Monday, February 25, 2013

Lima, Perú-Day IX.

2-11-13 LIMA, PERÚ: We woke up early, still on jungle time, and after breakfast, went to the Miraflores district of Lima, on the Pacific coast. It’s an upscale area with deluxe hotels and lots of casinos. We walked from Parque Kennedy to the Lacomar mall through foggy breeze off the ocean. It was a breath of cool, fresh air on a hot day.

Judy shopped. The view was of the fog flowing upwards over conglomerate cliffs from the gravelly beach. The surf was just visible through the fog. We lunched at the Miraflores Park Hotel next to the shopping. There was a big funeral being covered by several TV stations nearby.

Our driver, Victor, picked us up at the hotel and took up to the Indian and Incan markets for more shopping and then back to the airport hotel where we hung out until our red-eye to EWR.

Parque Kennedy church.

Complete with stained glass windows.

Seaside park is patrolled on Segways.

Under the park is the huge Lacomar shopping mall.

The view over the side. Conglomerate cliffs, beach and surf in the fog.

Lunch at the Park Hotel.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Amazon-Day VIII.

2-24-13 SHORT HILLS: We're back in NJ, the boys are back in Los Gatos, and I can add pix to the last post.

2-21-13 VERMONT: It’s snowing again, two-three inches predicted. We’re one month away from the Vernal Equinox. Here’s Day VIII of the Amazon adventure, but no pix until we’re back in the land of high speed Wi-Fi.

2-10-13 RÍO UCAYALI: We had a early start to the day skiffing up the río at the village of Puerto Miguel. There were a lot of birds close to the village, cowbirds, woodcreeper, parrots and parakeets, night hawks, orioles, and the rest of the usual suspects. We came to a research station at least partly run by Cornell that rehabs captive monkeys. That means monkeys that were domesticated, but are being re-introduced to the wild. The monkeys live on an island in the river across from the institute. Monkeys don’t like to swim so they stay on the island.

As we approached the downstream end of the island, monkeys appeared out of the woods, spider, night, howler, capuchin, squirrel, many of the ones we have been struggling all week to see and occasionally photo. There they were, all of them, posing for us. Perhaps the bananas tossed to them by the naturalists had something to do with their interest in us. I don’t see any monkeys leaving that island voluntarily.

Long-billed Woodcreeper.

spider monkey.

Capuchin monkeys.

Capuchin monkey, bananas.

Howler monkey.

After breakfast on the boat, we went back to the village for shopping. Judy got more trinkets. Back on the boat it was check out, settle the bar bills, tip the staff, etc. we motored on to Nauta, our starting point and destination, once more passing through the confluence of the Marañón and Ucayali rivers to form the Amazon river.

Puerto Miguel shopping mall.

Ultimately we got on the bus to Iquitos, with all the luggage, for the two-hour trip on the one paved road with the same traffic we had last Sunday. We stopped at a facility that takes care of manatees. The manatees had been kept as pets by local folks, and most of them were surrendered to the rehab center voluntarily. The center tries to return the manatees to the wild after rehab, and places them on the Rio Dorado.

Manatees surface at feeding time.

Iquitos-Nauta road with vehicle of choice.

Our LAN flight to Lima has, so far, been uneventful, even if late. We re-checked in to the airport Ramada del Sol Hotel in time for dinner.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Amazon Day VII.

2-20-13 VERMONT: We’ve been here since Sunday, the boys and I skied Monday and Tuesday and opted out today. I get home from skiing and lay down, they go out and sled or snowshoe in the pasture. We got a new five inches last night—the fresh stuff always looks so clean.

And now, back to the Amazon...

2-9-13 RÍO UCAYALI, PERÚ: Last night we started down river back to Nauta but stopped this morning for two skiff rides on the Río Zapote. A black hawk raided the nest of a pair of hoatzins, eating the eggs or chicks. It was a sober reminder that the jungle is a jungle, the screaming set my nerves on edge.

After breakfast on the boat we were back for a visit to the village and market. We gave them school supplies and a soccer ball. In the rainy season, now, their soccer field is under water, but the goals are still visible. After the visit, we went further up the river for more birds.

Gray dolphins.*

Pink dolphin.*

Chestnut-eared aracari.

White water.

Kids grow up in the water.

Dugout canoe.*

Dugout canoe coming up. The outside is shaped with machetes and planes. The inside is burnt out.

Back yard, the ducks seem comfortable.

The midday diversion was a lesson in making Pisco Sours. It’s simple—pisco, a grape brandy,-3 oz., lime juice-1oz, sugar solution-1oz, egg white-spoonful, shake with ice, pour, top with dash of bitters. Nice.

