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Winter Holidays Day 3 – Puma Rinri to Gocta

July 24, 2012

The woman downstairs obviously couldn’t sleep and I was woken up at 0230 by her putting the TV on. It took me ages to get back to sleep. When my alarm went off at 0645 I felt really drowsy, but one look out of the window into the beautiful, misty, jungle, made me feel much better! At exactly 0730 we left the lodge and made our way towards Tarapoto. We had a slight delay at the land slide. The contractors had a deal with the locals that they would allow traffic through for the first 15 minutes every hour. We arrived at 0805 to be told by one officious JCB driver that ‘obviously’ that didn’t include 0800 – 0815 as they only start at 0800 and can’t stop again straight away. After a bit of arguing and some threats to call the mayor they let us, and the rest of the local traffic (that had timed their journey to arrive around 8), through. We picked up a box lunch at one of the villages we went through and I was dropped at the Plaza where Lluis (yes it is a double L – it’s Catalan not Spanish) met me to bring me to Gocta. The road from Tarapoto to Gocta is nothing short of spectacular in parts. I had been led to believe that it was a poor road, but it was well maintained and tarmacked all the way through past Pedro Ruiz. Only the last 11 km from the main road to Gocta was track. It is dry season though so there isn’t the same risk of land slides as there is at other times of the year.

 

It took about 2 hours to reach Moyabamba where we stopped for an hour so I could go and look at humming birds and orchids. Surprisingly my guide for this bit turned out to be a 9 year old girl (whose father owns the orquidario) who was very good – she told me about lots of different food plants (including giving me a citrus fruit that looked like a green orange but tasted like lemonade and some blackberry like things) she then took me to the observation tower to look at humming birds. She didn’t know the English names, but she did find them for me on the bird plates that they had there. She then took me around the orchids. I have no idea how many different sorts they have flowering in peak season. It’s off season now and they had about 30 different species in flower and my diminutive guide told me the common name and scientific name of all of them in addition to telling me about 10 different species of heliconia and showing me a mixed flock of birds including dacnis, tanagers, orupendula and a pair of parrots that she seemed completely in love with! She took great care of the plants, moving fallen leaves off them, straightening flower petals and generally treating the plants like small children! It was quite sweet!

 

I got back in the car and we went to have a coffee in the newly opened shop of the cooperative that the Gocta Lodge buys its coffee from. It was very good coffee…

 

A couple of hours later we started to climb in earnest, with switchbacks in the road and lots of ‘curvas peligrosas’! We entered the Alto Mayo Protected area and the scenery went from beautiful to absolutely stunning. The type of forest had changed during the ascent and now we were surrounded by trees laden down with lichen and bromiliads. It is SO green – when you have been living in Lima for a bit you kind of forget what green really looks like!

 

We passed a lot of small villages and towns along the road, some in much better repair than others. We also passed a lot of people who seemed to be walking aimlessly in the middle of nowhere! One large town we passed earlyish in the journey had a MASSIVE cement works and what is apparently the largest 7th Day Adventist Temple in Peru. Apparently that was all it took for the cement company to buy their way into the village when the villagers protested about the plant before it was built. A lot of the towns have weird biblical names too – the cement plant place was 2nd Jerusalem and we passed Nazareth, Bethlehem, Gethsemane amongst others. It generally denotes a town founded by missionaries out of Cajamarca apparently.

 

A lot of the area around Tarapoto/Moyabamba is given over to paddy fields, but as you go higher into the mountains this changes to coffee and you see large black sheets covered with drying coffee beans alongside the road in every town you pass. You also see chickens pecking through them, small children rolling in them, people turning them over so that they dry evenly using their bare feet, and, in one town, a dog pissing on them. None of that has managed to put me off coffee though!

 

We arrived in Gocta around 1630 and I can not believe how beautiful the hotel is. Again the layout has been thought out carefully and the rooms all overlook the falls (the 3rd highest waterfall in the world!) and the surrounding cliffs. The swimming pool is set lower than the rooms so that it too has a view of the falls, but doesn’t spoil the views from the rooms and the dining terrace is also angled so you can see the falls. There are nicely maintained gardens, with orchids and plants that attract humming birds and a nice restaurant. As I sit typing this I can hear parrots and other birds and could see a pair of king vultures circling. A chicken has just walked across the grass with her brood of chicks and the sun is setting behind the mountains. I imagine it will start to get cold quickly once the sun goes in! I think I’ll go and try and arrange some tours for tomorrow and then see what the restaurant has to offer. Dinner’s not included in the room rate so I hope they don’t take advantage of us now they have us captive (allbeit in beautiful surroundings).

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