Out in Lima

The city of Lima came in two stages for us…the first was when Jeromy had to come here by himself for 17 days to be at sea level after his severe elevation sickness in Cusco.  The second is the week we spent here together after finishing our bus ride through the southern part of the country.

Some Alone Time for Jeromy

The first week or so in Lima by himself, Jeromy was feeling pretty good.  After being together 24/7 for 11 months, he was enjoying his personal space! It didn’t hurt that there were tons of great restaurants and the weather was 75 and sunny every day either.

After a week though, the extrovert in him was getting pretty lonely.  Not only was he by himself, he couldn’t communicate with anyone he did meet because he didn’t speak enough Spanish.   It was hard enough ordering food let alone having a conversation!

He managed to keep busy with city tours, a few more Facetimes to family at home, working on some business ideas for when he returns home, and seeing the sights around Lima.

The most exciting thing he did was a 17 hour day trip to see The Nazca Lines.  These are a series of giant ancient geoglyphs in the Nazca Desert.  There are all kinds of conspiracy theories about how they got there (ancient aliens is a favorite choice) but the most likely and agreed upon theory is that they were made between 500 BC and 500 AD by the people living in the region.  They were created by removing the upper red rock layer and revealing the white rocks beneath.  Hundreds are geometric shapes, more than 70 are shapes of animals, and some are of trees and flowers.  They are huge; the largest ones up to 1200 ft long!  Due to their immense size, to see them properly you need to do so from an airplane.  So, after a long bus ride, Jeromy hopped into a small propeller airplane and was able to have an amazing view of the Nazca lines.

As part of the tour, he was picked up at his hotel in Lima at 4:00 AM, and took a 6 hour bus ride to the small beach hamlet of Paracas, Peru.  From Paracas, he took a boat ride out to the beautiful Ballestas Islands, a national reserve that is home to a wealth of marine life, including sea lions and many species of birds. The islands are home to a huge variety of avian life and hundreds of sea lions.  He really enjoyed the boat ride and fresh air after the long bus ride!

After his visit to the Ballestas Islands and flight to the Nazca Lines, he had some incredible Ceviche back in Paracas and hopped back on the bus for the 6-hour ride back to Lima!

Family Time in Lima

When we all arrived in Miraflores (the section of Lima we stayed in), Jeromy was excited to show us around his old stomping grounds!  He had scoped out all the good restaurants and parks for us to visit, and found us a cute little apartment right in the center of things to stay at.

While there are ancient Incan sites to visit in Lima, we had seen our fill over that past month in Peru and were excited to see how modern-day Peruvians spent their time.

We had a fun time riding bikes along the cliffs on the Miraflores Boardwalk.  Not only were we able to see some amazing views…

And some historic sites…

We were also able to see how the residents of Lima spend their time on a daily basis.

We loved spending an evening at the Parque de la Reserva, and seeing the amazing Magic Water Circuit fountain show.  There was a laser show that was really great and then you could spend another hour or two walking through the park seeing the 13 fountains that make up what The Guinness Book of World Records has recorded as, “The World’s Largest Water Fountain Complex in a Public Park.”  My expectations were low, but I was pleasantly surprised by the show and then all the beautiful fountains which came in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Our favorite, of course, were the ones you could play in, and our boys got soaked, which made for a pretty uncomfortable taxi ride home!

We were also able to visit some friends while we were in Lima.  We know three different couples who were serving missions at the Lima Peru LDS Temple and truly enjoyed their gracious welcome to us into their homes.  It was also inspiring to hear the stories of the modern-day pioneers who save for years and travel for days just to receive the blessings offered within the walls of the temple.

After too many months away from a temple ourselves, we were happy to attend and feel the peace it brings.  Parker was even able to join a group performing baptisms.  Although no one spoke English, he was able to make it through and have a really great experience.

Perhaps the best thing for us in Lima was all the delicious food!  While I never developed a taste for Chicha Morada, a purple corn drink found everywhere that Jeromy loved, we were able to try so many other amazing things.

Lima is known as one of the top cities in the world for its cuisine, boasting the #4 (Central) , #8 (Maido), and #33 (Astrid y Gaston) restaurants in the world.  We left the kids at home and were able to get reservations at Maido for lunch.  While we were only able to select from a few options because of the timing, the food was incredible.  We didn’t think far enough in advance to even get a lunch seating at Central, and our attempts at the wait list were unsuccessful.

We were fortunate enough to get reservations for Jeromy and I at Astrid y Gaston where we had the best meal we have probably ever eaten.  With 17 different courses (4 of them dessert!) it was definitely the fanciest.  We had things I had never heard of, or thought of eating (guinea pig), but the presentation was stunning and the food delicious.  Each course was a miniature work of art, that you almost felt guilty wasting by eating it!