Pisco Sour lesson.

The afternoon skiff ride was on Supay Caño, we went from the river through jungle with heavy overhead canopy and out into an open lake dotted with clumps of palm trees that is probably a meadow in the dry season. While we were admiring the giant lily pads and birds, the sky turned black behind us and an intense T-storm moved in behind us and then over took us. We were back in the ponchos and raced back to the boat through sinuous passages of the forest. We passed a native canoe full of ladies with kids all laughing, in their usual clothes, no rain gear, and soaked. The locals seem impervious to frequent soaking. The rain continued for hours—it is the rain forest.

Tui parakeets?

Hummingbird. There are about 100 species of hummers and related species in Perú.

More lily pads in another meadow/lake.

We're gonna get wet.

Dinner was a BBQ with musical performance by some of the crew afterwards, including dancing in native dress.


Here's a hoatzin on a different occasion, a Suessian bird. It's pronounced 'watson'.*

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Amazon-Day VI.

2-8-13 RÍO UCAYALI, PERÚ: This morning we did an ox-bow lake at Atun Posa in the skiffs. We saw two kinds of monkeys, squirrel and monk saki, more birds, some dolphins. We breakfasted in the skiffs, served by the naturalists, and before we went back on the boat, we visited another village, this one is on pilings and the main street is awash. Everyone has a net cage in their front yard where they keep live fish that have been caught for a later dinner.

Ox-bow lake.

Another squirrel monkey.

Monk Saki monkeys have lush fur, note the tail.


Main Street.


Origami boot.

The afternoon skiff ride was into the Rio Pacaya, in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. The river winds back and forth with many esses to negotiate. A brief rainstorm had all of us in ponchos from the crew. The Pacaya is black water, with many lakes and ox-bows, some so covered with vegetation they look like pastures with boats motoring through. On the way in we saw more squirrel monkeys, toucans, and macaws. We ended up at one huge lake where some of us swam. There were dolphins around, but we were assured that there were no piranhas or electric eels—everyone survived. On the way back to the boat we saw a tree full of howler monkeys.

Meadow/lake with hyacinths.

Chestnut-eared aracari*

Pink Dolphins?

Howler monkeys are red here, but black in Central America.*

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Amazon- Day V.

2-17-13 SHORT HILLS: The boys from Los Gatos came in last night and we’re off to VT. Here’s another day in the Amazon…

2-7-13 RÍO UCAYALI, PERÚ: The morning skiff ride, at Yanallpa, started with a visit to a blue-and-yellow macaw colony. They nest on top of dead palms. Later we saw red-and-green macaws in flight. They are almost always seen in pairs, mating pairs. We saw new kinds of monkeys, noisy night monkeys are tiny, nocturnal, live in a hollow tree and are really cute. Later there were saddleback tamarinds, and then a glimpse of a tayra, a tree weasel. That excursion had lots more birds, another iguana and another tree sloth. Then back to the boat for a late breakfast.

Some of the pix below are those of other members of the group. We pooled a bunch of our best shots and Walter, the naturalist photog, assembled them, with some of his, for all of us, but none were labeled so I can't give proper credit, but I will add an [*] to the description of pix that are not mine.

Macaws in the morning.

These cuties are 'Noisy Night Monkeys' who live in this hollow tree. We woke them up.*

Parrots and parakeets, like macaws, are almost always seen in pairs.*

Saddleback tamarind, another kind of monkey.*

Local guys doing the morning commute.*

Smallish village, they say the thatched roofs are cooler than the metal ones.

Masked crimson tanager.

During midday, as we motored up the Ucayali, the cabin boys demonstrated Origami towel arranging. Every morning our new towels are left on the beds as swans, candles, gingerbread men, boots—very clever. After lunch there was a talk on medicine in the jungle provided by shamans, still primitive. Modern clinics are the last resort.

The afternoon skiff ride on the Río El Dorado took us up the river, through the woods to a huge pasture, that is really a lake. The bird list included horned screamers, parrots, roadside hawk, cormorants, and sand-colored nighthawks. The pasture/lake had those giant lily pads. We also saw more dolphins, another tree sloth. The outing ended after sunset so we had a taste of the night shift with a caiman, a nocturnal, fresh-water alligator, and more fishing bats.

Horned Screamer, goose sized birds, can you see the white 'horn' on top of the head?

We boated through this forest.

Giant lily pads are up to four feet across.

Tree sloth checking us out.

Four cormorants on afternoon break.

The night shift gets under way.