The entire crew from the Captain to the kitchen staff came out to be introduced and thanked by us all, and each of the guests was presented with a certificate showing that we had completed our week on the Amazon River.
Xenopus is a genus of clawed aquatic frogs native to sub-Saharan Africa. There are about twenty known species in this genus. I first made the acquaintance of Xenopus Laevus, the best known celebrity of this family, in zoology, in my first year at medical school. At that time the primary laboratory investigations that we carried out were simple dissections. It was in zoology class that I realized that I was far too squeamish to be a surgeon.
Near the confluence of the Marañon and Ucayalli Rivers we traveled by motorized skiff to a sheltered lagoon area to see giant water lilies. It was at times a rather hair-raising trip through thick water weeds that fouled up the motor of the skiff but the sight of the water lilies was worth it. At least it was for the passengers who sat and watched while the guides had to repeatedly climb out of the boat and get into the water to slash away weeds so the boat could move though the undergrowth and access the lagoon.
The pre-show dinner I enjoyed at Heirloom Vegetarian restaurant may have just changed my attitude about vegetarian cuisine. Enjoying fish and shellfish, meats, specially charcuterie, and having an aversion to the texture of many grains and beans I have tended to avoid places serving only vegetarian foods.
There are several villages in the area we visited, where the local riberenos of the Pacama tribe live on the banks of the Amazon river. The guides try to schedule visits to different villages for their various tour groups. We visited the Pacama Village on the Nahuapa River.
After alternately sweltering and scratching in the oven-like tent structures of the Kapok Camp, not to mention my pee-in-the-bottle incident (see K: Kapok Camp in the Peruvian Jungle), my tiny bathroom back on board La Turmalina, with its flush toilet and walk-in shower felt like a luxury hotel to me. Here is a more detailed description.
TEDx StanleyPark 2015 is coming up fast. It will be held at the Granville Island Stage, 1585 Johnston St., Granville Island on May 23rd from 10am – 6pm, with an after party 6 – 8pm. About 450 people are expected to attend.
As I confessed with a degree of hyperbole in my first entry A: Amazon Jungle Adventure - why?, "heat and humidity, bugs and butterflies, moths and mosquitoes rank far below the bottom of my list of favorite things, while comfortable beds, hot showers, flush toilets and temperate insect-free environments place way over the top".
Before flying to Iquitos and embarking on the Amazon River cruise, we had two evenings in Lima, capital city of Peru, to explore Peruvian fine dining cuisine. Driving in to the city from the airport, my attention was caught by a striking structure jutting our into the sea. Our driver informed us that this was a restaurant, La Rosa Nautica.
Vancouver, BC: Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe is a tough, hardboiled, private detective, who operates in the seedy underworld areas of 1940s Los Angeles. First appearing in The Big Sleep, his second appearance as protagonist was in Farewell My Lovely, the novel that is the basis for this adaptation.
La Turmalina served as our home base as we cruised along the major rivers but as well smaller modes of water transport were used so that we could enter narrow, overgrown streams of water and get to lagoons where we could observe the catfish farming practices of the river -side dwellers.
On our exploratory hike to the jungle camp (see J: Jungle Walk to the Kapok Camp) our guide cracked open a pod which contained a mass of grubs. He challenged us to eat one after telling us of the protective effect against gastrointestinal upsets.
During our week-long journey on the waters of the Peruvian Amazon on the river boat, La Turmalina, each evening our group was treated to musical entertainment by members of the boat crew. They sang and played a variety of wind, string and percussion instruments, and also played a diverse range of music. None of them were professional musicians but their joy and delight in sharing their music with us was palpable and made it special for us.
Vancouver, BC: Everything was Blasted ! The protagonists, the set... and I. Knowing what was about to explode on stage before my eyes, I fortified myself with a pre-show glass of wine but that in no way softened the impact of this play. The anger, fear, acts so violent that I closed my eyes, hit me like the ton of the rubble that fell from the ceiling. Yet Kane's characters are so appallingly grotesque that mercifully I felt emotionally distanced from the pain I was observing.
