Winter Holidays – Day 1 Lima to Tarapoto

July 24, 2012

I spent a frantic morning running round sorting out small details; standing in the queue in BCP, getting keys cut in Wong, going into school to scan some receipts to email to hotels in Chachapoyas, printing out receipts/boarding passes and generally making sure I had all of the info and things I needed. A friend of José’s, who now works as a taxi driver, arrived bang on time to take me to the airport which was FULL of foreign tourists (I don’t count myself as a foreign tourist any more, even though I act like one) wandering aimlessly and getting in the way.


A man pushed into the queue in front of me and, when I told him that there was a queue and pointed to the other 6 people in it, he said ‘ no, the queue goes this way, not that way’ pointing first straight out into the concourse, where stupid people in queues from other airlines were stopping any one else from being able to walk through the airport to find the correct desk and then pointing along the queue of 6 sensible people who were standing out of the way by doubling back parallel to the desks. When the next two people behind me also told him that this was, in fact, the queue he just said ‘ yes, well I was here before all of you’ . The woman behind me pointed out that this was, in fact a lie, that he had only just got here and he should go to the back of the queue and he just said, despite all of the evidence to the contrary ‘ No, I was here first’. Not much you can do about stubborn, bare-faced lies like that so we let him stay there. It cheered me up later when I saw him have to go through the security metal detectors about a million times, while those of us he pushed in front of sailed though. Does that make me a mean person?


The flight left bang on time and arrived 10 minutes early, always a nice feeling. I do get the impression that sometimes when I speak to people in Spanish it accidentally comes out in Russian… I asked the man on the plane for a coffee and a water, to which the man replied ‘ apple, orange or peach?’ I tried again thinking he must have misheard me and got the more sensible question ‘do you want sugar and creamer’ to which I replied ‘just creamer’. I then got given a glass of water and a cup of aniseed tea with sugar. I am still not sure how he got from café con leche to té de anis con azucar.


As I walked into the sauna that is Tarapoto in the dry season, I decided that jeans, whilst and excellent choice for a Lima winter, are not the best trousers to be worn in the jungle. My guide Miguel, picked me up from the airport and drove me the 45 mins, along newly tarmacked, and at one point even more newly landslid, road to the lodge stopping at a couple of ‘miradores ecoturisticos’. I am not sure exactly how a lay by with a nice view can be ‘ecotouristy’ but these ones had official signs, so they must be.


The setting of the lodge is absolutely beautiful and the grounds and buildings have been well designed to give each room a view over the river and jungle without being overlooked by any other rooms. The entire side of the room is made of floor to ceiling windows so the rooms are light and airy. The covered balcony runs the full width of the room too and is lighter and airier than inside the room. The beds are big and comfy, there are hangers and shelves for clothes, the bathroom is beautiful and everything is spotlessly clean. There are plenty of electricity points if you want to charge anything and there is a socket for a phone and TV. I don’t have either of the latter in my room, I think it’s because they only finished building my room 12 days ago and not all of the furniture has arrived yet. As I have no intention of watching TV when I could be watching a rainforest full of birds I don’t really mind! I do wish that the fool in the room below shared this view, or at least could watch TV on normal volume instead of a Lima volume. I can hear every word… What they had failed to tell me is that they are having building work done (a new larger swimming pool and a new larger dining area now that they have more rooms) and that they do not have internet any more but as I am here, on my own in a double room, at a discounted rate I can’t really complain.

The sunset was very strange. One minute I’m sat on my balcony reading and birdwatching as appropriate in full sunshine. It then seemed as if someone set the sun on a 3 minute slow fade after which it disappeared behind a mountain. Just then a man knocked on the door and asked me what I wanted him to cook me for dinner. When I asked him what there was he just looked perplexed, as if not expecting the question, and said after a long pause ‘pasta or meat or chicken or pork’. I tried in vain to get more details but he looked so shy that I took pity on him and ordered ‘pasta with meat’. What I got at 7 pm when I went to dinner, was spaghetti in a creamy garlic sauce, with parmesan cheese and some unidentified, yet tasty, meat that had obviously been smoked over the cooking fire at some point. This came with a jug of juice that tasted of lemon, a tasty salad with some kind of lettuce, palm heart strips and avocado and then a pudding consisting of fried sweet bananas and lucuma ice cream and meringue. It was presented a bit haphazardly, with obvious effort, but no real understanding of how posh food should look. The portions were normal, that is I ate all of it and still felt like I had room to spare, however I am a pig and need a diet so this is all good!


I paused on my way to bed to have a look at those stars that you could see in the small patch of sky between the mountains. I love looking at the stars when I’m not in Lima – there are so many of them. I reckon it’ll be even better in Chachapoyas, a couple of thousand meters higher up! I’m looking forward to a few hours of walking to visit a waterfall and have a swim before lunch and a boat ride and swim in the river in the afternoon tomorrow. Breakfast at 0830… slackers… you wouldn’t get that in Tambopata!


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