Iquitos.Iquitos is the largest city in the world not accessible by road.

Our boat awaited one and a half hours away. The bus ride ended in Nauta where we boarded the Amazon’s only wooden river boat, the Amatista, for a seven day cruise.Before the road was paved in 2005 the journey from Iquitos to Nauta took 12 hours.15 Germans, 4 Canadians and 5 Americans filled 13 of the 15 cabins.

The Amazon’s wet season officially begins in November.

Clear skies on the first evening showed stars so abundant they seemed to be growing out of the tree tops. The Milky Way floated above our heads and the moon looked like it slipped – a U shaped sliver instead of a C shape.The abundance of flora and fauna was staggering.

Here’s a partial list of what we’ve seen: pink dolphins, manatees, a kinkajou, a coatimundi, butterflies, an ajouti, pigmy marmoset, bats, a black caiman, monkeys, frogs of all colors, a red tail boa, an anaconda, 3 sloths, birds too numerous to count, piglets (special Amazonian variety – HA), a tarantula, gray dolphins, turtles, household pets, ducks, chickens, roosters, piranhas and gazillions of unwanted bugs/mosquitos.Every day we took two skiff boat trips – one before lunch and the other later in the day. The naturalists pointed out wildlife while cruising through either muddy brown waters or sleek black water tributaries. Jungle walks gave us the opportunity to get up close and personal with nature and it’s critters.We visted the small community of Pampacaño – 192 people strong and not in possession of clean water.

A pipe pulls their drinking water from the dirty Amazon. To make it safe as possible to drink the captured water stands for several days so that the contaminates can settle and then they use the water from the top. Oil and lead are amongst the carcinogens.

That day lunch was served from the floor in Maria’s home – we ate with our fingers. One of the items on the menu was paca – a huge two foot rat that lives in the jungle. There too we saw the 15 foot anaconda that crept into their village five days prior.Amazonians are so used to the rain that they go about their daily routines immune to the drops continuing on as if the sun was shining.

Chicken and catfish are the main sources of meat in the Amazon. Fish and chicken farms are abundant. In the villages people also fish out of their lagoons instead of the unhealthy river.However, we did go piranha fishing in the black water and dined on them for dinner. Fishing for those infamous people-eating machines (lore) with tiny vicious teeth is quite basic. Take a four foot stick with fishing line tied to one end, a hook on the other and a little bit of beef for bait. You splash the water with the end of the pole and wait to set the hook. Bill successfully caught one flinging it with excitement right on the bag in front of me! They were served deep fried – had a tiny amount of meat, lots of bones and tasted like the grease they were cooked in.We visited a shaman/midwife. This calm woman all of five feet tall with hair past her bottom and bare footed, studied deep in the jungle for eight years to learn how to use plants to heal. Part of her spiritual therapy is using the hallucinogenic ayahuasca plant. Nine villages are dependent on her to cure aliments and deliver babies.Our crew was the best. The two naturalists were informative and have worked on the boat since it’s inception 23 years ago. The chef could make pollo and pescado in so many different ways you barely knew you were eating it twice a day.It only rained for a short period of time on a couple of days.

Soon it will be raining everyday and the Amazon will swallow the shores – rising as much as forty feet by the end of the rainy season. Homes on stilts will become islands and life goes on.Look at the waterline on the trees!

More iPhone shots:

Life Happens While Making Plans

The Via Francigena pilgrimage had been in the works for almost two years – August 28th to November 19th – generous time to walk, explore and then return by means of a transatlantic cruise.In April of this year we learned our son and daughter-in-law were going to have a baby – the due date coincided with our walk.

Plane and cruise tickets had already been purchased and commitments to our pilgrim partners had been made. We decided to continue and make a plan when the time came.

Graciella was born October 8th.

Rome was five days out and the proud parents wanted some alone time. This allowed time to finish the Via, rest a couple days and fly home for some Gracie time.Oh, to hold a grandbaby. What a miracle.

It was only 36 hours after arriving in Charleston that Bill and I looked at each other said let’s fly back to Italy and get on that ship. The boat sails in 14 days…

The cruise took off from Civitavecchia, an hour outside Rome. We stayed near the airport and meandered our way to the port.First stop, Barcelona. We have great memories of our time here. I was particularly looking forward to seeing the progress of the Sagrada Familia. A Gaudí designed church. It’s a fantastical whimsical fortification – part adult hallucination part child’s mind. Within a year of the corner stone being set in 1882 Gaudí became the architect. He abandoned the original Neo-gothic theme for his own modernistic style. Rumor has it that the goal is to finish in 2026. This – Gaudí’s last project.

On the opposite end of the spectrum both in time and in design we toured his first commission, Casa Vicens. The juxtaposition from the start of his career to the end is a lesson in the creative mind.

The ship was scheduled to arrive in Funchal (an island just west of Portugal) in two days. However, a northerly storm with twenty foot swells put an end to that and we remain another day in Barcelona.

Tomorrow we head west, out into the Atlantic, where we will sail seven days to St. Maarten.

and today a new adventure begins…

a cruise – contrary to the normal way we roll.

Not so much a slow boat to China but a slow boat to Argentina – Buenos Aires for New Year’s Eve – traveling down the west side of South America stopping at historic or touristy ports of call at which we’ll hail a taxi and see what’s out there.

The down time on the cruise will be like savasana in yoga – good for the soul all the while my monkey mind searches for the key to the jail cell.  Get me outta here!!!

Internet on a cruise is slower than a turtle with a broken leg and more expensive than the caviar that I long to bathe in – this will be my down fall.  It started on January 1st when a self imposed Photo of the Day was born – a love hate relationship – loved to share a good photo – hated when sleep was postponed for a photo had to be posted.

Restless nights from the lack of internet twice this year loomed over me like a heavy fog – feeling irresponsible – no photo of the day! So again I prepare for this same fog, hoping the lack of internet will give way to savasana…..

The cruise will offer plenty of time to dream of South America and all the countries left to explore for we have no return ticket.