Estimates of the population of Peru that is of indigenous origin range between 30 and 45%. About 2% of this group, over 65 different ethnic groups within 16 different language families, live in the area of the Amazon basin.
Vancouver, BC: What a joy and a privilege it is to be witness to the premiére of a haunting, beautifully written and performed Canadian play. The impact of Hiro Kanagawa's sensitive adaptation of Ibsen's play was evident by the momentary electrically-charged silence of the audience before applauding, at the end of both the first and second act.
The Kapok Camp gets its name from the tall surrounding trees. Kapok, the common name for the tall Ceiba Pentandra tree, native to Mexico, Central and northern South America, is better known for the fibre that is harvested from the seed pods. Kapok fibre has been widely used instead of down as a filling in pillows or mattresses. Liquid from the boiled bark of the kapok tree has been used as a diuretic and aphrodisiac.
Vancouver, BC: I missed last year's run of PROUD at The Firehall so I was happy to be able to get to the opening night of this 2015 run of PROUD. Although, knowing it was a political comedy about Stephen Harper, and being far more of a fan of Harper than a detractor, I confess I was a bit apprehensive that this would be a carping diatribe against our Canadian PM and his policies.
The Settlement Building on Dunlevy Street in the Railtown district east of Gastown, is home to the Vancouver Urban Winery and the Belgard Kitchen, as well as Fresh Tap, Postmark Brewing and the Roaring Twenties Wine Co.
One of the advertised highlights of this Amazon River exploration was the opportunity to camp overnight in the jungle. Since I am not a hardy out-door type by nature, and camping is not my preferred travel accommodation, I was not so sure that I would feel safe in a jungle tent. During my pre-trip reading I seriously considered taking the offered alternate option of returning to overnight on the boat.
From the time we were met at the airport in Iquitos and taken to our coach for the ride to Nauta, we were in the capable and highly organized hands of the naturalist team who were leading our Amazon explorations.
I love the jewel names, amethyst, tourmaline, emerald and aquamarine, given to this group of riverboats. La Turmalina, the ship on which we traveled is part of a fleet of four, built in the ship yard in Iquitos in the style of 19th century river boats. La Amatista and La Turmalina can take 30 passengers and La Esmeralda and La Aquamarina can take 17 and 24 passengers respectively. La Turmalina, our expedition riverboat is registered in Peru and operated by English speaking Peruvian Officers and crew.
From Lima airport a direct flight on LAN Airway took us into Iquitos, Capital of the Peruvian Amazon. Iquitos, with a population of just under 500,00, is the largest city of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest and the sixth largest city in Peru. It has the dubious distinction of being the largest city in the world that is inaccessible by road, other than the 100 km road between Iquitos and Nauta, on the Amazon River. The main way to reach Iquitos is by air or by boat.
As I was traveling with someone from California we determined after much on-line searching that the most cost-effective way to get to Lima, the capital of Peru, was a LAN Peru Airways direct flight from Los Angeles Airport to Lima International Airport - Jorge Chávez. The direct flight is about 9 hours. Our flight left at at 9:15 in the evening and got us into Lima at 8:50 the next morning. Peru is 2 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time.
The Amazon river is the second only to the Nile as the longest river in the world, stretching 6296 kilometers from its origins high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, Ecuador and Columbia. The Amazon runs through Peru and Brazil to its mouth in the Atlantic Ocean near Belém in Northern Brazil. Although second in length, it carries more water than any other river including the Nile, and is responsible for 20% of the fresh water carried into the oceans, more than the next seven largest rivers combined.
Vancouver, BC: If the names did not already tell you that Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is intended to be a comedic homage to Anton Chekhov, the bust of Chehkov in Alison Green's wonderful book-lined sitting-room set would be a strong indication.
One of the things that can ruin a great vacation is traveler's diarrhea. And when going to countries where enteric diseases such as typhoid and E. Coli are even more common causes of travelers' diarrhea than salmonella and campylobacter, it makes sense to do all you can to avoid getting sick.
The most perfectly planned travel can be ruined by an unanticipated illness or injury. Obsessive as I am I found it absolutely essential to check out all possible health precautions so I would not "check out" on my jungle trip.