Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Rain or shine

Rainy season in the Tropics means you pretty much have to be ready for whatever the wind blows in. Today was such a day.

Let´s start with a visit to the market with Ezra. How the locals must giggle at me. There I was with my pen and notebook going from stall to stall asking the names of all the fruit and veggies. Some were simple: Brocolli is Brocoli, others were like, well, a foreign language or something. There are a wealth of foreign fruits that we never see in our markets, and I felt it was my duty to try them all. So one of these, one of that... stopped to buy some cake and water to round out lunch, and off we went to the University Biodiversity Reserve.

And I found myself in a Mototaxi heading back up the road into the mountains which had taken me to Yurimaguas. Twist and turn, up and up. This little quasi-motorbike worked hard to take us where we wanted to go. Not setting any speed records, however we did manage to end up behind a large truck going very. very. slowly. So slowly in fact that it was quite plain that this large truck was going over these very steep mountains with no tread on it´s tires whatsoever. Bald. Scary.

So we basically ate transport truck exhaust for about 20 minutes, until there came a long enough stretch of foreseeable road to pass said truck. And happy I was about this because our mototaxi was keeping so close to the rear corner that we were one light brake tap away from road kill.

Ah the joys of driving in Peru.

I was expecting to go to the¨"universidad" and see the animals. I found myself tramping down a very steep set of rustic stairs, basically back into the high jungle. Sandals, short sleeved shirt, just the outfit to keep mosquitoes, spiders and mites from taking hold.

And the rains started. Things got slippery. My butt got dirty. We finally made it to the observation area just as the sky opened up and it started to POUR. So we had a few minutes to pass. Good time to get out the fruit, no? I pulled out the handy little multi-tool knife and, after washing the fruit by holding it out into the deluge, taste testing I did go.

Oh, how silly I must have looked. The faces I made. The term fruit here apparently applies to many textures and tastes. Gelatinous goop that is so tart it made my eyes water... (and folks, I like to eat limes), goop that was sweet and needed to be swished around the mouth to enjoy because to bite was to open the bitter seeds throughout. Ezra and our driver laughed and laughed... and were only too happy to finish off that which I wouldn´t.

How I love being mocked. Anyways, at the end of the experiment I was back to my pear-like fruit from last week. And one of the small tart fruits that the monkeys like to eat. Can´t say I didn´t try.

Finally the rains stopped and we toured what turned out to be a very sad facility. Small cages containing many sickly animals. There was a swine like creature that had what I would guess is a broken ankle, monkeys and marmosets thrown together, alligators in small ponds, tortoises big and small, one lonely looking speckled bear, some exotic birds staring out from the tops of their cages. And the jaguar. It radiated feral danger. The low growling, the arch of the back and the eyes watching every move. This one I was glad was in its`cage. It was stunningly beautiful, but I think I would rather run into a cougar... though I would like to state unequivocally that this is also not high on my list of things to experience.

After further walking about in the wooded area, I had a turn on a huge swing... at a guess it was at 100 ft. of garden hose attached to a wooden plank, handing from the upper reaches of one of the tall trees. Wheeeee. What a blast as the swing turned around and went up and down. I LOVE to swing. Ezra did his best to take my picture, but that in itself was quite a hoot as he tried to keep me in the frame.

After a long walk back up the now extra slippery, muddy stairs we got back in our little moto taxi for the ride downhill on that stunningly beautiful road.

What can I say. A cool breeze in the sun, winding down and around. Heaven.

Back to town, shower, dinner, you and now some english editing. If the Jaguars stay away, I`ll have sweet dreams tonight.


P.S. Earth to Amy... come in amy... are you alive, or did the polar bears get you?
You are supposed to keep in touch with your mother.

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