Days 9 & 10 Amazon Voyage; Saturday & Sunday - Feb. 16 – 17, 2008 – The Final Chapter
Holly has written everything up to this point during our early afternoon down time, while I‘ve been up on Deck 3 drinking Iquitena Beer and enjoying the scenery. I decided it was about my turn to do my part and wrap this trip up. Friday night was the going away party on the top deck that included a filet mignon, and the piranha that we had caught earlier that day. The filets were brought in by boat from Iquitos and were a delightful change from the normal evening menu, even the piranha wasn’t bad. Overall the food on the ship was plentiful and good with a desert served with every meal, but the choices were limited as compared to the other type cruises we have been on. The juices made from local fruits were fantastic. However this is not the type trip you take for food and entertainment. The environment and the wildlife are the entertainment. A band was also brought in by boat from Iquitos in addition to the crew band that we have been listening to and enjoying every night before dinner. The entire “La Amatista’s” crew of 13 was introduced to the 24 passengers that they have been serving and catering to all week. They all had on naval type uniforms, and it really looked odd seeing Tui Tui in a white shirt and tie. After being together all week on both the “La Amatista” and the smaller skiffs a real bond had developed between all of the passengers.
This is the most trusting trip I have ever been on. No one locked their cabin doors the entire week, thousands of dollars of cameras, telephoto lenses and binoculars were hung outside the cabin doors to keep them acclimated to the humidity so they didn’t fog up when carried outside from the air conditioned cabins. The cabins were kept very cold to kill any mosquitoes that might get inside. The bar was run on an honor system, if you wanted a beer, bottle of wine, or mixed drink you got it and signed a sheet that was kept on the bar. The bar bill was settled at the Iquitos Airport prior to departure. Bottled water was free and the room steward always kept 8 bottles in the room plus a never ending supply was kept on the top deck. The guides kept telling us how important it was to stay hydrated. Daily laundry service was free, I wish I had known about this before we left because I would have taken less clothes. They told us that they intentionally do not advertise the free laundry because it is a service that they just started and are trying to see how it works out. The really hot water showers were a delight after sweating and sloshing around in the mud all day.
The next day was going to be long, so we retired early after saying our farewells to Micky and Jorge the skiff drivers, we would see the rest of the crew later. The “La Amatista” docked back in Iquitos at 3 a.m. Saturday and we were awakened at 3:45 am for a 4:30 departure to the Iquitos Airport to catch our 7:00 am flight back to Lima. At the airport, we said our goodbyes to our two naturalist guides, Robinson and George, and our spotter Tui Tui, who by now we all considered to be close friends, and boarded our plane for the hour and a half flight over the Andes to Lima. It was a clear day and the Andes presented a spectacular view from the airplane. Miquel stayed with us the entire trip and was now accompanying us on the airplane back to Lima. He also alternated as a spotter between the two skiffs with Tui Tui. We were met in Lima by a tour guide who gave us a city tour of Lima, which included a Cathedral, gotta see a Cathedral on every trip, while Miquel got our luggage to our rooms at the Swissotel. Having a hotel room was a nice touch even though we were only going to be in it for a few hours.
Downtown Lima was interesting. I haven’t heard of any unrest in Peru however police with AK-47’s, Armored Vehicles, and Water Cannons were clearly visible in all of the downtown squares. Our guide just said the police like to show off their equipment and wouldn’t address the issue any further. At the end of the city tour, we ate lunch at a local Peruvian Seafood Restaurant. Seafood Restaurants are only open for lunch because the Peruvians feel that the seafood would lose its freshness if kept for dinner. After lunch we had a little time for shopping and then went to our hotel rooms to rest and shower. We had to depart the hotel at 9:30 pm for the Lima airport to catch our 12:30 am Sunday morning flight back to Miami. We arrived in Miami at 6:30 am Sunday, picked up the rental car and arrived back in Satellite Beach around 10:30 a.m.
I can’t say enough good things about International Expeditions; the company that runs the trip. They looked after every detail. A once of a lifetime experience! – At least until the next one. We are now talking to International Expeditions about booking a trip for us to Antarctica next February on an Ice Breaker. The Amazon Voyage exceeded all of our expectations and it was great being able to share it with Holly’s father. The trip really did live up to the title given to it by National Geographic. “The Greatest Voyage in Natural History.”
Tom & Holly