UPDATE#26 07/27 thru 07/31   

Howdy Everybody,

The adventures of 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 through 07/26/09 have been published on the website.  We continue with the latest edition, which is the 7th in the Peru Series.

 UPDATE 2009 #26  07/27/09 thru 07/31/09

At last update, we were aboard the EDUARDO III awaiting the departure to travel down the Amazonas rivers from Yurimaguas to Iquitos, Peru.



     At 6:45am, the EDUARDO III started moving.  Judy and I were somewhat surprised, as we had not expected this early departure.  Of course, I had to be on deck as soon as possible.  Now I was even more surprised as it appeared that we were headed in the wrong direction and going upstream.   I resigned myself to thinking that, “oh well, they must know what they are doing”. 



     Along the banks of Yurimaguas, hundreds of riverboats of varying types and sizes lined the shore.


     We motored past this banana raft floating in the opposite direction.


     The GILMER I had pulled away from the same bank and was headed in the same direction.  After about an hour, both cargo boats drove their bows into the mud banks, side by side.  It was now obvious that we would be taking on more loads from this location.  On the bow of the GILMER I, an enterprising fellow was selling fresh fish to the locals.


     There were vendors selling small goods and food.  At one of them, Judy and I had a bowl of soup and a couple of empanadas (meat pies).

     Our Captain, Rafael, was in his full dress uniform.  It was the first time we’d seem him in full regalia.  He must have wanted the added respect and recognition due his command authority when dealing with port officials.  As soon as we left port, he changed back to his casual clothes and we never again saw him in his official Captain’s attire.


     At the river landing, more cargo was loaded and lots more people got on board.  We hadn’t dared to stray far from the boat because we couldn’t get any information about when we would continue.  At 10:45am, the EDUARDO III eased back into the river and headed back downstream.

     Several large rivers eventually feed the mighty Amazon River.  We begin our travel on the tributary called the Rio Huallaga.  “Rio” means “river” in Spanish.


     The small dining room on the upper deck was being setup for our dinner.  Meal service is only for the upper deck passengers.  Passengers on the lower deck must take their own bowl to the feed line.


     Our river journey started in Yurimaguas on the Rio Huallaga.  The source of the Huallaga River originates on the slopes of the Andes in central Peru.  Downstream and ahead of us, the Huallaga joins to become the Marañón River, later joining and becoming the Ucayali River.  Those joint river waters and forces combine to form the mighty Amazon River.  The EDUARDO III will navigate all these waters before reaching Iquitos.


     The once empty upper deck must now be shared with lots of other travelers.  We were the only two from the United States.  Most were Peruanos and there were only a couple of Europeans and an Argentine woman.


     Fred Reed and Judy Law aboard the EDUARDO III somewhere on the Rio Huallaga in Amazonas, Peru.


     Red sky at night, Sailor’s delight…


     When dinner was served, the meal consisted of chunks of stewed chicken accompanied by some vegetables and by rice drizzled with a nice, red pepper sauce.  It was quite tasty.

     During the night darkness, the boat edged up to the banks and additional cargo and passengers were loaded at several towns.  The waters were smooth, the air was pleasant, and the boat’s engines were relatively quiet.  Wherever florescent lights lighted the decks, there was a swarming of insects.  Fortunately, our section was not in the direct light and they did not overly bother us.  We relaxed in the hammocks until midnight before retiring to our room.



     On July 28th of each year, the people of Peru celebrate “Fiestas Patrias”.  The important holiday commemorates the day that Peru gained its independence. It honors the day that General José de San Martín, known as Peru's liberator, proclaimed Peru's independence.  I went around wishing to each Peruvian, “Feliz Fiestas Patrias”.  Their responses always included a greeting and a warm smile that clearly indicated their delight in my rememberance.  Later in the morning, one woman gave me the gift of a Peruvian Flag pin that I proudly wore for the day.  Today, we had made a lot of friends and gained their respect.

     Partially shrouded in fog, the sunrise was a beautiful sight.  


     A few more “whistle stops” were made along the route.  Each time, the townspeople would gather at the banks.  Notice how they dug out the riverbank mud in stair step fashion to accommodate the cargo boats.


     A speedy launch was used to tender small pieces of cargo and a few passengers to shore locations while the big boat continued its journey. 


