Camping in the Amazon!

When we camped, which is usually the last night of the tours – hadn’t been sure whether to go or not, and Susan and Tom had returned to Iquitos the previous day – I didn’t realise this and just thought I was going on a new jungle walk so didn’t tale anything like extra clothes! So the cotton trousers I wore, with my only long sleeved shirt for mosquito protection, were all I had for a hot, sweaty walk through the village and jungle from the boat.

Only when we were heading to the same place we dropped people for camping, did I begin to realise! Nearly at the camp, luckily, we stopped to see a huge 400 yo tree, and I bent down for something…and my pants tore! He tried to look how bad but I wouldn’t let him, so we carried on and then as I stepped over a tree log they ripped again!

Nightmare!!!

A 400 yo tree we passed on the way to cam, first tear behind me…!

By the time we got to camp, luckily me walking behind him, I had no butt in my trousers!!!! He was chuckling, but I was sulking! He started to set up our beds and nets, whilst I found a cotton sheet to tie round as a sarong or skirt! He wasn’t impressed with the look 😬!

Just as I felt cooler then, he then told me we were off to the lookout, so I made the sarong into a skirt just tied round my waist and put on my sticky shirt again!

We rowed out to the lookout – me looking less than cool in my skirt, from the look on his face! – and we climbed out of the small aluminium boat (again I didn’t realise at first this was not always flooded) onto the first level of the three storey wooden lookout, and he tied up the boat at the steps.

I climbed up and he followed and at the top – 45 foot up – we were above the tree canopy looking over to south east over trees and the dark lagoon and creeks below, to the western horizon where soon a beautiful sunset would develop, and to the southeast and northwest behind us looking down through trees into dark, still waters. It was stunning! Amazing to be there.

As I took photos and very excited, he gently moved me by the shoulders to the right … away from the tarantula sitting in the roof corner above me!! I took a photo but was glad I’d moved as it was hunting and moving around!

But that’s what you get being in the jungle!

We sat with out legs hanging over the edge, wellyboots off so we didn’t lose them (oh yes, turned down wellies completed my cool jungle outfit!). We chatted, he pointed things out, I just grinned (as usual, apparently) as it was just so cool to be out there at last – in the wild jungle with nothing and no one else around, almost alone!!

He asked if I’d be ok now staying in the jungle, and I said yes, having got over my sulk, and seen the camp lodge and beds …and his trusty machete!!!

We watched the sun set over the Amazon jungle…then we had to go as it was getting dark. Really dark!

He helped me tidy my “skirt” made of curtain, making a better fit and not as clumsy – always helpful, then helping me down the steps which could have been tricky with a wet fall into who knows what jaws! (not really!)

As he rowed us back to the camp there was a full moon that actually did help light the way, and stars glowing through the branches of the tall trees around us.

There were hundreds of tiny dragonfly larvae all around on the leaves floating or jutting from the tree trunks – all glowing like little white fairy lights surrounding us on our journey. It was so beautiful.

Just the lapping of the dark black waters against the paddle, frog noises and other sounds of the jungle – it was beautiful and relaxing, and I felt very safe and very honoured to witness this scene and the experience.

Ashuco, as ever, tried to manage it all and shone the torch ahead again and again, I was as ever impressed he could find his way, especially in the dark but I could have helped by holding the torch as he rowed us back. He really did feel like he was a ‘Tarzan of the jungle’!

As we arrived, there was music from the village; he said it was good at the village parties – then pointed his torch at my skirt, laughingly saying I was dressed well for a dance! It felt safer for me – tighter and secured, not as bulky now it was tighter, so I just wiggled my hips at his comment and laughed back! But he clearly wasn’t up for taking me like that lol as we didn’t go.

We both went to the ‘jungle loo’ before bed – even though it was relatively early – and I slipped and slid in the mud, hiding in the bushes near the water to do my thing!  Mistake! Later when I went, I made sure I was on firmer ground, and next day behind camp in the jungle bushes before we left! It’s what you have to do I learned!

