THE AMAZON, PERU
Now, this is a trip and travel post that pushed me to get out of my comfort zone more than I ever imagined. I know you’ve all been dying to hear the details so I’ll dive straight into them.
During this trip not only did I defy every single fear in my bones, but I also experienced firsthand how nature heals people...how it makes them softer, kinder, more human. One thing is to feel this compassionate and mystical energy flowing through my body due to my deep connection with nature, another thing is to whiteness how communities -that live in or near nature- act. How they speak, how the smile (constantly and contagiously), how they protect animals (even the smallest ones), and how they eat, live and breathe of nature. Out of all the eco-friendly hotels and destinations I’ve chosen to visit and share with you on my blog, this one took “into the wild” to another level.
A 1.5hr flight from Lima to Iquitos, 1.5hr drive to a tiny town called Nauta, 1hr boat ride through the Amazon to the hotel. That’s what it took for me to reach TreeHouse Lodge. I spent 3 nights and 4 days in the middle of nowhere. Literally! A magical nowhere that hides on the Amazon river. I slept on a treehouse made of reclaimed wood- hanging on the branches of a huge tree- 80ft above ground (or 94 steps all the way up, and 94 all the way down!). My room was like nothing I’ve seen before. Mesmerizing! Treehouse #8. The highest one of all. Branches crossing my room and bathroom and coming out of the “windows”, and a shower overlooking the forest. The hotel was also powered entirely by solar panels, which meant the lights went off at 10.30pm to save energy. I was given a walkie-talkie and a flashlight for those otherworldly nights. I say “otherworldly” because the Amazon comes to life at night and the silence is taken over by an orchestra of monkeys howling, crickets chirping, and frogs signing. The mystical energy of the Amazon is hard to describe. Good and bad. Beautiful and scary. Full of light and extremely dark! I couldn’t sleep the first night. I felt the presence of something bigger than myself and it terrified me. I was 80ft above ground, in a dark room, in the middle of the jungle, all by myself! Hearing things that wouldn’t let me sleep. Whispers and a presence that was not something magical but darkness in person. Testing and defying every inch of fear in my body. Longest night of my life! The next morning I sat on my bed and meditated on the idea of whether I had gone insane and officially lost it, or whether the universe was trying to peel the last layers of weakness in my soul. During breakfast, Martin (the waiter/kitchen manager and my new friend and protector) felt my fear the second I sat down. “What’s wrong? Where did your happy light go? You look unrested.” “Can I ask you something?”, I replied. “Tell me about the myths of the Amazon”. He immediately began to talk about The Yacuruna; an intense and draining energy locals call “el espíritu del río”, the spirit of the river, who supposedly represents goodness and evil wrapped in one spirit that seduces humans with whispers and lures them into his dark world. The minute Martin finished sharing this story with me, I jumped in excitement, hugged him and screamed “I’m not freaking crazy!”...”Now, do you happen to know a nearby shaman, healer or herbalist? I think I need a good soul cleanse or reiki or lots of palo santo to be able to sleep in peace tonight!”. That’s exactly what lead me to meet my newest shaman...in the Amazon (out of all places!).... Casilda.
Before visiting Casilda, I walked around the jungle with a local (and my new tour guide: Orlando) who taught me about the healing power of different medicinal plants. They have over 2500 in the Amazon, of which 40% is used to produce medicine for the entire world! I learned about “Breadfruit” and how we can use the juice from its bark to heal hernias, about “Cocona” and how its green juice is used for dyeing and also to heal burns, about “Malva” and how women in the Amazon use it to induce labor (or for headaches too!), and many others. And yes, I finally got to see and touch an Ayahuasca plant. It was actually smaller than I expected!
That same afternoon, I visited Casilda. The shaman and herbalist Martin had mentioned the day before. She did a cleanse on me to protect my soul. “Diosa de luz”, “Goddess of light”, she kept calling me. The cleanse involved smoking and blowing tobacco, and bathing my body in a cleansing perfume she had prepared herself. I slept like a baby that night! No noises, no energy. Pure bliss.
The next morning, I visited a local’s home (Ledy’s) and- besides learning how to make bracelets with seeds and dried palm leaves dyed with herbs and flowers- I also learned that it usually takes her 5 days to a month to make the arts & crafts she sells for only 30 soles (less than $10). This time, instead of asking for a discount, I bought gifts for everyone back home and chose to pay her a little more. Something to think about next time you travel to remote places. If you don’t ask big retailers in the US (or worldwide) for discounts, why would you ask the hands that make your products for one? Two years ago I made myself the promise of spending my money on trips, creating experiences and memories, and on buying gifts from artisans while I travel in order to empower them. This is also a great story-teller. I much rather give those I love gifts full of magic instead of expensive names or fancy materials. Another plus of buying arts and crafts like these is that they are biodegradable. Ha!
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners at TreeHouse Lodge left me speechless. The Chef made all dishes vegan for me and each one was more mouthwatering than the next one. All using local and exotic ingredients! Dinners were also paired with Peruvian music sung and played by Mac. A talented man who plays guitar, flute, drums and even taught me how to make origami with towels!
I finished my 4-day trip through the Amazon with a morning kayaking session through the Amazon river. Prior to that moment, I had never seen so many pink dolphins in one place. Scratch that! I had never seen a pink dolphin in person, period! And now I had dozens of them swimming next to my kayak at 7am! I also got to release baby turtles the hotel had rescued as eggs and took care of until the turtles hatched and were ready to be released. Magical. Otherworldly. Blissful. These are the only words that come to my mind when I think about the Amazon. Yes, it was scary to travel there solo but I would do it again in a heartbeat!
I truly hope you find some inspiration in my story and choose to embark on an adventure of your own. By yourself. Solo. Those are the most powerful ones. Those are the ones where you connect the deepest. With yourself and everything around you.
Things to know about TreeHouse Lodge:
-The hotel takes care of your transportation from Iquitos to the hotel. (boat and taxi. You just need to book your flight from Lima to Iquitos and send them the details)
-Hotel runs on solar energy and offers vegan options
-They also offer daily tours like that ones I did and many more. Most of them are in included in your room rate or package.
-No wifi (time to disconnect!)
-The most beautiful treehouse is #8. The one I stayed at.
-Befriend Orlando, Martin and Mac (he does
-They will give you a reausable water bottle and filtered water every day. You’ll drink lots of it! Believe me! Temperatures and humidity in the Amazon are insane!
-Activities I recommend: kayaking, medicinal plants tour, turtle release, visit the local community, star gazing at night.
Other things to know:
-If you need help with tours in Iquitos or anything else, contact Orlando! He's the sweetest human and knows SO MUCH about Peru and the Amazon. He'll be the best tourguide you'll ever have!
-Take natural mosquito repellent. You will need lots of it!
-Take your snack bars for the afternoon. You will be taking part in many activities and will be hungry every 3 hours. At least I was.
-Take good books for sunset and nights.
-If you like palo santo, visit the Iquitos market. I bought palo santo and copal there. Orlando can take you!