I thought that instead of writing my blog about the rain forest overall and the awesome activities we participated in, I would write about the lodge itself and the little details about our stay there. I want to give you a sneak peek into what it was truly like to spend three nights amidst the wild, free spirit of the Amazon rain forest surrounded by exotic animals and plants, the thick undergrowth of the jungle, and the overlying blanketing canopy above. It truly was spectacular…and a very interesting experience.
We finally landed ashore on muddy, steep banks after
riding for more than an hour down the Tambopata River. We trekked
through deep, sticky mud down a narrow, twining path cut in the edge of
the rain forest. It eventually led to the lodge that we stayed in for
three nights and two full days, the Posada Amazonas.
glance, the lodge looked almost like a vast tree house or wooden hut,
built with countless planks and boards of dark, water-soaked wood. The
path led to the lodge’s unique lobby that was literally completely
outdoors. There were no walls at all! The lobby was separated from the
thick surrounding undergrowth of the jungle merely by a few, sturdy
wooden rails, and a fragile straw roof.
At the entrance to the lobby swung three large hammocks on tall wooden beams, which we soon discovered were absolutely perfect to battle in “Hammock Wars,” as we called the games we played in the swings. In the corner of the lobby was a small shop with shelves encumbered with native Amazonian cultural merchandise, most of which was handmade by locals from a nearby village called Infierno. Selling handicrafts is a big way they make money for their village. They sell seed-bead jewelry and purses made from the bark of trees along with other items. One evening they even came to the lodge and taught us how to make necklaces, bracelets, and hand-woven baskets.
The lodge shop even sold a few varieties of chocolate bars, which we gulped down gratefully, nearly emptying their stock of chocolate on the first day!
In the very back of the lobby were two bathrooms with small bamboo stalls and a couple of white, glistening sinks, separated from the lobby only be a few thin curtains (which were not soundproof). Since the lodge was in the middle of a rain forest and since it also applied eco-friendly practices, there was no hot water to wash our hands in and there were no paper towels to dry our hands on. We had to shake our wet hands off until they dried on their own.
There was a wooden pathway elevated by wooden posts many feet above the ground connected to the lobby on the left of the shop.It lacked both a roof and walls, and was basically a pathway in the middle of the jungle. It led to the lodge’s large and accommodating dining hall, bar, and kitchen, which also lacked walls and were virtually open to the outdoors beyond the few railing and straw roof that enclosed them.
There were a couple of welcoming sets of comfortable couches, chairs, and tables at the entrance to the dining hall, nearly always used by guests in the early morning hours before the break of dawn. We quickly discovered that the padded chairs were a wonderful place to sit and listen to the beautiful melody of the forest’s birds while reading our favorite books, drinking huge cups of hot chocolate, or eating an endless supply of bananas right off the stalk. (In the lodge, there was a small hanging wall box with a hinged screen door on it. Bananas were hung there, still clinging to their stalk. Anytime we wanted one, all we had to do was open the door, reach into the box, and grab a banana right off its stalk.)
A few feet beyond the comfy sets of chairs was the bar with its endless bottles of deep red wine stacked gingerly on top of each other on shelves. Frolicking flames from candles, wicks ablaze, cast shadows that danced on the white tablecloths of rows of tables in the dining hall. (Our morning and evening meals were always eaten in the dark by candlelight.) At the very back railing of the dining hall was a buffet table laden with mouthwatering morsels during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There was a shadowed, narrow hall in the corner that led to the well-stocked kitchen. In the kitchen were wooden, screened-in shelves piled with uncut vegetables and fruits, some of which we couldn’t even identify.
Eating meals at the lodge’s dining hall was always so much fun. We soon discovered that the waiters only knew how to speak simple English phrases, or were still learning English. This gave us yet another opportunity to expand our Spanish vocabulary, which is always a fun exercise. Plus, as a bonus, we always took full advantage of the 24/7 free hot chocolate, strawberry milk, chocolate milk, and coffee. YUM!
We soon discovered that almost the entire lodge lacked electricity. Only the dining hall, bar, and lobby were lit, and only for a limited number of hours in the early afternoon and evening. Getting ready each morning in complete darkness, not able to see anything at all, was definitely an adventure. But the experience of staying on the edge of the Amazon rain forest in a hut-like lodge was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience–one we would do again in a heartbeat.
Wow, there is a lot I could say about the rooms!