     Huge stalks of bananas, bags of salt for preserving fish, and numerous coups for the hens occupied the foredeck.


     A hearty breakfast was served to the passengers of the upper deck.  Because of the small size of the dining area, they needed two separate seatings.


     Another one of the short stops in some small, riverside village...


     Low power engines, similar to a lawn mowers, power the long shafts of these boats.  Easily tilted, they can navigate in very shallow water.


     Frequent sightings of banana rafts evoke thoughts of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.


     On the lower passenger deck, the hammocks were strung closely together.  Quite crowded, they stowed all their belongings under their hammocks.  There were toilet facilities on this level but, unlike the upper level, there were no showers or dining area.  This boat carries 250 passengers, most in hammocks on the larger, lower level.


     On some occasions, the boat would hug the shoreline seeking the deeper water.


     Numerous, seemingly primitive, small boats awaited at some of the stopping points.


     The weather was perfect for enjoying the river scenery.


     Heading in the opposite direction, a sister ship passed, presumably destined for Yurimaguas.  Between Yurimaguas and Iquitos, there are no roads.  All traffic must move via air travel or water vessels.

     The lunch was a chicken dish, similar to that served last night, with mushrooms, salad, and a local favorite beverage called “chicha morada”.  The purple drink is made from fermented corn and is very sweet.  I think it might be one of those “acquired tastes”.


     Dinner was Pot Roast of Beef, rice, and fried plantains.  We were fortunate to be in the first seating for every meal.

     After dinner, I fell sound asleep in the hammock for almost 3 hours.  The river has definite shallow areas.  About 9:15pm, a sharp jolt definitively indicated that the boat gone hard aground.  Fortunately, the crew maneuvered the boat and it was freed quite easily.  Some of the passengers were panicky and quite nervous.  Some of them donned their life jackets quickly, probably presuming the worst. 

     About 11pm, the boat landed at the town of Nauta.  From here, the road connects to Iquitos.  Many passengers disembarked here and continued by land, effectively shortening their total trip time by about 8 hours.   We were enjoying the adventure of river cruising and were happy to stay aboard the boat.  What’s more, we were navigating the famous Amazon River.



     As the river widens, mud and silt from the joining rivers settles out to create very shallow areas.  There was no depth sounding equipment on board to guide them.  To determine the areas of sufficient water, they sent out the skiff to make soundings using a long pole with depth markings.  Much like it was done over a hundred years ago on the Great Western Rivers of the US, the scouting pathfinders reported the “go or no-go” results.


     The sunrise over the Amazon River was gorgeous.


     Captain Rafael gave us the high-five.  He constantly listened to this old transistor radio, the likes of which I haven’t seen in decades.  I don’t know what he was listening to, but he obviously like it.  Do you think it possible that Peru has the equivalent of Rush Limbaugh?


     We had the pleasure to meet and chat with Pascal Gmuer.  The young Swiss fellow was extremely well educated, an avid adventurer, and his English language skill were phenomenal.  It was a real joy to share the river trip along with him.  He plans to go deeper into the Amazon Jungle and Rainforest from Iquitos.


     Most of these folks were Peruanos traveling to Iquitos from the Pacific coast city of Trujillo.  We were well accepted and became friends during our journey.  Some were headed to a jungle lodge and asked if we would like to join them.  Although it might have been fun, we gently declined their graceful offer due to time considerations.


     We gathered for a group photo as a reminder of newfound friends.


     With the port of Iquitos in sight, we knew that our adventurous river trip was nearing the boat’s destination.


     Scores of riverboats lined the banks awaiting their next load.  Some would head for Yurimaguas, some toward Pucallpa along the Ucayali River, while others would reach destinations further down the Amazon River toward Columbia and Brazil.


     A MotoTaxi took us from the port area to the central district of Iquitos.  Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest and home to a population of almost 400,000 Amazonians. The Department Capital is the most populous city in the world that cannot be reached by road.

     The Matriz Cathedral was beautifully designed and, during a period of thirteen years from 1911 to 1924, it was built adjacent to the central Plaza de Armas.


     An obelisk monument memorializes those from Iquitos who defended Peru in the War of the Pacific in 1879.


     An interesting find in Iquitos was the Yellow Rose of Texas Restaurant and Bar.  Dressed in UT colors, the wait staff has adopted the friendly ways of Texans. Although we only had coffee this morning, the tempting menu card made us promise to return.


     Iquitos was thriving in the era of the rubber boom from about 1880 to 1912.  The Iquitos region was the world's foremost source of raw rubber and vast fortunes were amassed.

Numerous attractive buildings, constructed during those wealthy times, were adorned with elaborate ceramic tiles imported from Italy and Portugal.


     With the recommendation from some local passengers on the boat, we chose the Hotel La Casona for accommodations.   Well situated near the center on Avenida Fitzgarrald, it was an ideal and economical (less than $20/night) option for our visit.  Our room was large, quiet, clean, and comfortable.  What more could we want? 


     It had a separate sitting area, however, we were not planning on spending much time in the room other than to shower and sleep.


     A courtyard area was available for guest cooking and eating.  Especially in the morning, it was a convenient alternative for coffee and a light breakfast.


      Another example of those famous, decoratively tiled buildings from the Rubber Era…


     We walked through some of the famous Belen market area.  Being a holiday and an off-market day, many of the vendors were closed.  This woman was grilling whole fish over a charcoal-fired barrel.


     The central Plaza de Armas is viewed as a hub of the city’s social life.  Tonight, large numbers of the local populace were gathered to continue the celebration of Fiestas Patrias.


     Nicely lit up, many of the shops and buildings around the Plaza de Armas are very attractive.



     Wanting to get an early start, we had our coffee and a few packaged donuts at the hotel.  After dropping off laundry, we took a MotoCarro (that’s what they call the MotoTaxis here) to Puerto Nanay.  From this port, we would board a “launcha colectivo”, (collective boat).


     The boat boys directed us to the appropriate launch.


     This launcha would take us on the tributary river, Rio Nanay, to a village called Padre Cocha.


     Out on the Rio Nanay, we got to see the amphibious plane that takes the wealthier folks out to the expensive, resort lodges of the Amazon.


     It almost looks like a race between the kids and a man to see who will reach their favorite net-fishing area first.


     This old cargo boat has had a rough life.  Looking at the battered steel sides, we could only imagine how much cargo had been shipped in her hold.


     Similar to the boat we were on, this launcha colectivo was being powered by one of those long-shafted, air-cooled mower motors.  The one we were on had an almost new Honda motor with the extended prop shaft.


     The village awaited just beyond the thatched roof dock…


     We had about a 20-minute walk to the reserve.  It was interesting walking through the remote little village.

Using similar materials, designs, and techniques, small boats have been handcrafted by the locals for generations.


     We were here to visit the Amazon Animal Orphanage and Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm.  The unique preserve is the only butterfly farm in Peru.


     Over 40 species of the most colorful “Mariposas” (Butterflies) existing in the Amazon Rainforest are said to thrive here at the Pilpintuwasi Reserve.


     I think this one is called, “Chavo”; He is a Red-Faced, Bald Uakari Monkey…


     The butterflies were everywhere…


     This is an owl butterfly. In a later picture, you will see it with wings spread…


     Blue Morph butterfly with wings folded…


     Blue Morph butterfly with wings spreading…


     For a butterfly, this piece of fruit is fine dining…


     Howler monkey…


     Howler monkey…


     Ribbit, Ribbit….,


     Being lone travelers, we were treated to a special tour of the facility by Gudrun Sperrer.  Born in Austria, she has lived in the Amazon Rainforest since 1982.  Gudrun is the founder, caretaker, animal handler, and a well-known “lepidopterologist”(butterfly scientist).  For nearly an hour, she introduced us to the world of butterflies and informed us about their lifecycles.  She took us around to meet many of the jungle animals housed at the reserve.


     Knowing just how to gently hold this living specimen, she gave an up-close and personal look at the fascinating “tattered winged Búho” or “Owl butterfly”. The “búho” (owl), got its name from the large, dark spots on its shapely wings that resemble an owl’s eyes. They are one of the few aggressive species. With barbed feet, they rip at each other’s wings to defend their pieces of fruit, leaving most with torn wings.   Isn’t it amazing how nature has given these creatures some amazing defensive mechanisms and colorations?


     We learned that each species needs a specific plant leaf to propagate.  Gudrun explained some of the many problems in finding the necessary host plants for each caterpillar and then protecting it from predators, including her own monkeys.

     In the chrysalis house, various living specimens hang from their host leaves.


     After mating, the female butterfly lays her eggs on specific “host” plants." After the larva hatch from their eggs, they voraciously eat the plant leaves. After only a few days, a caterpillar hatches and they continue eating and growing rapidly.  The caterpillars of different species need between 2 and 10 weeks to reach their mature size. During that phase, the caterpillar will sheds its outer skin 4 to 6 times.


     Finding a secure place, the caterpillar hangs itself with a silk-like pad, envelops its body in a hard case shell, and turns into a ‘pupa’ or ‘chrysalis’. From within its pupa shell, it undergoes complete metamorphosis and is transformed into a completely different creature, the beautiful butterfly. Dependant on species, this process may takes from one week to several months.

     When the fully developed butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, it is able to fly and the reproductive process begins again.  The normal life span of an emerged butterfly is usually less than two weeks.


     Cappuccino monkey…  Gudrun affectionately called this one, “the bitch” because she gets into so much trouble.  If she gets into the chrysalis house, she can destroy months of painstaking work in minutes.  This monkey is also infamous for picking peoples pockets.


     A tapir…


     Pedro Bello, the magnificent Jaguar…


     Rosa, the anteater…


     Howler monkey…   Actually, I think he looks a lot like one of my friend’s second cousin…


     I think this is a type of spider monkey…


     A South American “caiman”…


     A “bald Uakari”…


     A  “Scarlet Macaw” and a “Blue-and-Yellow Macaw”


     This mischievous Howler monkey loves to untie shoelaces.  As soon as you retied them, he’d pull them open again…


     After a delightful experience, I was very impressed with what Gudrun has done, and is doing, at the preserve.  I cheerfully added a monetary donation to help her work.

     Another 20-minute walk brought us back to the Padre Cocha dock on the Rio Nanay.


     In the Amazon region, the ways of boating and fishing become a basic part of life at a young age.


     Unique to Iquitos, unusually styled buses, like this open-window model sporting wooden frame posts, regularly zip along the urban routes.


     La Casa de Fierro  (The Iron House) was reportedly designed and built by Frenchman, Gustav Eiffel, of The Eiffel Tower fame.  Originally built in France, the building was disassembled and shipped via the Amazon River to Iquitos following the Paris Exhibition of 1898.


     As a reminder, travelers to South and Central America need to learn and practice the skills of bargaining.  It is a common occurrence for almost every vendor and taxi driver to quote high prices.  It is a way of life.  It is expected that you will bargain for a better price.  Too many travelers just accept what is first said, like they would at home.  Although the seller will gladly take it or more, what they won’t have is any respect for you.  To them, you are considered a “fool” and ignorant.  What they feel is that they have just taken you and your money.  Perhaps the dollar amount is relatively insignificant, but what value have you lost when you lose their respect.  OK, off my soapbox…

     With another full day planned in Iquitos, we made arrangements to fly back to Tarapoto at 11:35am Saturday morning on LC Busre Airlines.  We had paid cash and were told to come back later to pick up the paper tickets.  When we did return, they informed us that the flight had been cancelled for tomorrow and that we could either fly another day or pay a bit more for a later flight on Star Peru Airlines scheduled for 6:35pm Saturday evening.  Gaby helped us rush over to the other airline office just before they closed.  We had to pay again, this time using a credit card.  Gaby said that they would refund our cash tomorrow because the bank was closed now and they had already deposited it.  We reluctantly understood and agreed to return tomorrow.

     Normally, we don’t fly from city to city.  We prefer to use land travel because we enjoy more of the countryside and the people.  With Iquitos so far away by boat only, we felt justified saving almost another week of travel time by flying.

     For dinner, I decided to get some ingredients and cook our own dinner in the “cocina”(kitchen) of the hotel.  Italian food was selected for our personal menu.  I don’t think we could have had a more enjoyable or intimate dinner anywhere.


     The morning started with coffee at the hotel.  Having perused the great menu before, we walked over to “The Yellow Rose of Texas” restaurant for breakfast.  The owner, Gerald Mayeaux, moved here after retiring from a petroleum-engineering career in Houston and married a Peruvian gal.  As a UTA baseball player and graduate of the University of Texas – Austin, he kept his loyalty strong.  With a UT theme, he opened the Yellow Rose of Texas.


     Although the prices were a bit higher than we usually spend, the food was absolutely fabulous and we were glad we chose the place.  Judy had the giant, Texas-sized French Toast.  I chose their delicious offering of Plato de Frutas (fruit plate).


     We bargained with a MotoCarro driver to take us, wait, and bring us back from Laguna Quistococha and the zoo.

      The zoo area was spacious and there were ample opportunities to view their large collection of Amazon creatures. 

     Of the five freshwater species of dolphins in the world, the pink Amazon River dolphin is considered to be the most intelligent.  Although they claimed that this was indeed a pink dolphin, it looked a bit more gray to us. 


     At the zoo area, there were lots of pools with caimans, turtles, and other aquatic creatures…


     Could this be a black Puma?  I really don’t know for sure…


     The lake (Laguna Quistococha) has an interesting folkloric history.  According to ancient legend, there was a mysterious island located in the middle of this beautiful lake.  The island was believed to be cursed by evil spirits.  Many brightly colored macaws lived on the island too.  Whenever something bad happened at the nearby town, the macaws would start squawking and the island would move with powerful earthquakes caused by the evil spirits.
     Being terrified by earthquakes, the natives beseeched a Catholic priest to perform an exorcism to rid them of the evil spirits haunting the island.  The priest performed an exorcism and afterwards he tossed a crucifix into the lake. The normally calm waters of the lake unexpectedly became agitated and the island shook as the terrified villagers trembled.  The people all ran away, screaming “Cristo Cocha” (which translates to Christ’s lake).  Simultaneously, a huge black snake emerged from the lake and began swimming away.  The villagers could hear the snake crying with a whistle-like screech as if injured. The exorcism was a success and the riddance of the snake represented the removal the evil spirits from the island in the lake.  With the passing of time, the name "Christo Cocha" became Quistococha.  Today, the beautifully tranquil lake is a popular recreation area surrounded by the Quistococha Zoo.


     An ocelot…


     I was challenged to hold this Boa Constrictor snake…    


     A Blue-and-Yellow Macaw…


     Our MotoCarro driver was faithfully waiting to return us to the center of Iquitos.


     We had stored our luggage at the hotel so we had time for a relaxing meal at a café near the Malecón (riverwalk).  At 4:30pm, we picked up our bags, hailed a MotoCarro, and headed for the Iquitos airport terminal.  Air travel to this city is very important since there are no roads leading in or out of the area.  Everything is modern and check-in was fast and efficient.


     There is an old saying, “With time to spare, go by air…” The Star Peru flight was scheduled for 6:25pm.  The airline didn’t change their time board even when they knew the flight was running late.  We were required to stay outside of the secure area until the plane arrived.  Once cleared through security, the waiting room was spacious and comfortable.


     In a 4-engined, BAE 146, we departed at 7:40pm for the 1 hour, 20 minute flight.

     After arriving well after dark in Tarapoto at 9pm, we refused the expensive taxis and bargained with a MotoCarro driver to take us to the center.  Hoping to stay at the Hostal San Antonio, we were turned away because they were fully occupied.  I asked for a recommendation and was told to try the Hotel La Mansion.  The driver knew of it and took us there.  After a bit of hard bargaining, we were given the keys to a very nice room.  We strolled around the Plaza area and found a nice café to have fancy ice cream.  We were somewhat surprised that there was no hot water tonight, so the cool showers invigorated us.

     Tomorrow morning, we will try to find onward bus transportation as we head for Ecuador. 







       We sincerely hope that you will review the previous years of compilations to give context to the current editions.  Please let us know if you have any special suggestions and thoughts.

     REMEMBER:  The website is now fully active and you can visit it at any time.  You can also review any of the previous logs from the years 2006, 2007, or 2008 and learn more about the crew and their many adventures.  Enjoy.



   You may contact us via email anytime.

Thanks for allowing us to share our life and adventures with you.

Lotsa Luv,

Fred Reed and Judy Law




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