My Amazonian Adventure (Part 1)

“Lena!! I got the tickets from Chiclayo to Chachapoyas!!” I said excitedly, “Chachapoyas?! WHY?” she replied. “Didn’t you want to go to Tarapoto via Chachapoyas so you could see it? I asked confused” Blank faced, we realized…. we had last discussed plans before I went to Colombia over a month ago and they had changed so…the trip began with a slight misunderstanding but we were not going to let it dampen our spirits! We boarded our bus at around 10pm and would reach Chachapoyas at 8am where we would figure out how to get to Pedro Ruiz, a small town where buses go straight to Tarapoto. (FYI you can get direct buses from Chiclayo to Tarapoto)

ferry journey

Tarapoto lies at the mouth of the Amazon and we were trying to catch a three day ferry down the Amazon river to get to its belly which was in Iquitos.  At about 4am the busdriver yelled “Pedro Ruiz!”. “OMG Lena! This is where we have to try and get to tomorrow, we should just get off the bus now!” “Yeah you should” said the annoying american girl sitting across from us who kept jumping into our conversations… seriously doesn’t she sleep? We sleepily stumbled off the bus and got our bags and then we realised we were in the smallest, quietest town ever. There was not a soul around, no hostels, no coffee shops, just mountains, a few houses, pitch darkness and the pitter patter of stray dogs. The bus station had its shutters down but the bus driver told us we could get in. We knocked on the shutters and someone let us in, he said there would be no buses until 8am and we should reserve our seats, so we did. We sat down at a table, half of the bus station was a restaurant, we asked for a coffee and played cards till about 6am. Then we decided to explore the town and we headed to the market at the crack of dawn. The market was full of people having breakfast, lots of stalls sold hot drinks such as hot chocolate, coffee, soy milk and a soup type thing made with quinoa. It looked like every other modello I had seen in Peru, only the sizes ever varied but they sold all sorts of nik naks, all had a meat and fish section, fruit and veg and the food stalls.

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We headed back and waited for our bus, it had gone 8.30 and I asked the guy what time our bus would arrive, he said soon…11am and still no sign. We entertained ourselves by eating, drinking and playing cards. Eventually the bus came and we reached Tarapoto at about 7pm. We found a decent hostel, got some food and went straight to bed!

Tarapoto was ok, we stayed a couple of days but were worried that we wouldn’t make the ferry in time as some journeys are shorter then others and we wanted to get the 3 days/2 nights ferry rather then the 5 day one that a friend of ours had ended up on. I felt disappointed with Tarapoto, considering we were close to the jungle you could not even tell. It was a pretty big city and the only greenery I could see was the plants in our hostel. We went to the market in Tarapoto which was huge and got some things that we needed for our trip, I wish we had bought hammocks as they were a fraction of the price and much nicer compared to the ones in Yurimaguas, you need them for the ferry journey.  We mostly chilled, talked and played cards, went to eat, walked around a little. I think we were tired from our journey and just enjoyed the feeling of not having to do anything, there wasn’t a lot to do anyway as we had planned to do our jungle tours from Iquitos and Tarapoto had similar ones.

We found the combi (minibus) that takes around 2 hours to get to Yurimaguas, we waited for about an hour which felt like nothing after our previous 10 hour waiting for a bus stint. The journey was picturesque and the roads were not made for people with a weak stomach as they are high up and full of sharp bends however we enjoyed the drive.

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We arrived in Yurimaguas and I loved it! It was a small place with so much character, we arrived on the night of the elections so the streets were full of people crowding around televisions to see the results. There was a beautiful atmosphere and it was more green then Tarapoto, you could actually tell that you were in the jungle. We ate delicious street food at this great place and we enjoyed the tropical climate AND we bought our tickets for the ferry which would leave the next day 🙂 I was sooo excited! I need a separate blog for the epic cruise down the Amazon, there you will learn how our boat journey became longer then expected, how the boat left without Lena while I lay in my hammock and our little ferry family 🙂 Look forward to sharing Part 2 with you tomorrow!

Toodles x

Peruvian Patterns

I’ve been here in Peru for a month and have gone gaga over Peruvian stripes and prints. I really love the vibrant summery colours and contrasts. I went to an artisanal market in Monsefu and couldn’t get over how cheap it was. I got this weekend bag and coin purse which has a white leather back for less then £10!

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 The textures and colours are really interesting, even the sweetcorn has amazing colours and patterns. Here are some Peruvian textiles, prints and stones
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Peru So Far…

I arrived at 5am in Lima and rushed to get a taxi to the bus station (Taxi Green are recommended), as I sat in the taxi, the driver asked me to hide my bag under the seat in front. He said it was the law as there are many car-jacking’s and it prevents us from being targets. I quickly removed my earrings from the night before in Miami and I looked pretty rough from the flight so I wasn’t really worried  about anyone targeting me. I was offered an emergency exit seat on the plane before I knew the plane was like a hundred years old so I took it. Unbeknown to little old me, a freezing cold draught comes through the rickety door for the entire flight.

