[ Read about my first couple of days in the Amazon here 😀 ]
The chirping of the birds and the macaws woke me up bright and early on our third day in the Amazon rainforest. The Eco-Lodge had not been as comfortable these past two nights as our first night stay in the Bambu Lodge, but it could have been worse. We piled into the mini boat to ride towards Parrot Clay lick, which was essentially just a clay wall that parrots would visit early in the mornings.
The boat let us off in a rocky area with a small spot (in the form of a straw-thatched roof and a giant log) for tourists to sit down on and view the parrots feeding at the Clay Lick. Tons of green and blue parrots flocked to the beige clay wall entertaining us with their colors and their squawking. We happened to have one of my favorite breakfasts in Peru while watching the parrots too. Panqueques (Pancakes) and Dulce de leche or manjar as it is called in Peru was used in place of syrup. The manjar came in small packets that you could squeeze out and cover your panqueques with. Aunt Jemima’s traditional pancake syrup is really no comparison to manjar.
After getting our fill of parrots and pancakes, we hopped onto the little boat and rode out to another part of the forest covered in green lushness and silent lagoons. After following a trail and observing squirrel monkeys in our path, we found a beautiful lagoon with more colorful birds. There were wooden rafts left near the lagoon that visitors could ride around it to observe the wildlife. Fernando navigated one raft and let a Spaniard navigate another so the weight would be evenly distributed over both rafts. We did get stuck in the middle of the lagoon a couple of times because it was pretty shallow, but it only added to the excitement of the new adventure. On the boat ride back to our lodge, we saw also saw a capybarra! This is basically like a huge brown guinea pig that is also native to the Amazon (check out the video).
After the coldest shower I have ever taken and a fulfilling lunch, Fernando took us on another hike uphill, using his machete to create his own trail and cut down any annoying plants in our way. His machete really came in handy in a place like this where the trails were not clearly laid out due to the small number of mainstream tourists. Fernando led us to a giant log behind which loomed a large bench for observers. He mentioned that this would be a great place to spot monkeys. We sat around for an hour, quiet as mice, as crazy mosquitos attacked us through our clothing. Unfortunately, no animal made an appearance but I did count 50 mosquito bites on my legs and feet later!
“Who’s up for another night hike after dinner?” Fernando asked casually.
The couples were tired and decided to retire to their rooms for the night after dinner. The pair of friends from Scotland and England and I decided we were up for one last adventure because it was our last night in the jungle. As Fernando continued to use his machete to its fullest potential but cutting down weeds and other shrubbery in our path, it was still difficult to find the snakes that night. Usually, snakes are the easiest to spot in the jungle and most people are able to spot boa constrictors hanging from trees. I’ve always found snakes really intriguing and set out on this last optional night hike to be able to spot some, but to no avail.
Soon enough we heard some beautiful singing that came from a bird, Fernando explained. It wasn’t any old bird. This bird would sing to visitors to the jungle and could eventually deceive anyone that dared to wander off from the trail. Apparently, this bird was a huge part of Amazonian legends. Fernando had grown up in the Amazon and could confirm that people had experienced surrealistic occurences because of this bird.
The bird can take human form, or close enough to human form at least. It can transform into a little boy that may resemble an elf. If you are lost in the jungle, this boy will tell you he can help you find the way. You follow this little boy further and further into the jungle. Then, he disappears and you cannot find a way out. You are now lost forever and eventually end up dying in hopeless despair.
As someone who is not huge on superstitions, this story still made me shiver with fright. I knew the Amazon was a mystical place, but this story opened my eyes on what kind of legends exist in the area.
After our informative walk, the three of us and Fernando were ready to retire to our beds. It wasn’t super late, but after 9 pm everything is pitch black in the jungle and there is nothing to do but sleep. There is no electricity in the lodges, but we were given matches and candles. It was almost soothing to have this old-school approach to electricity. Simplicity at its best.
My last task for the night was to pry off the stubborn rubber boots that somehow didn’t want to slide off of my oh-so-muscular ankles. I sat in a wooden chair and as I was finally able to yank off the boot on my left leg, a black figure, definitely bigger than a butterfly flew past me. Did I mention half of the roof was open so anything could fly in at night? We did have a measly mosquito net to protect us from the small insects, but anything bigger than that could easily fly into the net.
From the sounds I heard a few minutes later to the silhouette of the creature that flew past me I knew it was a bat. And a little while later, I was pretty sure there were two of them fighting with each other, preventing me from getting my beauty sleep in this vast jungle. I sprang out of bed, grabbed my phone for light, and slipped on some flip flops.
“FERNANDO!” I yelled out in desperation as quietly as I could. He was nowhere to be found. Not wanting to disturb the sleeping couples, I knocked on the door of the two friends. Despite the meager-sized twin bed, the Scottish girl, who had been fast asleep, listened to my sob story and offered to let me squeeze in with her for the night. Phew!
Our last day was filled with more lush scenery (as we made a few stops on the way back to Cusco) and it sadly ended with good-byes. I was glad I had met so many interesting people and that they wanted to stay in touch too! Even more than meeting people, the jungle really helped me get back in touch with nature. I never have high expectations when I visit a place, because I usually go with the flow and take it as it is, but the jungle really surpassed all and any expectations. Spending four days there helped me see a different, minimalistic approach to life that I think so many of us need to go out and experience at least once in our lives. It will surely become an unforgettable experience like it did for me (aside from the noisy bats)!