5/29/10: Iquitos, Peru
I need to tell you a secret. Please don’t tell Kevin. Here goes…
Today was our last day in the jungle, and I was definitely ready to leave. In fact, I was ready to leave three days ago. And two days ago. And yesterday. I’m sorry.
It was the bugs. Oh my god, the bugs. There were so many bugs that it’s impossible for me to exaggerate how many there were. We had mosquitoes in Africa (minor nuisance), we had mosquitoes in Southeast Asia (scarcely even noticed them), but we were not ready for the bugs of the Amazon. We have a bottle of REI Jungle Juice (98.1% DEET) that I had never used because I didn’t like the way it smelled, I didn’t like how it made my skin feel oily, and I didn’t like the fact that it’s strong enough to corrode plastic. But oh, how quickly my strongly-held beliefs changed when put to the test! I would have bathed in Jungle Juice if it would have stopped the mosquitoes from coming near me. I would have drunk it and let it seep out of my pores. I would have poured it all over me and set myself on fire. But I think that would have been a bit dangerous. As it was, I slathered on an extremely unhealthy amount onto my clothes and every inch of bare skin below my chin every time we walked into the jungle. And still – the bugs, they were everywhere. They were on my shoulders. They were on my back. They were on my hair. They were on the backside of my knees. We all had bites on our hands and feet. I even got a few on my butt. The worst was when I would feel something in my ear and put my finger in there only to pull it out and find it smeared in blood and squashed mosquito.
Most people only do three or four-day trips, and it’s easy to see why. I kept wondering what had possessed us to decide to do six. Why were we putting ourselves through this? Every day, I counted down the activities until the day we would leave. I woke up on day four and said to myself, “Only two more nights!” After our all-day hike on day five, “Only two more excursions! I won’t ever have to come back here again! I will never EVER EVER be this itchy in my life again!” (Can you believe I was the least bitten of the three of us? After three days, Amy had over a hundred bites on her legs. I probably had 20 or maaaaybe 30. I am a wimp.)
And finally – today, we left Muyuna Lodge. We did our last excursion – a walk through the nearby village of San Juan, population 129, ate lunch, and boarded the speed boat back for Iquitos.
We pulled into the pier around four in the afternoon, and I hopped out of the boat. I can only describe what I experienced as immediate and extreme culture shock. We had only been in the jungle for six days, but somehow in those six days I had forgotten what the rest of the world looked like. What are those strange contraptions on wheels hurtling by at astounding speeds? Why are there so many of them? Why are they making these odd, insistent honking noises? Take me back to the jungle!
It’s true – as soon as we stepped foot in Iquitos, I wished we were back at Muyuna Lodge. I missed the cozy kerosene lamps that lit the wooden walkway leading to our lodge. I missed the loud jungle night noises, the hooting and croaking and shrill whoop-whooping. I missed the quiet rhythm of our days – explore, eat, explore, nap, explore, nap, eat, explore, sleep. I missed the quiet canoe rides and jungle hikes. I missed watching the sloths do nothing in the trees. I missed it all. I even almost forgot about the mosquitoes. It’s funny how your mind plays these tricks on you, isn’t it? So now that we’re back in Iquitos, ask me how our trip to the jungle was. Don’t be shy, go ahead, ask.
You: How was your trip to the jungle?
Z: Oh, it was amazing. We saw all kinds of animals. My favorite were the sloths – they’re so funny looking. Almost like it should be impossible that they even exist. And the lodge was really great. They work really closely with the village next to them, recycling and making sure the all the waste goes back to Iquitos. And the location was perfect – really peaceful and remote. The staff was really nice, and the food was great too.
Y: So it sound like you had a pretty good time.
Z: Yep, loved every minute of it… (afterthought) Oh, but if you go, watch out for the mosquitoes.
Picture of the Day: One of the villagers shot this jaguar when it came near his little girls.