***SO this is late… this is last week… But the trip I describe? I feel it’s legit to blame the lateness on the AMAZON RIVER! Clearly, traveling and my BFF being here has messed up my writing schedule significantly. Also, we didn’t have
much ANY internet many of the days. Hope you enjoy the travel photos for these two weeks… this was an amazing adventure!
This was a pretty normal (read boring and real life) early week. Working from home, hitting the grocery store, having friends over for dinner, going to the mall. You know, life.
This was a pretty big day. We went to a soccer game, no excuse me, a fútbol game! If you have never been to a South American fútbol game, you are missing out. The crazy crowd energy was so worth it! It was also a huge rival game, the Nacionales V. Medellin. It was pretty great! (Check out this Tweet for a video taken at the game!)
On the way there and on the way back the tram system was so crowded, I feared for my life a few times. Ok maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration. But when one has very few actual fears, however, one of them is “stampeding crowds,” then it can totally feel like your life is in your hands! THAT part I did NOT like and it was difficult to breathe and I was ready to cry a few times. Especially when my friends casually dismissed how I felt as being a baby.
I was hoping to see Tinder cutie Alex before I left on our big trip, but since he is working full time and going to school full time he just couldn’t fit it in. I like him and I would like to see him again, but it is clear (and he told me this before) that this would not be a full-time relationship. His life is just too busy right now. (Don’t worry, I plan to fill in the time with other Tinder dates as I can!)
Here is where things get SUPER INTERESTING!
On Friday my BFF and I got up at the crack of dawn and headed to the airport. We were off to the Amazon region of Colombia! Specifically to the city of Leticia. Leticia is part of the “Tres Fronteras” region of the country- Colombia, Brazil, and Peru all border here! We got settled into our hotel and went to get some food.
We found a very local “Parilla” (grill restaurant) and got seats in plastic chairs at a plastic table out on the sidewalk. The server came and assumed we wanted to have the “regular” lunch, so we said, “Of course!” What came was awesome. Chaufa rice, yucca slices, and a bunch of different types of meats grilled right outside the restaurant on the street (right next to us.) All this food for less than 10$ USD.
After a quick swim in the pool and a nap, we went to the main park in town to see the bazillion parrots and swallows that come to roost in the park every night. That was an amazing experience! I love birds, my BFF not so much, but we were both in awe at the noise they made and how they, especially the swallows, just dove out of the sky into the trees! Crazy! (Check out this Tweet to see the video of the birds and the crazy noise they made!) https://twitter.com/ELByrne1/status/1121945033496760320
After that, we headed to dinner. We took a tuk-tuk taxi and went to Tabatinga, Brazil. Someone had recommended a place there to eat. BUT as we got closer and closer, and crossed the Frontera area (border) we realized two things; the neighborhood was getting sketchier and sketchier, and we didn’t see any other tuk-tuks, so we weren’t sure how we would get back to Leticia.
Then our lovely chauffeur, Carlos, a sweet grandfatherly type, told us he didn’t think we should stay there, that it might not be safe. We were more than happy to listen to his wisdom and asked him to take us back to Leticia and recommend a good seafood restaurant. He did! Sometimes, you have to rely on your gut and the advice of friendly locals. We ended up just a few blocks from our hotel, in a very safe place, and eating amazing fish for dinner!!
Oh Saturday! Another early morning! We got up and were met by our guide at 6:20 am. We carried backpacks, rubber boots (wellies,) and a rain poncho. We followed the guide through the early morning market place to the Amazon river and got into a water bus which took us more than two hours down the river to Puerto Nariño, Amazonas, Colombia. There we were greeted there by our “team” for the weekend- Pedro our local Ticuna guide and our translator Monica. We got settled into our hotel (I use that term loosely- it was more like a summer camp cabin, with screens instead of walls, bunk beds, and a pipe with cold water for a shower!)
We immediately donned our boots and headed out for a very muddy (it’s the height of the rainy season in the Amazon right now) walk in the Amazon jungle. Highlights include:
- Pedro sharing with us the many medicinal and practical uses of plants and trees along the way.
- My BFF getting stuck in the mud as we crossed a creek.
- I got bit on the flabby underside of my arm by what must have been a legion of bugs.
