South America | Peru | Peruvian Amazon | Puerto Maldonado – Killing time in the big city
Wasn´t expecting to be writing to the diary today but this is Peru and nothing quite seems to go to plan. I wentback to the office about 1pm to get the bus to the port. Waited there a couple of hours (which is normal since we were waiting on tourists arriving into town by plane – which, like the rest of Peru,are usually late). I decided to ask them when they were expecting the flight only to be told that the tourists hadn´t come via the office and had gone straight to the lodge! Not sure what they thought I was waiting for.
So that´s why I ended up for more time in town than I bargained for. At least I have money again now, after my credit cards were stolen. (long story – basically down to my own stupidity).
So what did I decide to do with my bonus time in the town that has nothing but internet cafes, restaurants, clothes shops, hairdressers and a market… Get my hair cut of course.
Seems an odd choice, but if you had seen the state the top of my head was in, you would have been the first person to offer the 3 soles (about 50p) to get it done. Got a nice trim and a cut-throat shave into the bargain. Pretty good job they did (will try and get a before-after photo on the diary) and the shave wasn´t too painful until the guy splashed what felt like pure alcohol all over my freshly-scraped face!!
So what´s happening back at the lodge? Well the management seems to be getting worse (if that was possible) and the rest of us are trying our best to ignore it (sometimes impossible though). There was a classic example of how not to deal with a tourist a couple of weeks ago. There was a meeting between Giesela, the guides and the resident naturalists (to lay down more rules). In the middle of the meeting, a tourists came to the office a bit distressed since 100 dollars had gone missing from her room. Our self confessed guru of the tourism world told her bluntly that it was not the lodge´s problem since all valuables should be handed in for safe-keeping. The tourist replied that she hadn´t been told that she could do that. Giesela replied that was the fault of the guide and that they would be dealt with. This upset the tourist since she was of the opinion that the guide had been doing a sterling job and that she was angry that they were being blamed. So our manager managed to turn the situation from one of a distressed guest to one of an angry one – and offered no sympathy whatsoever. Even if it wasn´t the lodge´s responsibility, the situation still could have been handled with a little more tact. I´ve sine heard that tourists have actually been complaining about the manager to the head office in Lima. This is obviously regrettable but it at least might bring about a bit of a regime change at the lodge.
OK, enough moaning. I´m still enjoying the jungle life. Went camping out by one of the lakes about a week ago with one of the guides and her tourists. We got to the lake just before sunset, took the canoe out and watched a blood red sun approaching it´s reflection whilst watching giant otters and a family of red howler monkeys. A very unforgettable experience. Later we took the boat out in the dark and went looking for Caiman. They are easy to spot since their eyes reflect back bright red in the torchlight. After finding caiman of all sizes, from teeny one about 30 cm long to slightly more impressive individuals about 2.5 m long. Going back to the dock, our tourist got a bit of a surprise when a small piranha jumped out of the lake and landed on his lap!
One of the Caiman ‘Sonia’ has got so used to tourists feeding the piranhas biscuits that it waits by the hide for the fish or even for the opportunity to grab a biscuit. This is not normal behaviour for these very endangered creatures and so we have suggested that the practice of feeding the fish should be stopped.
OK, need to find out what else a boy can do in this place to pass the time.