Lima, was a great opportunity to have a glimpse into modern-day Peru, and big city living before we headed out for our last week in the country, traveling to a remote region of the Amazon Rainforest.

Out Exploring The Amazon

Piranhas, tarantulas, and fire ants, oh my!  We saw all of these and much more as we explored the Amazon rainforest in our final stop in the country of Peru.

After 5 weeks exploring the high altitudes, ancient ruins and beaches of Peru, some time in the oxygen rich environment of the Amazon Rainforest was just what the doctor ordered!

This picture could have been taken in many of the airports around the world but was taken in Iquitos.  We spent a lot of time in airports, reading, playing games, watching movies, and sleeping.

From Lima we flew up to the Northeastern corner of Peru to the “Peruvian capital of the Amazon,” and largest city in the world not connected by outside roads, known as Iquitos, Peru.

Looking down on a river and jungle we are looking forward to exploring!

From Iquitos, we were picked up by the driver from our lodge.  We hopped in his car and drove about 1 1/2 hours to get to the river.  We then climbed on a boat and spent another 1 1/2 hours cruising down a series of rivers to get to our lodge.

It was a beautiful boat ride and we were all excited when we were able to see where two tributaries came together to form the upper Amazon River.  

After all that time traveling on plane, truck, and then boat, we were thrilled to finally arrive at the Treehouse Lodge located where the Yarapa and Cumaceba rivers combine.

We were helped off the boat onto a wooden walkway that lead back to the main building and treehouses.  When we arrived they offered us cold washcloths and a delicious glass of camu camu juice (our favorite from then on).  It was so refreshing after our long journey through the hot and humid Amazon rainforest!

The main building was a central area for everyone to gather for meals, get drinks after excursions, and relax during our free time.  It had hammocks the boys loved to swing in,  games (we especially loved making domino chains), areas to relax and tables for our meals.  It was all-inclusive providing fun local drinks, delicious food, and a warm welcome back to our Amazonian “home” after each of our daily excursions.

Jeromy reading after a day exploring the Amazon!  We loved the Overdrive App where we could download almost any book we wanted for free!

There were only 10 treehouses on the resort and they were all incredible.  We had two, one for the boys and one for Jeromy and me.  They were beautiful, high up in the trees, and so much fun!  It was impressive that they could run the lodge while living completely off the grid. They used solar for power and reclaimed their water.  I think they had a generator too, but it was incredible.

Since there weren’t many people staying there, we had the pleasure of getting to know some new friends and comparing our travels throughout Peru.  We met people from New York, Canada, Colorado, and even a couple from a neighboring town to La Center where we are from!  I had even been in Yoga class with the wife before!  I would say it’s a small world, but after traveling across most of it, I don’t really think that anymore.

While all of that was amazing, we came to the Amazon to see the plants and animals in the Rainforest and it didn’t take long for that to happen!

We had a terrific guide who took us on all our excursions, and a boat captain.  We would go out two to three times a day exploring different facets of the forest. They did a great job of getting us up close and personal with a variety of jungle life!

The very first thing we all wanted to do was go fishing for piranhas!  For poles we just used sticks with a string and a hook, and used chicken butt for bait.  It was a blast!  Luke was our master angler catching the first, largest, and most piranhas of any of us.

Luke’s face is priceless, but those piranha teeth are no joke!  Our guide held one and we watched a small piranha chomp right through a stick multiple times.  He also had a scar from one and showed how powerful and dangerous those bites can be!

We brought the spoils of our fishing adventure back to the resort and the chef graciously cooked them up for us and we all tried a bite!  Although they are a delicacy, we left the eyeballs alone this time.  The piranhas were actually pretty good, but there wasn’t much meat on them at all.

Tyler was always our most adventurous eater!  With a little prodding and maybe a few dollars, he would eat almost anything.

Our excursion that night sent us out in search of caimans (like a smaller version of a crocodile).  It was pitch black but fortunately our guide was experienced.  We were amazed when he had the driver pull the boat up then hopped into the water and grabbed a caiman out of the water with his bare hands!  He gave each of us a chance to hold it too!

The only bad think about going out at night were all the mosquitoes and bugs.  The worst were the Night Wasps.  If we left our flashlights on for too long they would be drawn to the light and their stings are incredibly painful.  Thankfully we didn’t learn that from personal experience!

We weren’t the only people braving the Amazon.  While we were there for only a week, many people call this jungle home.  While there, we were able to go to a local village and meet some of the people there.  The school was actually having a party the day we visited and all the children were dressed up in costumes.  It was funny to see a 5-year-old child out in the Amazon dressed as Spiderman!  Some things are universal across cultures I guess!