Anyways, I was greeted by beautiful warm Peruvian weather and I was SO happy to be warm. The driver asked me where I’m from and was very excited to know I was from London and proceeded to play me the Oliver Twist audio book which was strange but somehow comforting. “What is ‘Getcha!’ he always says I’m gonna Getcha, what is this word Getcha! Getcha!” I explained and he pulled the taxi over for me to write it down for him “I’m going to get you” I tried to tell him it’s an accent and not really a word but he insisted it be part of his growing English vocabulary which I thought would be pretty fun for the next Brits who took his cab! “Hello! I’m gonna GETCHA!”. Then he started talking about the movie and I had to tell him my bus was leaving soon so I couldn’t stay and chat even though he was lovely and very entertaining. Had I known I wouldn’t get to speak English for another 24 hours maybe I would have stayed to chat a couple more minutes as he was a cute old man but hey…you live and you learn.

I boarded the double-decker bus with blacked out windows, reclining seats and footrests which  was a dream after that plane journey. Cruz Del Sur was the name of the company, they made National Express look crappy and they are known to be the best bus company in Peru, I would highly recommend them. The stewardess on duty handed out blankets and pillows and as I unpacked mine I could smell baby powder, wow, scented blankets! I noticed there was Wi-Fi on board so I suppose the 13 and a half hour journey could have been worse. I Skyped friends and family on the way showing them my first glimpses of Peru and it was really cool! The driver for some reason chose not to drive over 50km per hour although he was allowed to do 90 so in fact it was a 15 hour journey. I watched Spanish films and took pictures of the beautiful changing landscapes. I thought it would feel really foreign but every new landscape seemed familiar, the coastal scenes looked like Cape Town, the desert looked like the UAE, the mountains and luscious green vegetation brought flashbacks of Uganda. Although I don’t speak a word of Spanish the lady next to me insisted on talking to me in Spanish every hour for the first 10 hours and then resorted to talking to herself. I just nodded and smiled and then pretended to sleep a lot, the stewardess didn’t speak a word of English either. I soon learned that nobody did. I was met by a driver in Chiclayo who was supposed to take me to my place of residence.

Around 11pm, we showed up at this house somewhere close to the beach and I could hear the waves. I was met by Alex, another local who didn’t speak English, he showed me to a room. I wasn’t sure at that point where I was as he couldn’t answer any questions. The room had an unusual number of mosquitoes so I asked if he had a spray but unfortunately he didn’t. It also had someone else’s things in it, I later learned a girl was moving out when I moved in and it was in fact my room.

I asked him for a key, pulled out my sleeping bag and fell asleep pretty much instantly but awoke every few minutes to the sound of mosquitoes screaming in my ears…I’m not kidding they were SO annoying. I woke up the next morning looking like Quasimodo. I’m allergic to mosquito bites, I slept with my sleeping bag over my head but I guess one of those little s**ts got in there with me and feasted on my face. I literally looked like I had been beaten up, bites on my eyelid, forehead, one under the other eye and a couple on my cheeks. I had about 30 bites on my body but at this point they were the least of my worries.

I had my first day of Spanish class and then first day of work in the afternoon…great first impression. I think everyone wants to be the cool kid on their first day, well I just looked stupid, I went in with massive sunglasses on and eventually took them off and apologized for my face to which everyone was like “oh I can’t see anything”. I wasn’t sure whether they were being polite or whether it was because they hadn’t seen me before so they just thought I looked like that but anyways, they said I could take the day off and rest if I wanted to. I met a girl called Robin who offered to come with me to Chiclayo and showed me where to get a mosquito net and I got every kind of mosquito killer available. Sprays, coils, plug-ins, swats and plenty of repellent, I was on a mission and I succeeded. My room has since been a mosquito free zone, I burn those coils like incense and do a daily spray before I leave for work. I cleaned every surface and wall with a mixture of bleach and Raid mosquito killer so they know not to chill on my walls and I purposely left one of their deceased friends on the windowsill to make them aware that they are not welcome here.

So far I am really enjoying my experience here, I am in a seaside town in the North of Peru completely untouched by tourists other than the students who come to the school. More then anything I love living by the water and the amazing sunsets everyday. You just live the Peruvian way which is pretty chilled, timing doesn’t mean a thing and there are little restaurants which are actually in people’s houses all over town. You get a really authentic homemade food experience and grub here is to die for. So far I haven’t had a single thing I don’t like, the chef at the school has this magic touch when she cooks and makes everything delicious. We have BBQ’s every fortnight which she prepares and no exaggeration it was the best BBQ I have ever had! I am learning Spanish for four hours every day and I guess because nobody speaks English outside of work you are forced to practice. I was really proud of myself yesterday, I took a trip to a market and managed to bargain in Spanish, obviously I learnt the necessities first lol (will blog about the little treasures I bought in the fashion section later).

I have so much more to tell you but you will have to wait till the next blog …

Ciao for now! xx