Tuesday, 10 February 2009

To Tarapoto, La Selva

Getting to Tarapoto was somewhat exhausting. I took a bus to Chiclayo, some 3 hours and then a 6 hour wait for the next bus, 13 hours semi-cama. The whole thing cost about 20 pounds and included a meal on the second bus.

I was able to make good use of my time in Chiclayo. The town itself is unremarkable and quite busy. After asking around I found a car to take me to a museum of Senor de Sipan a pre Inca Lord. This was an incredible opportunity as the museum is extensive and the displays on par with those of Tuten Karman with tombs and many artifacts in gold, silver and copper. I paid 5 pounds for a guide and had an individual tour that was about 1 ½ hours.

The bus left late and after a airline style supper there was a movie, 'Taken' with Liam Neeson. This turned out to be super violent and deeply unsuitable considering the children on the bus. I had hoped to settle into a slumber but this woke me up and by the time it ended we were climbing high into the mountains. I had wondered why the bus attendant had been giving out plastic bags but understood as the bus lurched from side to side as it climbed the winding and roughly surfaced road. From time to time I could see the outline of the mountain and had a sense of the edge but couldn't see it. Needless to say sleep escaped me for some hours. Arriving at Tarapoto I negotiated a motor taxi to my hotel, Rio Shilcayo.

This is a semi-luxurious hotel and has a pool, reasonable facilities including air conditioned rooms and hot water. Now it feels like a holiday. I haven't done too much so far but found a path alongside the river and have visited a local centre with animals, plants and butterflies. On the walk there I must have seen 6 different types of butterfly and the vegetation is lush and green. I also came across Takiwasi, a centre for drug addiction treatment. This is probably a unique retreat specialising in the use of traditional medicines like Una de gato which means finger nails of cats but is actually bark and a natural anti-inflamatory; they also use more conventional therapies but you need basic Spanish and 9 months, of which the first 3 are without contact to the outside world.

Last evening I met up with Enoe and Marcelino the parents in law of Juan Miguel. They have a private primary school and we watched some of the girls practising volley ball and then went for a meal.

This morning the plan was to go walking with Marcelino but it is raining so if it stops this afternoon we will probably visit Lamas, one of the oldest towns in the Peruvian jungle It is populated by descendants of the fierce Chanca Indians, who maintain their traditional ancestral customs and there is a museum.

I have several days here and hope to visit most of the sights in the area and maybe take a couple of days in an isolated lodge higher in the hills at Pumarinri,

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