- Being soaked with sweat, completely through our clothes, within 15 minutes.
- Two adolescent howler monkeys screeching in our ears at an animal reserve.
- The biggest dayum fish I have ever seen (ever see the show River Monsters?) https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/pirarucu/153775
After the walk, we had a local lunch and about an hour to rest before heading off in the small aluminum motorboat that would become our home away from home for the rest of the weekend. We headed out to the headwaters of the tributary and the Amazon river to look for pink and grey dolphins! Yes! You read that right. Fresh water and truly pink dolphins, both species (grey and pink) live in the rivers and lakes of the Amazon region. https://www2.padi.com/blog/2017/02/13/5-facts-amazon-pink-river-dolphin/
After that, we headed off to the flooded jungle. Because it’s the high water season, the jungles along the edges of the rivers and lakes in the region are completely flooded. In some areas, the water is as high as 8 meters! So we were floating through the tops of the jungle canopy. Pretty amazing. We saw a few sloths and a lot of incredible birds.
We had the option to walk in the jungle for a night walk, but we declined. More mud and bugs in the dark? Uhm, that was a hard no! LOL So instead, Pedro just kept taking us deeper and deeper into the flooded jungle. As the night fell, the reflections of the trees on the water became increasingly difficult to distinguish from the actual trees. It was the most amazing sensation of floating in the sky among the trees. It was so amazingly peaceful, floating there, listening to the sounds of night falling all around us. Freaking incredible!
Back out in the open river, the stars were amazing! All I could think of was “WOW! Who gets to do this? What an amazing blessing my life is!” Sharing this experience with my best friend was an even bigger bonus. It is going to be hard to beat this vacation! (Though we have plans to try for my 50th birthday in a few years!)
After another hearty local meal, same as lunch just different proteins (Rice, beans, protein – fish, chicken or beef, and platano) we headed to bed. We hung all of our clothes around the room hoping they would dry (they never really did) and fell exhausted into bed knowing we still had two days of adventure left!)
Another day spent almost exclusively on the boat. After breakfast we headed down one of the rivers to look for more dolphins and then headed to another animal refuge. There we hung out with red and blue macaws, squirrel monkeys, and a sweet baby black monkey while hanging out in hammocks overlooking the river. I guess usually there is a whole troop of black monkeys, but they were deeper in the forest and not there right then.
In the afternoon, we headed to a gorgeous huge lake. On the way in, we stopped at the fishing check-in station and Pedro, Monica, and I all hopped in the lake for a refreshing swim. I tried to forget that there were giant river monsters and piraña in the same water, and just enjoyed the fresh water and the fact that, OMG! I’m swimming in the AMAZON!!!
We all changed into jeans and dry-ish clothes (we would be out into the night again and BUGS!) and headed into the flooded forest- to this gorgeous cove under the trees and air plants, and went piraña fishing with traditional wooden fishing poles. (This whole process inspired a post I still want to write called “Fishing for Piraña Vs. Catching Piraña- A story about expectations” coming soon!) It was a lovely time, and my BFF caught three fish, including a piraña, while I was just a snack bar for nibbling fish!
This evening, after watching the sunset and dusk fall over the river, (fucking brilliant!) we cruised the shoreline for caiman. Our guide caught a small one for us to see, but the others he found were all way too big for him to grab and pull into the boat safely! EEK! Mostly, I just enjoyed riding in the boat and checking out the sky again. I wish my camera were good enough to pick up the brilliance and beauty of riding across the lake, looking at the sky reflected in the water and also above you. (Sigh- just amazing!)
Again, dinner, trying to dry clothes and crashing early! Tonight it was cooler, and since there is no hot water so we decided to skip showers, just crash instead. Plus it was raining again all night so everything was damp anyway. In the morning we also decided to just give in and forgo showers again! All our clothes were wet and stinky anyway- we might as well be too! LOL
- 3 days in the Amazon Region
- 2 days on the actual amazon river on a tour
- Too many amazing animals, birds, and experiences
- Lots of bonding with my best person
I’ll post the rest in next week’s review. I can’t put it all in one post or it would definitely be too long!! And no one would want to read it all! Check out week 18 for the rest of the Amazon trip and some wanderings around Medellin!