Saturday/Sunday, November 11 - 12, 2000
Traveling to a place a second time is a much different experience than seeing it for the very first time. It is a little like rereading a book. You know the plotyou've seen the major sightsso you can focus on the details and experience things you might have missed the first time when everything was so new and strange.
We all made it to Lima and through customs without any problems shortly after midnight. We traveled all day to get to Lima, and we still had another six hours until our next flight was scheduled to depart for Iquitos. Rather than leave the airport to find a hotel for just a few hours sleep, we spread our bags around the floor, took out our the blankets we brought for sleeping on the boat deck, and fell asleep for a few hours on top of our luggage.
The early morning flight to Iquitos was beautiful. The sharp and angular Andes rose up like islands out of an ocean of clouds. The seemingly inhospitable mountains then gave way to the lush, green forest. The jungle canopy stretched as far as our eyes could see, broken only by the rivers and ox bow lakes. Tamara met us at the airport and we were delighted to see her after so much time. This is her last trip to study dolphins in the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, and we feel so lucky to be sharing it with her. This time we will travel farther into the reserve than sheor even the boat crewhave ever been. We will donate our car battery to Ranger Station 5, the most remote station, when we leave. The battery is a "backup" to recharge our equipment, should we have a cloudy day or two and not be able to use our solar panels.
Once we rested a bit, Tamara came by with Enzo, a Bolivian biologist who will be traveling with us. He and Tamara have a running "debate" as to which is more beautiful, the Bolivian or the Peruvian rainforest. Enzo also studies river dolphins. However, only the boto species lives in Bolivian rivers.
After a short rest, the five of us took motokars to the market to purchase last minute supplies that we will need for our trip. There are no markets within days of where we'll be traveling.
After a lunch of fried rice, Chinese noodles, large ripe avocados and fresh lemonade, we walked around the town looking at the antique tiles on many of the buildings and colonial architecture. We stopped to watch some children playing with an old rubber tire. Every Sunday there is a military paradenaturally we found ourselves in the middle of it.
Iquitos is currently in the middle of a heat wave which means it is really, really hot and humid here. The watermelon slices being sold on the street are especially tempting. It is hard to believe that we will need those blankets once we are on the river.
We noticed a lot of changes in Iquitos. The dolphin fountain in the middle of the square has been replaced, there are improvements being made to the promenade along the river, and there are at least 20 Internet cafes here instead of the three or four that were here last year. This evening Mike and Geoff will arrive from the United States. They will be helping us collect high quality and video and sound on this expedition. We plan to pick them up, have a light dinner and then get to bed early.
Tomorrow we will be on the river.