Hola! Como estas?

Hola!  Como estas?  My llama Julie!  De donde eres?

Since travelling – and perhaps a little topsy turvy here! – I am now learning Spanish.  I could have done with simple phrases I am now learning – above I say “hello, how are you?  I’m Julie.  Where are you from?”   That simple phrasing would have made life much easier – as would being able to order food, know what some of it was and what the cafes actually sold, and how to pay and know prices!

Many a time, not only in South America and Spain, I managed with food I sort of recognised and pointed to, unsure of the cost by holding our money and trusting the locals to take their due, and frustrating many a cab driver when asking for the fare but unable to understand their request or answers!

So now, ready to live on Madrid or Lima I hope, I am learning this language.  I know some French but nowhere I travelled used this one!  I can speak English as can many other countries and people – from Europeans I met to villagers in the Amazon and Asia for tourists, and yet 32 countries of the world speak Spanish and I know nothing until now!

So at least when I travel in future I will understand more, be able to find the basic hello, thanks, goodbye, up or down, left and right, food and drinks and places of interest!   Some of this I learned in each place as travelling became my norm, but it is only respectful to try to speak the language of their country which they appreciate even in small doses – as we do here.  I promise myself to be more patient and helpful to tourists in future, chat to them if I meet them (as I did on a tram, on a walking tour in my home city of Manchester as I did whilst a travelling tourist around the world, and it warms my own heart when I meet ‘a fellow traveller’ as I will always be now!)

Amazonian Queens and Kings!

 

16/4/16

I can’t believe I’m here, after so many years wondering!    So guess where I am, today 16th April for five nights and days?

I am in the Amazon jungle!!!! Through creeks to the lodge area of several stilted shacks, with tin rooves, two larger grass- roofed buildings housing dining room and hammocks.   My view from the back of my room, three beds but just for me, is palms, grasses and bushes.   I have an en-suite bathroom which is cool if basic but it is in the jungle!!There is netting around the top of the wooden frame to keep out mosquitos, and I brought my Deet repellent spray plus my usual daytime one.  I started malaria tablets -Mallarone – when I set of for Iquitos, just in case.

asuco-treeMy first guide, Ashuco, making a water bottle holder from palm leaves for Sue as we trekked the jungle paths to explore the wildlife …

 Somewhere I’ve ALWAYS wanted to visit is the Amazon!  It looks to wild, exciting, dangerous a little and vast with so many animals and birds too many to count!   Always watching geo programmes on this area of the world, the sad loss with deforestation and the devastating effects this has on the world we live in…

I forgot it last night going out for dinner in the town but seems ok, one bite but not bad – maybe not mossies but little black flies. Off soon for our second trip to Monkey Island to see monkeys, birds, snakes and iguanas.

Our first adventure was geting here by boat up the brown Amazon, two different coloured waters flowing together from in Intaya river too. Saw the yellow headed vultures circling above the trees, reddy brown kingfishers who live in long holes in the banks, then visited a place with caiman, turtles, piranha and a huge big mouthed fish too, and a couple of macaws.

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We saw villages and petroleum boats and camps, little huts and locals going about their daily business in small motor boats, It reminds me of the Mekong but less mountainous.

Amazing day in the Amazon!!!!  After lunch at the lodge, we went out 3-6pm to the rescue site Monkey Island, where monkeys and other animals are set free after black market trades. There were woolly monkeys, squirrel monkey, capuchin monkeys too.

We saw a 6ft Anaconda slithering to freedom after just arriving, whilst the other was in a pond with only his face out!! There were several species of monkey including the large, lanky spider monkey and tiny cream one.   There was an Amazonian racoon that tried to climb up my leg at one point, and he was cute!  Cuter though was the baby sloth we all got to hold – he was like a baby, arms round my neck and shoulders, legs hooked round my waist and apparently sleepy eyes whilst on me!!! So cute and cuddly, like a baby with sharp claws that didn’t want to let go!!!!

One woolly monkey found a plastic bottle, unscrewed the lid, lent down from the boats moored to put water in it, then reseal the bottle!!! Very clever…

A six foot Anaconda around my neck, and a toucan on my arm!!! Who would ever have believed – not least me!  So cool!

There were green red, blue and turquoise mackaws and a toucan under the hut!!!

It was so cool to see all these animals!!!! Then we sailed off to look for the pink dolphins and saw several; they are quite big and really pink!!! We sat in the boat watching the sun set and the birds – white herons settling on the edge of the lagoon for the nights, lots of white terms in the trees opposite, and smaller birds including the brown kingfisher.

Watching dusk descend and then sunset was just superb!!! Quite moving and stunning colours from red, yellow, blue and purple.

After dinner of catfish and salad, sweet banana, people chatted, Ashuco came to sit with me.  He was impressed at how excited I was over the sunset and the Amazon, perhaps!  It’s so peaceful, and relaxing here on the Amazon and so beautiful, under the sunset or the stars, on the water, amongst the jungle…

Came back to hut, under mosquito net which was a tight squeeze!  ooops need to get me torch for toilet in the night!! And water, and spray just in case, and my towel as an extra cover when my arms get cold…

Due to be up at 5.30 am for bird watching outing 6 am tomorrow it seems, then breakfast back at camp and chill before the  next trip!!

Magical Machu Picchu

12/4/16

 Well, I’m on my way to Machu Picchu!! The Culmination perhaps of my year out to travel, this was the central point that the trip was built around!  Wanting to get away from the world I wanted to go to the highest mountain in … Peru (the most distant place I could then imagine, dramatic, isolated etc. 

 

And now I’m here. Perhaps mot the highest mountain but high enough at 3,400 m or 11,000ft in Cusco, higher at 3,800 m over the mountains back down to the need to acclimatise or suffer altitude sickness – upset stomach which I arrived with in Cusco anyway, sleeplessness, breathless, tired, headaches (which is the only thing I didn’t get) 

Just how did the Inca get here through this terrain? And why, looking at the size of these mountains would they choose to build a city of 1000 people up there, to farm maize, wheat and potatoes and be self-sustaining?  They did have a science centre elsewhere to develop their farming knowledge, but that is down near Cusco, 167 km away.   And then take 50 years to build it, and stay only 36 years before abandoning it in fear of the Spanish invasion.  The Spanish though never got that far, and their move to the jungle edges for safety also only lasted 36 years. 

 Although it was believed it was built to be nearer their gods of sun and moon, it wasn’t purely a religious basis for the city, with the farming, astronomy and other skills they used their.  The king had his own en suite toilet area, they built water and drainage systems 7m underground and all around the city, using rainwater from surrounding mountains and directing it to their city (a nat geo programme said from two mountains away, using sidewalk channels and falls to pass water all through the city – as much as London has per head today!

 

It was so warm, but sitting in the sun nice, but to climb the many steps was hard, especially at altitude.  The altitude really does affect people and some don’t realise the impact and put it down to something else, like a stomach bug.

Jungle camp!

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!!!

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