May 21:  Cuzco to Amazon jungle

Up 7:30am.  Showered etc. and packed.

At 9:30am I had breakfast.  Surprised to see Alex, Zvez and Dush there.  Alex was indeed staying at the Prisma.  So I got to do a couple proper goodbyes.  Alex ate at McDonalds last night, so we were in the same mood foodwise.

Taxi arrived at 9:50am, and I was at the airport at 10am.  Somehow my big bag weighed it at over 20 kg.  How?  I think it was 17-18 kg at LAX, and I used stuff up.

The flight to Puerto Maldonado in the jungle was short (11:50am-12:45pm).  I realized I had a bunch of candy in my carryon, so the Candy Maldonado reference I was waiting 7 months to make just wrote itself.  Walking across the tarmac I stretched out my arms and enjoyed the humid warmth.  I feel like I'm home, like in Philly or the uterus.

Effect of going from 11,000 feet down to sea level.  Cool.  The pressure crushed my water bottle into Mrs. Butterworth.  Reminded me of that Acme Wrestling Federation match when Kevin was competing against the team of Honey & Nuts and vowed (with exaggerated gestures) that he would "crush the nuts...and lick the honey dry!"  Note that it says "sin gas", or without carbonation.  "Sin gas" is also the Vatican's term for queefing.  Sin gas, ladies and gentlemen.

I met the G Adventures leader Ronald (contracted--actually works for the lodge) and rode to the G office to pick up lunch.  I was supposed to do the duffel bag thing again, but there was no mention of it.  I guess since I was the only one doing this excursion, my 20-kg bag wouldn't take up too much room.  We continued on to the port at Infierno, then took a 2-hour boat ride to get to the lodge.  Along the way we had to stop at a checkpoint.  They stamp your passport here.  I didn't want another giant non-border stamp, but the guy said it featured a tiger, and he demonstrated by stamping it on a piece of paper.  OK then, give me a tiger stamp.  Now I feel complete as a man.

My tour group on the boat.  We broke out lunch along the way.  Chicken and rice, which was nice, like Riunite on ice.  Lunch came with two bananas, which I don't like, and Alex doesn't like them either, so it's not just me then.  I never liked bananas to begin with, but then in college once we were making isopentyl acetate (banana oil) in lab, and Jen Russo's apparatus came apart (don't we all hate when that happens?) and spilled banana oil all over the place, and the 3rd floor of Holroyd Hall smelled like bananas for a week.  It ruined me on bananas forever.  Just like that day at Howard Johnson's when my burger and fries came with peas, and the pea juice soaked my fries, and it was so traumatic that to this day I still pick every pea out of my fried rice.  I do not like beets, bananas, peas, or any surprises in my food.

A cayman on the riverbank.  Sweet.  It would be sweeter if I hadn't been spotting wildlife in Peru a couple years ago, when it was called Costa Rica.  This is already feeling like a rerun.

Arrived at the Tambopata Eco Lodge at 4pm.

I was greeted by a coati!  I remember coatis from the last time I was in Peru, when it was called Brazil.  Ugh.  They should have greeted me by blasting Welcome to the Jungle.  Why not?

At the bar I had a welcome drink (non-alcoholic and non-coca...WTF?) and went over the itinerary with Ronald.  There's a full bar.  They run a generator from 6pm to 10pm but otherwise no electricity.  The rooms have solar-heated hot water!  The instructions from G said otherwise.  There's also a gift shop full of cool Amazon souvenirs, and you get free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime, but I didn't buy anything.  Also, there was no gift shop.  Another joke I came up with 7 months ago.

My bungalow.  125-B, the left portion.  Interesting construction.  I have a common ceiling with 125-A, and there's mesh to keep bugs out of the whole structure.  I chilled here for a bit and wrote in my journal.  Jungle Boy came on my iPad as I was writing this.  Nice.

There are plenty of other people at the lodge.  Some G groups, some non-G groups.  Some are noisy.  Drunk in the afternoon.  I should be.

I rested in my bungalow and enjoyed the sounds of the jungle.  I kept hearing something that sounded like someone was entering a 3-digit security code.  Started freaking out because I couldn't remember the code for my garage at home.  That means it's been a good vacation.  Some kind of mammal was barking/clucking outside my door.  Mr. Marbles?  Lots of life here in all kingdoms.  The booklet I got from Ronald said hookworm, malaria and leishmaniasis (a Gregory House favorite) are definitely here.  If you got the money, honey, we got your disease.  No mention of yellow fever though.  That was the only vaccine I'd considered getting, because there's no cure, but I researched and the cons outweigh the pros.  And why don't we hear "yellow fever" anymore as a term for sexual attraction to Asians?  That's a solid term.

I wrote the preceding paragraph in my journal by candlelight!

I put my filthy Inca Trail jeans back on.  I figured whatever I wore would get filthier in the jungle, and I needed my less-dirty jeans for Lima and the flight home.  Shorts were out of the question due to the bugs.  The heat wasn't too bad here.

I met Ronald at 6:30pm for a slide show about the area.  I assumed it would be something on a laptop, but it was a full projector thing.  Maybe not the best use of the generator.  I learned that butterflies go on turtles to get salt from their tears.  Kind of like the Scott Tenorman thing, which was kind of like the Mike Pilichos-B2 thing.  The tapir is the largest mammal in the reserve.  I told Ronald about the time we were ath the Philadelphia Zoo and kept calling to a tapir, and every time it would enter its enclosure and do two laps and then go back to the green room.  Ronald didn't really get this.  I noticed he wasn't as worldly as Dimas.

The slideshow ended at 7pm and then we went to dinner.  Pork, rice, soup, and some kind of hot berry pepper.  Peru DOES have decent chilis.  And I continued with the beer I got before the slideshow.  Could have used more than one.

At 7:45pm we went on a night hike.

Walking stick.  I remember being fascinated with these things when I was little.  Maybe I saw one in a book.  (I just copied and pasted the caption from my 2009 Costa Rica travelogue here.  Really, I could just use the same photos here, and you wouldn't know the difference.  Neither would I.)

Tarantula!  Less exciting than finding one in my tent on the Inca Trail.

Leaf insect.

We saw a lot of army ants here.  Had to step over them.  At the Lima hotel I watched a nature show and saw what army ants can do, and why you don't want them crawling up you.  I think those are what attacked us in Costa Rica in the infamous Pineapple Incident.

At some point Ronald shut off his flashlight so we could meditate for 3 minutes before turning around.  It didn't work, because of the noise from the bar.  My flashlight, by the way, is insufficient for such hikes.  Ronald called it a candle.  [Already bought a new one.]

Back at the lodge I had 2 more beers, hoping they would help me fall asleep.  I had the first of them outside the bar looking at my photos, and thinking I could mingle with some of the other guests, but they were mostly old people.  Took the second beer (3 of 3) to my bungalow.  Even before I went up the steps, I heard snoring from 125-A.  Two older broads were in there.  Seriously, who doesn't get that fixed with surgery nowadays?  It's not like you're opting out of elective surgery.  It's a serious thing.  You're suffering constant brain damage on account of lack of oxygen.  Maybe I just answered my own question.  I couldn't use earplugs because I'd probably miss my 5:30am alarm.  Could be a rough night.

Bed 11pm after listening to some tunes on the iPad and writing these notes.