With the ongoing boat project taking nearly 40 days, we had a little time to kill. So Ashley put together a tour of the Amazon Rainforest. We had to schedule at least 2 weeks in advance but we also needed to be back to the boat as the project began to wrap up for any last minute hang-ups or decisions. Therefore, we decided on a whirlwind one week tour of the Colombian and Peruvian parts of the Amazon. We found a pet sitter to watch Ranger and left the cats to their own devises with three extra litter boxes and tons of food and water. Ranger got to go live with a nice lady who had extra cold A/C so he was more than happy to avoid the heat and humidity of the jungle. We flew to the southern-most city in Colombia which is on the border with Brazil. Our first two nights were in a small hotel in the city of Leticia. It was a nice hotel right in the middle of the city and about 5 blocks from the river and less than 2 km from the Brazilian border. We spent time exploring the city and looking at all the different ways that the river is used by the residents. We visited neighborhoods that are built right up to and then onto the river’s edge. These houses were built on stilts just above the highest of high water and had scaffolding like walkways between them and their neighbors. During the high water season, which is was at the time of our visit; many of the residents had their boats tied up to their homes. Also the kids could be seen swimming around their houses with friends and pets. In town there was a bustling market selling the many different kinds of fish and fruits harvested from the nearby river and forest. We ate at a couple different restaurants sampling the different kind of fresh water fish. It was all fantastic! The fruits were all new to us and they too were amazing. We met a street vender named Monica who lived in Leticia her entire life. She was selling two kinds of juice. One was limonade from freshly squeezed limes right there in front of you. Alexander and I ordered five of them, one for each of us and one for the homeless person nearby. After guzzling down this amazing drink Alexander and I went back for seconds. However, this time we both thought we would try the other “juice”. Now we have no clue as to what kinds of things she was cutting up, squeezing and pressing. We did see fresh limes and recognized the fresh coconut spears but that was it. There were at least 6 other fruits that she added to this drink but we had no idea what they were. But the end result was simply amazing!
At 3pm in the afternoon on our second day our tour guide picked us up at the hotel and took us on an in depth tour of the Brazilian city across the border. His name is Sergio and he is without a doubt the most amazing tour guide. He knows every nook, small bay, trail, and animal in the Amazon. He can produce many of the sounds of the birds and can spot monkeys and sloths in the trees long before we ever could. He is extremely friendly and patient and knowledgeable and he truly loves and respects the Amazon Rainforest and river. If anyone is looking for a guide to take them on a similar trip please reach out and we will forward you his info. We rarely recommend things or people but we would highly recommend Sergio. He took us to the town’s library and museum. Here he explained the many different indigenous groups of people that still make this part of the Amazon their home. While, Sergio does not belong to an indigenous group, he has great respect for their traditions and ways of life. You can hear it in his voice and feel it in the information that he shares. He also took us across the border to Brazil to a beautiful overlook of the Amazon. He then took us on a deep dive into the facts of the Amazon River, the rainforest and how it all plays such a huge role in the Earth’s weather. A Harvard professor of Environmental Studies could not have done a more thorough job. As the sun went down we drove to a park in Leticia. At this park every night between 4pm and 5pm thousands, no tens of thousands of birds return from the rainforest and sleep in this park. Sergio timed our arrival with the birds. It was simply amazing. Thousands and thousands of birds were all around and we could see thousands more coming from the other side of the river all to this one little park about the size of a quarter city block. The noise was almost deafening. Sergio of course explained to us all the intricate reasons that the birds choose this park. We spent one more night in Leticia and met Sergio the next morning. He drove us down to the water front and we met our already arranged water taxi that would take us up river and across to the Peruvian side and into the Amazon Rainforest.