Travel Info

Invitation to Expedition in the Napo-Ucayali Corridor: June/July 2008

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It is still early days of planning, but a small group of people are planning to travel, for the second time, down the Napo river – doing workshops relevant for indigenous peoples’ struggles, such as shamanic civil rights, and healing sessions in communities along the 1000km long and very exciting route from the beginning of the River Napo in Tena, Ecuador to Iquitos (where it meets the Amazon and the Ucayali rivers). The journey goes through one of the most biodiverse regions in the world – right past the Yasuni National Park, before crossing the border into Peru. After visiting The 4th International Amazonian Shamanism Conference: Magic, Myths and Miracles, which will be held in Iquitos, Peru – July 19th – 26th, 2008, we might continue to Pucallpa….

Sunrise on the River Napo

Contemporary developments in the global economy are very significant for the Amazon rain forest. While this might be said to be true for anywhere at any point in time there are nevertheless good reasons for paying special attention to what maybe the last battle for the survival of the largest rain forest in the world, the loss of which it should need no further justification to lament – and that is the basis upon which this invitation is written….

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“But the river-boat captain, he knows my fate…”

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river journey

Home Sweet Home: Reflections on the Amazon – Part One of ?

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Seeking refuge in Europe, to breathe and to reflect, the long, light evenings and the friendliness of the forest (that is the absence of the eternal threat of creatures out to get you) have besieged our imaginations.

The loved ones, the long-time friendships and the new friends are the medium of reflection – telling stories, observing reactions and thinking about it all at a distance ….we get high on our own anecdotal supply with a little help from our friends.

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Ayahuasca in San Francisco: coming down the Cordillera Blanca and back up with spirit juice.

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It had been two long days, coming down from the Cordillera Blanca from Huaraz via La Union and Huanuco at the door step to the Peruvian Amazon. As far as the mines, some hours before La Union, there had been decent roads, of course for the trucks carrying away the sub-terranean resources to the Canadian bottom line. The ugly appearance of mining facilities and the steady stream of full-sized lorries carrying ton after ton tears your heart apart, -like the mines tear the heart out of the mountains. The Cordillera Blanca is an outstandingly beautiful area – never quite seen anything like it.

In 1966, the Alpamayo mountain was declared “the most beautiful mountain in the world” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization“.

The (swim in the) Chinancocha lake speaks for itself:

But the mining business is growing and the mountains shrinking, and the water quality around the mines – down the rivers far away – becoming an ever more dismal health threat:

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Bloggin’ the road, swimming the river and back again.

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Frem og tilbage og lige langt, og ligemeget – eller hvad?

Went to the bus terminal, it was hot today. Very hot, somehow. The sun was out in full force. Waited for the bus, met some people, an Argentinian and a German backpacker, a Swiss volunteer on a bike that had cost him too much. Sweating.

Finally the bus came, only 10-15 minutes “late”. Went in, put things down and then found out that this was indeed the bus to Serena (not Williams), but it would not go to Serena. If a bus would go to Serena, now, from this place, then this would be the bus, yes that is correct. But this bus is not going to Serena, because the road is blocked, as it was last week. For sure, tomorrow, mañana, mañana, -haven’t I heard that one before. In Serena we were going to hang out with friends who work in the bush, as they so proudly call it, swim in the river -in the rain forest- and do the kinds of things that you do, when you do those kinds of things. But not today. Hate to say I told you so!

We walked back through town, down the Avenida de 15 Noviembre, past the house, quickly rerranged a few matters, then down to the local river, Tena.

There is a great place for a swim in Tena, just outside ‘a’ town, about a quarter, where the river bends, twists and turns to be more precise, there is sandy beach, a few huts and a civil society of riverside activities. Nice. Soft, wet going with the flow. Be water, my friend.

On the way back some shopping is “necessary” and the load is heavy, but the river has smiled upon our mood, dinner is smooth, the wine going straight to the head. What more can you ask for?

Ok, so we pull a giggle and settle in with a film: long live piracy-DVDs! Good Night and Good Luck!

POSTSCRIPT: There is something rotten in the state of Denmark… .. .

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Arriving in the promised land, delivered to/fro evil?

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Foresight you may call it, the plan was like this: a hostel had been booked over the phone and an airport pick up added to the order. Why not make things easy? But the dream plan was shattered: the pick-up remained absent. Well, whatever, we took a taxi and cruised through the valley of Quito, where the capital of the same name sprawls at the foot of the Pichincha Volcano, home to slightly less than a tenth of Ecuador’s estimated 13.2 million people. Arriving at the not so Secret Garden (not commendable given the way they “treated” us) in Quito’s Centro Historico (in guide books this is the “Old Town”) where the hostel is nestled in impressive colonial architecture (a walk around the Old Town is imagination candy – about which more later, perhaps), we learn that the promised room has the same status as the airport pick-up: it is not available. There is another double room possible without bath, but we’d have to vacate in the morning (we have around 100 kilos luggage of books, papers, computers, cameras and this and that), move into a dorm bed, up and down floors, then wait until Saturday for the room we had booked over the phone – it is Wednesday and we feel cheated, but also glad to leave the little backpacker haven where well-geared globetrotters mingle in a predominantly U.S. American blissful ignorance: it is not the place for us to be. An old friend, so to speak, come to our rescue, the Hotel Huasi Continental, which is a lovely old fashioned hotel, with roomier and cheaper rooms than the poxy Secret Garden, and an astounding pressure on the hot water shower. Delivered from evil we have arrived in the promised land. Bags dropped, and a bit of pottering about, no faffing!, and we stroll for dinner. Back in the room between nine and ten o’clock, jet-lagged and suffering from lack of breath at 2850 meter’s height we fall asleep to Ecuadorian TV.

The journey of a thousand dreams begins in a single night.

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Halloween, at night, in Madrid, the day had begun in shock and awe, that is in Manchester Airport where it is “certainly not hysterical” to consider lip balm and bottled spring water very dangerous items that are consequently confiscated – along with toothpaste and other essential terrorist items: ever seen a terrorist with bad teeth maybe? (Another surefire way to recognise a terrorist is that he, yes it is a (mussel-)man of course, carries more than one piece of hand-luggage, so we had to gaffer tape a bag with a video camera and check it in, pick it up again in Madrid once we were out of the hysteria zone.) The Spanish speaking TV was bringing news and images from the streets where plastic barbie devils and grave yard regulars mingled with the business as usual beer swilling, jamon eating Madrileños. “A night of witches and fear – La Noche de Miedo”, the beautiful and anything but Spanish looking blonde TV reporter communicated from the streets of desire. We changed the channel and watched Tom Hanks take a pee in Spanish, prayed to Shiva and slowly sank into our own exciting dreams of times to come: tomorrow we fly to Ecuador to spend 9-10 months doing whatever we will be documenting in this blog.

The wake up call came knocking on our door and we were torn from deep epic dreams – went to sleep slightly nervous in the partly joyfully anticipating manner that besets the ambiguous travelling soul woke in travelling mode: turn on the TV, tune into the bathroom and drop out for the complementary breakfast. A taxi was as easily found as we had been delivered to Hostal Cantabrico (commendable) near the famous Puerta del Sol, and we’re on the road. Madrid’s Barajas airport is huge and we aim for terminal four, which handles all Iberia’s flights. Bags checked in already in Manchester, checked in and boarding passes acquired upon arrival last night we waltz through the escalators, lifts and shopping havens, grab a sandwich, buy a peculiar crystal based electrical current mosquito bite treatment device and head for the gate: soon we will be flying high again.