Friday, July 31, 2015

Into the jungle - again

A Historia Familiar event was scheduled in Puerto Maldonado, in the Amazon jungle, and we were invited to attend.  It's a mining and logging town, located at the "Y" where the Tambopata river joins the Madre de Dios, a tributary of the Amazon.  It's 600ft above sea level, and 2400mi downriver to the delta.  Puerto has its own pace, much different than Cusco, and the climate during all seasons is quite tropical.  We're here in the "dry" season, which is only about 3 deg cooler than the hot season, but it doesn't rain, and the level of the river drops significantly.  When we were here in March, the river was quite a bit higher. 

We scheduled an extra day for a trip down the river, to see some of the sights we didn't get a chance to on our earlier trip.  There is quite a bit of traffic on the river, mostly in the long, narrow river boats seen here.  Most of the motors are the "mud buddy" homemade type, but a few do have real outboard motors.  They tie up and launch from the makeshift docks here, it's pretty much a free-for-all.  Several tour companies also operate out of here, and we selected one so that we didn't end up with an "African Queen" type of experience.

At our first stop, we tied up on a mud bank.  A few months ago, this was all under water, and the mud oozes down from the runoff.  The mud is quite unstable, and we saw a lot of it falling off into the river, hence the brown color of the water.

Lots of fauna and flora to see.  Many trees are entwined with the "strangler" vines as shown here.  Today there was a light overcast, and it took the edge off the heat, and made it a very nice day - but there's no escaping the humidity - it's like Mississippi in the summer.

Our first stop was a "canopy tour", with narrow cable bridges strung between big trees.  We got a good look at the forest from up high - about 60ft off the ground, and it really gives a different perspective.  I took a good look at the cables and bridge before Hna. J was allowed to cross.

Here's the 2 adventurers making their way across another section.

 Part of the adventure was a zipline through the trees.  Again, after a good inspection, Hna. J harnessed up and was the first one across.

There she goes -  -  -

 And here she comes again.  Never hesitated for a second.

All that adventuring earns a good rest and a little time in the shade before lunch.

The experiences never stop.  Fearless and intrepid Amazon explorer "Buckshot" heads downriver in search of new adventures.

 Narrowly escaping the fearsome denizen of the river, like this gigantic caiman.  Actually it was only about 5ft long, a baby.

 Fighting off the hordes of man-eating monkeys.  Actually these little critters are pretty cheeky, and are "protected", so if they approach you, you're supposed to stand still and let them poke and snoop around you.  The guide put some bananas in his pockets, and they come right up and take them out.  Luckily no defensive action was required.

After a day of adventuring, a beautiful sunset.

After discovering the long-lost "Orb of Light", fearless adventurer Buckshot instantly reverse-transforms into mild-mannered senior missionary Elder Johnson, and we make our way to our scheduled Family History appointments.

We've scheduled a week in Puerto Maldonado, actually extending our trip for an extra day of meetings at the end.  Puerto is one of Hna J's favorite places in the mission, but it's so far away that we may not be able to make it here again, and we want to take advantage of our time here.  Stay tuned!

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