Iquitos, Mariposario Pilpintuwasi and returning to Lima

I arrived in Lima from Huaraz around 6pm on Saturday, I rushed back to my hostel and arranged to meet Lisidey for some food that night in Miraflores. Lisidey didn’t speak any English and I thought it was time I tried to put my Spanish to the test again. I wasn’t quite sure where we were going but I was given the address of a shopping mall. I arrived first and the Uber dropped me off outside KFC so I waited here until Lisidey arrived. I was then taken to a very posh restaurant and she patiently used Google Translate while I ate a giant sandwich, which was delicious. I was a little sad that I only had three days in Lima as I had lots to do and lots to eat although my stomach was not happy through the duration of my stay. Somehow I managed to make myself understood and had a nice night.

I headed back to my hostel to discover 4 Belgiums in the room. They awoke and left early for a flight and I was left by myself. Today I had lots to do so I headed out and got myself a haircut, brought yet another new charger as mine had died again and some food. I wanted to do laundry but it was difficult being a Sunday so I headed back to Barranco to a sea food restaurant recomendΓ©is by Alice. I finally had some prawns but due to lack of understanding the menΓΊ I’m not sure I ordered the best dish.

Later that day I was meeting another friend Ingrid. She kept pushing the meet up time later as she met with her family and when she arrived we grabbed a coffee near the main square. I soon discovered that she sang in the church choir and the mass started in 30 minutes. I’ve never been to a Catholic Church mass in South America, or actually anywhere, so I took the opportunity to tag alone and had a good time although I didn’t really understand anything. Afterwards we went for a walk along the beach as Ingrid wanted to show me the area.

I slept in the next day, having swapped beds to the prized bottom bunk, sorted my laundry and decided to just take it easy. I was meeting Ingrid again later as she had offered to show me the cat park and some of Miraflores on a walk she particularly enjoyed. I relaxed and tried to research Iquitos in the morning and then had a huge lunch at Roxys which seems to be he Peruvian equivalent of Nando’s but much much cheaper.

I also grabbed a doughnut from Dunkin Donuts which I couldn’t resist as they had an Elmo face.

I managed to get all my laundry done and jumped on the bus to Miraflores where I fΓ­an Ku saw the cat park, well Kennedy Park and realised I’d already walked past it three times. There were more cats than in a usual park but in my mind it was going to be full of cats that you wouldn’t be able to move so I was a tad disappointed.

We then went for a long walk along the coast. It was sadly another grey coldish day in Lima. Apparently in the winter it’s mostly overcast and cold, nothing by London standards as it hardly rains, and in summer there are beautiful blue skies. I was told it turned Spring when I was there and since I’ve left it’s gotten much better, trust my luck, but for today we had grey which is my least favourite colour for the sky and I didn’t take many photos. Still I got to find out a lot about the city and find out more about New Kids on the Block. Ingrid is a fan.

Ingrid had to leave to make lunch, again in Peru people tend to have lunch as the main meal and she and her flat mate cook on alternative days. Today was her turn. I’d arranged to meet another friend who grew up in Iquitos as i was desperate for information about the city and I had wanted to travel to Ecuador by boat and there wasn’t much about how to do this online. Sadly I didn’t find out much as my friend didn’t know but I did get a tasty juice and got to try new food.

The next day I arose fairly late and met up with Lisidey again for lunch near her work. We had ceviche and she was kind enough to pay, she insisted pretty hard and gave me a tour of the city centre. My Spanish was really bad still but it felt good to try. I didn’t take a photo of the food and I regret it now as it was delicious.

I then headed back to Barranco where I met with Ingrid for one last time. She was trying to hunt down a chocolate bar and i was craving ice cream so we went to a local posh ice cream shop and I had the best ice cream I’ve had since Argentina.

We then just hung out in the park on a bench for the rest of the evening. So one thing I’ve noticed and really like about South America is that alcohol is not a huge part of the culture. People can very happily hang out and chat and there is no need to get drunk, or drink tea or anything. People sit in the plazas and parks and just chat on benches. I’d not experienced this until now and it was actually really fun. I know that we do do this in the UK but it’s more common to go to the pub or other location.

After Ingrid left I walked past Papa Johns and realised I was hungry so happily brought a take away pizza and ate it in my dorm.

The next day I woke at 6am to catch the bus to the airport. The uber dropped me off at the bus stop and the bus was actually early and early to the airport. Where during checkin I was told I needed to pay for a bag despite having paid for one already. Stupidly when I booked he flight I used a company called Kiwi. I don’t tend to use third party sites outside of Expedia, Opodo and Lastminute. I normally go to the airlines direct but because I’d booked this late at night before Santa Cruz I’d just used the site for ease. I tried to contact Kiwi and it’s obvious this is a recurring problem and the airline seemed to know and there was another woman who had the same problem. Annoyingly I’ve booked another flight with them and the same airline but hopefully that will work out. Paying for the bag twice left a bitter taste in my mouth and Kiwi were useless in helping me. So I’ve just had to make a claim.

I was determined not to let it ruin the day and after I arrived in Iquitos I ignored all the taxi drivers shouting at me and jumped in a tuctuc to my hostel. The heat and humidity hit me as I left the plane as it was over 30 degrees and finally I was somewhere I’d be hot for a long time. The air flowing past when the tuctuc was driving did help to cool me down.

