From the highland of Cusco, we headed east for the sweltering jungle port town of Puerto Maldonado. Lena was less than excited, with the prospect of heat and mosquitoes awaiting her. We spent almost two weeks, sweating in hammocks, swatting bugs of all shapes and sizes, riding in rickety canoes called Peke-Pekes headed for strange jungle settlements miles from any roads… I will even admit: It wasn’t the most comfortable two weeks of my life, but it did provide an interesting glimpse at jungle life- The real thing; where everyone’s uncle is a Shaman, small-scale gold mining is the main source of income, and platanos (bananas) are the main source of nutrition.
We spent much of our time in a small jungle settlement called Infierno, which lent itself to many jokes… I think on the final night, Lena was pretty sure she was in Hell- We had been staying in a small hut in the middle of the woods, with only a small mosquito net between us and giant flying cockroaches. That, along with the sweltering days, finally did us in, and we had to hitch a ride back down river for a cold shower and soft bed!