Ashuco saw me safely into bed – two mattresses as there were only two of us (I had heard it was hard with only one thin mattress and buggy covers from previous campers!) – and made sure the net was tucked in – no spiders around like there was when he was getting the bedding sorted from the pile to set it up, with a huntsman-sized spider on there – or tarantula size maybe! He got into bed too and fell straight to sleep.

Ashuco didn’t move all night I don’t think – assume he felt quite safe and comfortable in the jungle as he didn’t move.

(huntsmen are harmless but big Aussie spiders)

I was excited but just lay down, very excited to be there, then as it wasn’t too late, maybe 7pm (my watch in my bag was in the centre of ‘cabin’ so not sure) I lay on my tummy looking out, through the ceiling to floor netting, at the lovely view over the water and the two boats on the shore, only about 15 feet away. The dark water, trees and ground visible in the moonlight from my left, frog noises and birds maybe, stars through the trees and so peaceful.

It was lovely, peaceful, relaxing. I felt quite safe too even with just the netting between me and the jungle creatures from giant moths to potentially, jaguars although they are rare, lucky sightings generally.

I remembered I had to take my lense out and get my water that I need to sip in the night, so slid out of the net in my sarong-cum- cover, and got sorted. Still no movement from Ashuco so at least I don’t think I’d disturbed him. I hoped if anything scary did come he would wake up though!!

Later, however, other noises were a little scary, and Ashuco looked sound asleep so felt a little less safe other than being able to call him if I needed to! I needed the loo in the night, too, so luckily with my mini torch and the full moon I dashed out but stayed near the hut! He didn’t wake up! I told him so next morning and he laughed and said he heard me but I know he didn’t. I hope he would have woken had I screamed!

I slept, but woke a couple of times, sounded like something was in the nearby hut next to us – another big ‘netted house’ on stilts about 4-5 ft off the ground, but no door like we had (although ours didn’t close properly!).

I thought I heard a panting go through the camp on my side but didn’t dare get up to see! I wish I had now as I missed the chance to see jungle animals!

I could have sat up outside the netted bed to see out the netting ‘all’ maybe, but afraid of the many mosquitos I’d been told about by the other guide, Rene, just before leaving, as if to put me off the trip ( that I didn’t realise I was going on even as we set off!). I hadn’t wanted to chance it, but I did have my strong DEET repellent, which hadn’t initially impressed Ashuco when I first arrived and he looked at it as he put up my mossie net in the cabin back at ‘main camp’.

That makes it sound very exciting doesn’t it? And actually, it was!

In the morning we were apparently up early and at the boat again for six, and when we got there a young local was waiting to drive us back to the main camp lodge in a small motor boat.

Ashuco got up and tidied everything away, sent me to the loo when we were about to set off – pointing his machete at the jungle! Although I was going to wait til we got back as I had to wear my pants again but with the sarong tucked in at the back. I felt and probably looked silly, hopefully thinking we might not see anyone as it was early – but they generally get up with the light, so we passed a few people through the village (but I didn’t look back!) The only snigger I heard was as I got off the boat at camp and walked the planks to the gardens, and heard Ashuco quietly tell the guides there, I guess, I’d split my trousers the night before!!! Again, I just didn’t look back …😳!

After that, it being my last extra day to relaxing, I showered, breakfasted, and then lay in a hammock rocking, reading and writing my journal, chilling till lunchtime, then back to Iquitos and reality at 2pm, my jungle adventure almost over 😞

I was sad to go, and wondered about extending my stay, or coming back!! I asked about it and it was my birthday next day and I had hoped to spend it somewhere exciting like the Amazon but timing hadn’t worked.

Told Ashuco who said Maniti would give me a good deal if I wanted to come back next day – and by the time I got to Iquitos, I’d decided to go back as my own birthday treat! 🍰😊

Ashuco was booked with another single guest tour so I would have a different guide, and that was OK, for a different perspective and experience, but would miss Ashuco’s company and expertise perhaps.

I’d grown comfortable with his knowledge, care and sharing what to see, had a laugh and with Tom and Sue, we had developed as a group.

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