Peru, again

Two summers ago, I went to Peru with my mom and we chose to fly home early when I got food poisoning that did not appear to be getting any better after a few days bed rest (see previous entry). I am back in Peru, and after nearly two weeks I am proud to say that my stomach is doing just fine somehow!

Chris and I spent a few days in Lima preparing for our upcoming trip into the jungle. After going to a few different markets we set off on a 20 hour bus ride (that ended up being 23 hours of course) to Pucallpa. The brakes on the bus broke down twice, the girl in the seat behind me vomited out the window four times, and we only stopped to use a bathroom twice. Peruanos are camels apparently. Between Chris and I we have a small library so we have plenty of entertainment for long trips like this.

Pucallpa was a real eye opener for what was ahead of us, further away from civilization. Our hotel was one of what seemed to be only two buildings in the city with a real roof, and a decent hotel room was about 15 dollars. We went to a sit down restaurant and between the two of us ordered 2 glasses of local fruit juice, soup, arroz con pollo, ensalada, some cut of beef, and a few other sides. The total bill? 4 dollars.

Chris and I took a cab (in Pucallpa, a motorcycle with a cart attached to the back) down to the port and found the captain of a cargo ship heading to Iquitos. We paid him directly and one of the crew men took us to an upper deck where he showed us where to hang our hammocks that we had purchased at the Inka Market in Lima.

Deck of the cargo boat

This was the start to our 5 day, 4 night boat ride through the Amazon on the deck of a cargo ship. I have napped in a hammock before but never slept in one for four days straight, especially not exposed to the elements shoved onto a deck with a fifty locals on a smelly boat. The kitchen on the boat served food three times a day, but Chris and I had read reviews that the food tends to result in dysentery so we packed plenty of canned food and bottled water. The combined smells of the many bodies swinging in their hammocks around us, the chickens, turtles, dogs, and cows on board, and the god awful cells they called “Bathrooms” left me with no appetite. Besides tasting one or two bites of the boat food and eating a few granola bars, I basically went the whole four days without a real meal.

The Amazon River at sunset

By the time we docked at the port in Iquitos, I was ready for some fresh air (funny, considering I had been on a boat deck for 5 days), an enclosed room away from bugs the size of Godzilla, and a real meal. We got all three in Iquitos for one night before signing up to sleep at Delfin Camp in the Amazon Rainforest for three nights. The day after arriving in Iquitos, Chris and I hopped in a car with a jungle guide and a Shaman and took off for the jungle. The camp we stayed at was primitive: no electricity or running water, thatched roofs, bugs galore.

Chris had brought up the possibility of participating in an Ayahuasca Ceremony, so this is how we spent our first night. We were shut in a room just the two of us and a shaman. The three of us drank the most foul concoction I have ever tasted and we were off on an adventure entirely in our minds. The shaman made Chris and I lay down in our beds until the ayahuasca started kicking in. Once it did, it’s hard to explain what happened next. The shaman took his turn with each of us, chanting, whistling, and blowing air over our bodies as he summoned good spirits in and expelled the bad. During this whole time, Chris and I were tripping hard, and the shaman was as well I imagine, considering that the moment it was done he left the room to vomit over the railing for a good five minutes. My turn to vomit came about an hour later, and an hour after that, and another hour after that when the effects of the ayahuasca were still going strong and Chris and I could barely formulate words or sit up.

Me holding a caiman!

Tripping on ayahuasca with a shaman was not all that we experienced in the jungle. Our tour guide Falcon showed us all the different aspects of jungle life. We saw a local village of people living in huts, learned what plants had good medicine and which had toxins. Chris ate a larva. We went fishing for piranhas and ate the catch for lunch. Falcon pointed out iguanas, dolphins, snakes, birds, monkeys, and even managed to catch two wild baby alligators while we were canoeing. The entire time we were there, we were prey to mosquitoes, being eaten alive despite wearing long sleeves and pants and slathering on insect repellent every hour or so. Nothing stopped them except for the mosquito nets around our beds where I found refuge at every chance possible.

I should mention what has been the hardest part of this trip for me thus far. Both on the boat and in the jungle Chris and I were unable to shower for four or five days at a time. When I get a chance to upload photos from the trip, I might look particularly sweaty in a few, but don’t be deceived; it is probably grease.
We left the jungle today and have traveled very far since this morning: boat to Nauta from Delfin Camp, car ride to Iquitos, plane from Iquitos-Pucallpa-Lima, and now we are on a bus from Lima to Ica so that we can go sand boarding tomorrow on the large sanddunes of Ica. more later!


  1. mck, i love this blog, i'm so happy you're doing all of this. its inspirational to me for sure.. i can't wait to start seeing the world :)



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