While the people were great, our favorite part of the village tour was meeting their pet sloth!  Parker especially loved it as he always jokes that the sloth is his “spirit animal.”  We all took a turn holding it except Jeromy who, I guess, was turned off by the fact that sloths are covered in hundreds of different algae, fungi, and other bacteria.  While it is a bit off-putting to think of while holding the sloth, scientists are experimenting with the different things found in sloth fur to find cures for a variety of diseases and even cures for cancer!

Every excursion started with a boat ride, as we rode along, we would stop when we would see monkeys, birds, and other wildlife.  There were a couple of monkeys that lived near the resort that were so used to humans they would come onto the boat when we drove up.  We quickly learned that there was a “nice” one and a “naughty” one.  The naughty one jumped on Luke’s head and pulled his hair, then tried to bite him, just to show who was boss I guess!  From then on, when we would stop by to visit the monkeys we were careful to only let the “nice” monkey on the boat, although the “naughty” one did his best to sneak on as well!While riding along one day in the boat our guide quickly yelled, “Stop, go back!”  The driver reversed the boat and our guide pointed out a huge tarantula sitting on a leaf.  We were all appropriately impressed by this find and thought we would move on after our taking a picture of it.  Our guide, however, had other plans.  He stuck his hand out and carefully grabbed the tarantula then let it crawl along his arm as he explained to us some interesting facts about the species.  One important fact, was that it actually wasn’t poisonous at all, and by the way, would any of us like to hold it?  No one in the family was volunteering and I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by without giving it a try.  So I held my arm out for it to crawl onto.  What I had forgotten though, was that I had covered myself in bug spray that morning to fend off mosquitos, ants, and other creepy things.  So when the spider got to where he was about to slowly climb on my arm, it caught a whiff of my repellent and quickly jumped right at me to get away from it!  I screamed so loud I’m sure the monkeys were wondering what new species was in the forest that day!  It jumped right over my arm and landed on my foot then proceeded to crawl up my leg before the guide grabbed it back up again!

Despite my mishap with holding the tarantula, Tyler decided he wanted a turn too.  The tarantula didn’t seem to mind him quite as much.

Did you know that there are two types of dolphins that live in the Amazon river, one pink and one gray?  Well, we didn’t either until our guide took us out and showed them to us.  On this excursion we had the opportunity to jump into the water and attempt to “swim” with them.  While we were all a little nervous at first (remember these are the same waters we were fishing for piranhas in the day before), it turned out to be a great time.  Our guide assured us that there weren’t many piranhas in this area because the dolphins would eat them, so we were perfectly safe (sounds questionable?).  So that’s how we ended up jumping in and swimming in the Amazon river.  The ground beneath us was a thick mud that we would sink into that felt really crazy under our feet.

Jeromy opted not to join us for fear of the infamous “peepee fish” that is rumored to swim up your urethra and stick barbs into you and latch on.  We asked our guide about it, and he said that it was a myth as far as he knew, but Jeromy wasn’t taking any chances!  

While most our excursions were on the boat, we did spend one afternoon trekking through the jungle itself and learning about the plant and wildlife there.  It was muddy and hot and Tyler got stung by a stinging ant!  While this wasn’t our favorite excursion, due to the previous mentioned conditions, it was still educational and something you just have to do while in the jungle!

Natural bug repellent and makeup in one!

After many amazing adventures in the Amazon, it was time for us to head out of the jungle and back to civilization.  We got back on our boat, then a car ride and ended up back in Iquitos for the night before our flight left the next day.  We didn’t know much about the town itself, but needed to get dinner and decided to go down to the waterfront to find a place to eat.  There are versions of these vehicles (see below) all over the world. They are called Tuk Tuks, rickshaws, boda bodas, and more, and they are used by locals and tourists alike to get around cities for cheap.  As this was our only way to get to dinner, we flagged down a couple and hopped on.  As we sped through the streets of Iquitos, I realized that of all the adventures we had in the Amazon, this was definitely the most dangerous!

We had a pretty good dinner down by the river then received another harrowing ride back to our rooms for the night.

I will always have a special place in my heart for the time we spent in Peru.  It is an extremely varied country from the highest navigable lake in the world in the south, to the depths of the Amazon rainforest in the north, we did our best in the 6 weeks we had in the country to see it all!  While we didn’t get to see everything, we saw enough to know that we are looking forward to coming back someday to explore more of this beautiful country.

It was time to move on however, to a new adventure and enter into an entirely different ecosystem as we traveled next to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador!