Adventures in the Colombian Amazon – Day 1

I finally found some time to write about our adventures in the Amazon…..

Day 1

Wow, we are in the Amazon rainforest! It is pretty amazing to be here with my 12 year old daughter. I remember nursing her at 5 am when she was just a few months old, overwhelmed by new motherhood, wondering if I would ever travel again and here I am, traveling with her. Just the two of us. It hit me this morning as we checked in our backpacks at the Avianca counter in Bogota and I found myself overcome with emotion. I was excited to travel with my daughter, to spend some quality time with her and to get to know her as the young woman she is quickly becoming.

The flight from Bogota to Leticia, Colombia’s gateway to the Amazon, was fairly uneventful until we looked out the window and saw a sea of green. Green as far as the eye could see, broken up only by the mighty Amazon River. We were about to land in Leticia.

As if to complete our “back to the jungle” fantasy, the taxi driver who drove us from the airport to our hostel, gave us an unsolicited crash course in jungle survival. Should we ever survive a plane crash in the jungle, we are to hike until we find a river, use a machete (must remember to pack it for the next trip!) to make a raft out of trees, and flow downstream to a bigger tributary which will eventually lead to the Amazon river and to civilization. All good information.

After about a 20 minute taxi ride, we arrived at our home for the next couple of nights, OmShanty. The cabins here are basic but they are cute, set in the rainforest, with cold showers and comfortable beds. Plus, there were monkeys playing in the trees all around the property. We are definitely in the Amazon!

After a much needed cold shower (as you can imagine, it is very hot and humid here), we took a local bus into Leticia to watch the daily sunset spectacle of thousands of colorful parakeets coming home for the night in Santander Park, Leticia’s main square. We paid a couple of dollars and climbed the steep and somewhat precarious stairs up to the bell tower of the church on the square and were rewarded with a spectacular view of thousands of green, white and bright blue parakeets kamakazee diving into the square’s lush, green tree canopy while the sun set over the Amazon River in the background. Amazing!!! This was an excellent beginning to our trip!

It was hard to tear ourselves away from the extraordinary views and very loud noise (thousands of parakeets sure are loud!) but our stomachs were grumbling and we headed to Tierra Amazonica, touted as one of Leticia’s finer restaurants.  It had a welcoming atmosphere and we settled in to enjoy exotic juices and local fare. Jade doesn’t like fish so she stuck with chicken in garlic sauce (decent!) while I sampled highly recommended Amazon river fish cooked in banana leaves. I have to confess that I found my fish to be somewhat chewy and underwhelming but then again, I am pretty picky when it comes to fish.

After dinner, the waiter flagged down a mototaxi and we headed back to Omshanty in the dark of the night. It was actually very dark since there are no lights a few kilometers outside of Leticia.

Riding in the mototaxi, the breeze was very refreshing, but I have to confess that living in Bogota is rubbing off on me. Even though both Enrique, the owner of Omshanty, and the waiter assured me that Leticia is safe, I felt nervous about taking a flagged down moto-taxi in the dark of the night. One would not think to take a flagged down taxi in Bogota, where it is prudent to call the taxi company and get a security code for the driver who will come to pick up. While we were a world away from the capitol city, I felt a lot of responsibility traveling with my 12 year old daughter.  You don’t see too many non-Colombian (or Colombian, for that matter) women traveling around this country.

Back at Omshanty, I decided to lay for abit in the hammock on our porch. I was enjoying reading my book when a big bug landed on me. I suppressed a scream and headed inside just in time to hear Jade say “Mom, there is a huge dead bug upstairs by my bed. You have to move it! I am not sleeping up there until you do!”

I wonder how our camping trip in the jungle is going to go….

 

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