So Iquitos is in the middle of the Peruvian Amazon. It’s also the largest city in the work that is not joined up by road. This means there are roads in Iquitos, just not accessible from the main network. And as a result there are a lot of bikes and not many cars. So when I was rushing to the hostel it was like being in a race as the bikes were so loud. These shots were talent he next day but I think it gives you an idea.

I checked in and had to wait for my room but was offered an Amazon tour for the next day. I spoke to the owner and read the good reviews and decided to go, but I wanted to spend an extra day in Iquitos and I decided to take a three day tour, not the four.

When I got into my room my back pain handily kicked in. This always seems to happen when I’m stuck as where to go next, actually the last real time it happened and I needed to find information was in Coyhaique and that was early March. But I’d face the same challenge again. I waited a few hours for it to subside but it didn’t so I headed out to the information booth. I wanted to go to Ecuador by boat. I knew it was possible as I’d read blogs but no one seemed to have anything concrete. The tourist information was a few blocks but I was in so much time by the time I reached the plaza i had to stop. Luckily it had good views.

Once the pain had subsided I visited the tourist office. Initially the lady had no idea how to get there but she tapped on her keyboard and soon had a timetable for me. As expected the first boat left on a Tuesday and Friday which gave me time for the Amazon tour and I’ll provide more details in the next post. I messaged the number on the printout that night and it confirmed all my questions and I was given an office address where I could buy a ticket, which made me happier as I like to reserve if I can.

I went back to my room and I now had a friend who was French. He had just left the jungle and we went to have dinner together both opting for the fish which was delicious and the most popular dish on the menu.

After that it was time to turn in for the night as I had had a long day and lots to do tomorrow.

In the morning i first went to buy my ticket for the boat, which I’ll go into more detail in the next post and after I wanted to visit Mariposario Pilpintuwasi, a butterfly sanctuary across the river from Iquitos. It was one of the places I had really wanted to volunteer but I’ve obviously ran out of time. To get there I needed to get a boat and the hostel told me I could get a collectivo for 3 soles, the boats work exactly the same way as the cars. I jumped in a tuctuc and headed to Bellavista Nanay, which is a harbour at the mouth of the Rio Nanay. When I arrived there was a food market in full swing. I ignored the people who tried to get me in their restaurants and boats and walked to the harbour. One man who had ran alongside the tuctuc followed me and I told him I was in no rush and wanted to look around. Another man told me that the collectivos only went in the morning and wanted me to take a tour for 30 soles. I walked away and someone pointed me to the right place. I was soon on a boat and after a short wait I was on my way.

The sanctuary is on the edge of a town called Padre Cocha. When you get off the boat there is a whole line of tuctuc s waiting to take you to your destination. There seem to be more drivers than residents in the town so I don’t know how it works but it obviously does. I decided to walk, which was probably a mistake as it was stupidly hot but I wanted to see the town and take my time.

By the time I arrived at the sanctuary I was stupidly hot. I was happy to enter the trees and get in the shade, which is still hot but a little less hot. I was the only person there when I arrived and although I’d missed the tour times Gurden, the Austrian owner who is a big fan of British English over US English and had already won me over, gave me a personal tour. What was really great is that I was in no rush and neither was Gurden, so I was able to take my time, ask lots of questions and saw things others wouldn’t as Gurden was happy to tell me all about butterflies. I won’t tell you here as you should go and find out! Gurden left for South America in a similar way that I did but when her time was nearly up she cancelled her flight and paid $20 for a years work visa in Peru. I get the feeling she has never left. I would be i don’t know where I’ll work.

The first stop on the tour was the butterfly enclosure. The most interesting thing I learnt is that butterflies don’t have colours on their wings. It’s the way the scales reflect the light which gives the colour. Crazy.

Next we went into caterpillar enclosure. Did you know most caterpillars are not poisonous, so don’t kill them. They just look scary so you don’t eat them. Some caterpillars change into a butterfly in less than two hours and most locals on the Amazon didn’t seem to understand that caterpillars turn into butterflies. I was given so much information I can’t repeat it here but Gurden knows so much, I suppose she has lived here for many years.

Next it was time to look around the animal sanctuary. Apparently the government started bribing animals here years ago and the collection has now grown. Apparently one problem is that people try to sell exotic animals on the streets of Iquitos. Tourists buy the animals and bring them to the sanctuary thinking they are rescuing them. What they have done is create a trade that doesn’t need to exist as the seller will then go and capture another animal to sell to tourists. Never buy an animal on the streets. Yes it might die but many more will if you do!

Interestingly the was the site was set up i was in a cage the entire time and these monkeys were actually in the wild. They were hand raised and decide to stay around. They were very happy and chatty and followed me around the tour despite their sad look.

Next I was invited to go int he cage with the small monkeys. When I was in the Gerden had to take a call so I was locked in the cage for 20 minutes but I got the best photos.

And then the little guys got curious about the camera and leaned right in.

Next I got to see some sloths close up and I was lucky as they were sleeping close to the edge of the cage.

There was a pelican

And a cat

And I had a close up experience with a Jugar who I’m sure could have gotten through the fence easily if he wanted…

So apparently this is a cross between a horse and a hippo. I don’t know if it’s man bred or natural but it’s weird…

All in the tour lasted two hours and then I headed back to Iquitos. I had to wait a while for a boat but the colours were beautiful at this time of day.

I arrived back at the hostel at 4pm and realised I hadn’t eaten lunch. So I went back to the same area as the night before where the restaurants are all along the river front and had a late breakfast/early dinner.

Then it was time to head back to the hostel and prepare for the jungle the next day.

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