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Amazonas

I was surprised when I first suggested to Luci that we spend a few days in the jungle that I didn’t face any resistance…just a “great honey”.  I don’t quite think she realized what we were in for.  It was not until the date of departure neared, that I informed her that we needed to get a “few” shots did her level of concern begin to escalate.   The shots weren’t that bad, what bothered me was the extensive detail that the nurse went into describing the different afflictions that the serums would prevent.

We caught a Taca flight from Cuzco, Peru to Puerto Maldonado, Peru.  I kept looking down at the bright green carpet of the canopy.  We flew for an hour straight of continuing green.  Yet we were only on the fringe of the jungle.  Out of the vast sea of vegetation appeared a short landing strip.

Peru 2008 481 - CopyAirport isn’t quite LAX… we gathered our gear and headed out into the sea of tour company vans.  We found our van in short order.  We decided on Lake Sandoval Lodge based on strong reviews on Tripadvisor and it is off the beaten path aways.  Puerto Maldonado is truly a frontier town.  A number of sawmills, dusty streets and many shops for supplying the jungle-ites.

Van took us to the river port on the Rio de Madre de Dios a tributary of the Amazon.   There were 20 some people in our group.   We brought 5 different flavors of insect repellent.

Amazon river port

our group

There were three couples in our group:  an older couple from Britain, and a young couple that had won the trip on Yahoo. (I guess someone does win those contests).  Javier is in the dark jacket, and Paul in the light blue in front.

luci and pau

We boarded or canoe for the 1 hour trip upriver.  Water is chocolate mocha brown.   We arrive at the dock for our hike into the lodge.  We are introduced to our guides: Paul and Javier.  Both have a pretty good command of English.—As we were prattling one afternoon Javier says,” Eutrophication…you know Eutrophication?”  Luci and I had a good chuckle.  We were impressed with his knowledge of biologic terms.

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During the day we would go on the dugout canoes and criss cross the oxbow lake looking for monkeys, giant river otters, and other critters, including a boa below:

In the evenings we took a couple of night hikes.  Luci was a trooper.  Night is a great time to see all of the creepy crawlies. Including scorpions, spiders and beetles.

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The noises at night were awesome!  The Jungle is extremely LOUD at night.  During one of our night hikes, I asked our guide how long we would last in the deep without light, he stopped, thought to himself for a few seconds and said, “about two hours.”  I heard him chuckle a little to himself as he continued on up the path…

Our sleeping qtrs were fine.  Each bed had netting:

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The sunset in the Jungle was so impressive!

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The Amazonas is not to be missed!  We highly recommend visiting the Sandoval Lake Lodge!

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mike hammock

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1000Fights.com featured on travel site!

1000fights recent visits to Peru, Turkey and Southern France were highlighted recently on the Willgoto travel site.

Willgoto is a multilingual world travel directory and travel guide.  The travel directory provides all tourism and travel information for travellers to any country in the world. Tourist information, hotels, vacation rentals, b&b, airlines, car rentals, tour operators, travel agencies, maps, pictures, weather and all other useful links are sorted by language and destination.

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The Oak Room

Oak Room (at the Plaza Hotel) on Urbanspoon

The food highlight of our NYC weekend!!  Brace yourself for the price.  It is a true four star establishment in every sense of the word.  Dinner is served in American dim sum manner: they have a cart that comes around, you pick out the dishes you would like.  For the main course, I went with the New York steak.  Luci had the lobster pot pie.   Waiter makes your salad at your table: Choice of greens, veggies and other interesting toppings.  For dessert I had one of the strangest banana splits.  Pics will be forthcoming.  It looked like a great big wafer…very good!  Beautiful decor.  Waitstaff were knowledgeable and competent.

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10 Downing Street

10 Downing on Urbanspoon

We took the Context travel immigrant food tour.  Our guide was an executive chef and is really keyed in on the food scene in NYC.  At the end of the tour I posed the question.   If you had a day to live and were able to goto one restaurant in NYC, which would it be?   She thought hard and long and said 10 Downing.  We took her recommendation for dinner.  It did not disappoint.  I had the balsamic beef, which was extremely tender and very flavorful.  The highlight for me was their house lemonade!  I am a softy for the really sour.  Try it!  Luci had the flounder and it was ok.

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My First Bath (Turkish)

 

An experience that is difficult to fully describe. We chose the Cagaloglu Hamami or Turkish bath. It is medieval design. The Cagaloglu Hamami is probably the world’s most famous Turkish Bath. It’s featured in the 1000 places to go before you die book, and is reputed to have been visited by King Edward VII, Florence Nightingale, Tony Curtis and Cameron Diaz and now my wife Luci. You walk in and are greeted by two “bath guys” they give you the run down on the different bath options.  We chose the bath and massage. We put down our green backs, picked out our soap and soapmit.  Luci was whisked away to the women side. From what she described, I should of followed her.

Ok, they give you the key to your “compartment” and in you go.   Directions from the aging gentleman were simple. “take off clothes, put on towel”.  No welcome to the bath, no: you may be concerned about modesty etc… now the mens waiting room is right in front of the main entry way.  So I walk out and some French girls are pointing an laughing at me. I think they thought something was funny with my towel…I don’t know.

You are escorted into the back,  which opens into a huge domed room  At center is a huge marble slab.  It is about a 1000 degrees.  10 bathers total.  One of the employees (blue towel) says: go to hot room.  I am thinking, this is fairly hot.  I head to back. Hot room was an understatement.  I sit down careful to keep knees together.  How do you girls do it?  I cook for 10 minute,  then my “man” comes. “I am Ali” I said, yes you are. “come”. Ali is light on words and heavy on pounds. Ali looks to be expecting twins, and has the hair from planet apes. He directs me to lay flat on the center stone. I do. Enter Turkish massage.  A lot of chopping, and pulling muscle from bone, which is not as pleasant as it sounds. Ali is ingueiness in using elbows, and knees to knead soft tissue. At one point, knee is used to “soften buttocks area”. This was the most unpleasant portion of the adventure as marble was not very forgiving of my reverse side (enough said).

Once my entire body has been stretched, pulled and properly kneaded. Ali explained, “now wash”. I was directed to one of the side marble benches. being completely washed by another man is not something that i do on a regular basis. Ali puts on a sandpaper glove and begins to methodically remove 1 inch of my skin. He keeps showing me the glove. It is completely covered in skin removed. I nodded like this was great. Then he took his finger nails and removed the top layer of my scalp for 10 mins.

Enter more soap, more scrubbing.  At last I look like a drowned cat.  Ali says: “done”. I can’t move. I finally find my way back to my compartment and change.  I take a pic with Ali. I tried to wish him luck with the twins…it didn’t translate well.

It was a once in a lifetime experience (I hope!)

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