Three walls surrounding our room were merely sheets of bamboo rods tied tightly together. So, anyone walking past our room on the pathways could practically peer right into it, which was a little more than uncomfortable at times! The walls didn’t even reach the ceiling, and therefore lacked the ability to block sound. So, people who were both near and far away from us could hear us, and we could likewise hear them, clear as a bell. There wasn’t even a wall at all in the very back of the room There was only a railing that separated our room from the endless undergrowth of the rain forest beyond. There was practically no privacy at all for any of us in the lodge in the Amazon!
The rooms consisted of different numbers of small beds elevated slightly above the wood-planked floors. They were blanketed in white sheets and thick comforters. Each morning and night two staff members of the lodge would go to each room and make and tidy the beds. Because of the lack of walls, bugs–especially mosquitoes–and other larger creatures could sneak, slither, or crawl into our rooms with ease. so, when the staff members would tidy the beds for us after dark, they would lower mosquito nets over our beds to protect us from bloodthirsty insects throughout the night. After we got used to it, it was kind of fun sleeping in mosquito netting.
We also had to ensure that any and all snacks we brought into our rooms were safely tucked in our bags and that our bags were zipped tight, just in case any hungry animal decided to eat a late night snack!
Hanging behind the bed by the railing was a small hammock in nearly each room, with a short wooden table and two tree-stump chairs in the corner. It was so relaxing to lie in the hammock or sit at the table in our room and gaze out at the jungle beyond, letting our imaginations run free, indulging ourselves with our favorite novels, or even catching a few zzzs.
It was pretty funny, though. Everything in our room–absolutely everything–was damp the entire time! The humidity in the Amazon rain forest is relentlessly thick, so everything–our money, our journals, our sheets and blankets and beds, our clothes, and even our hair–were always annoyingly damp. i think we all could have done without sleeping in damp beds each night!
The bathrooms are an entirely different blog within themselves!
Like the rooms, the bathrooms’ walls were simply bamboo rods tied together, and the back wall was barely more than a railing. So to our surprise, anyone passing by the bathroom could see (and hear…) straight through the walls!
The bathroom floors were small wooden planks nailed together with gaping cracks in between each board, revealing the dirt ground many feet below so we were careful not to drop anything tiny that might fall through the cracks. There was a small, short, glistening-white toilet with a roll of damp toilet paper hanging on the bamboo wall behind it, and sink complete with a bar of biodegradable soap in each restroom. A single shower stood in the middle of the bathroom, surrounded only with a clear plastic shower lining (again, no privacy at all!) that literally, for some reason or another, reeked like a dead fish!
Because of the lack of electricity, the showers were bone-achingly freezing. I was one of the lucky kids who didn’t have to take a shower while we lodged in the Amazon, but the few of the less fortunate ones described the showers as one of the worst (and coldest) experiences of their lives! And, because of the thick humidity of the Amazon, the kids who took those freezing showers stayed wet and cold for hours afterwards!
The bathrooms were a very interesting and hilarious experience, one that always seemed to be the main topic of discussion at the dinner table each night!
Now I really see why rain forests are called RAIN forests. The 12 feet of rain the Amazon receives each year was manifested by the thick, deep masses of mud that swathed the paths. Each day, we literally slogged in massive, deep puddles of dirty water, sludge, muck, and mud.
Lucky for us, the lodge provided mud boots for all of their guests.
As soon as we arrived at the lodge, we were instructed to pick out our boots from a rack of boots that were hanging upside down on wooden benches. Those were “community boots,” shared by all the guests at the lodge. The mud boots turned out to be lifesavers as we plodded down the mud-lathered paths of the rain forest, but they definitely did no good for our socks!
As soon as we stuck our feet into those boots, we could kiss our socks goodbye. We all threw away countless pairs of filthy, torn, muddy socks by the time we left the jungle.
HAMMOCKS AND “HAMMOCK WARS”
The many hammocks that were hung all throughout the lodge took the place of a comfy couch with a remote and TV and served as fun entertainment for us. We all took full advantage of the hammocks! Three of the hammocks that hung open to all guests in the lobby soon became our very own playground. We spent a lot of our time in the Amazon swinging and playing in those hammocks! They were SO much fun!
We even created games–playing “Hammock Wars” each night! Especially when the guys were around, the hammocks truly would become a huge battlefield. Sometimes (rarely) when only the girls were swinging in the hammocks, they were used for their true purpose: relaxation. We girls discovered that not only were the hammocks fun to beat the guys in their hammock wars, but they were also fun to swing in gently, talking or reading a book or two.
Whether they were used for battles, conversations, or reading, the hammocks turned out to be one of our main entertainments during our stay in the Amazon rain forest!