Our first update from the Manu Team (we’ve had to use a stock photo as the jungle internet connection didn’t allow for images to be sent with the update!):
After a 12 hour bus journey into the depths of the rainforest through a picturesque mountain pass we arrived into the small town of Salvacion; where we will be staying for a large part of our trip. On arrival we were given a short tour of the town and collectively experienced our first authentic Peruvian dish consisting of rice, banana chips and some form of questionable meat (beef skin!!!). To drink we were all introduced to another Peruvian favorite Chicha; blended corn which was met with a mixed reception.
After familiarizing ourselves with Salvacion our team leader Mr McSparron took us to a viewing platform overlooking an ox-bow lake. We will be working on the viewing platform here for tourists during our time here. Tom a second year geographer was particularly interested by this, finding it hard to contain his overriding excitement. We then ventured down to the bank of the ox-bow lake quick to try our hand at some bird spotting. We were lucky enough to catch sight of multiple Oropendula having been made aware of their existence by their unique water-splashing cry. Also, whilst riding a suspect wooden raft we drifted past capybara which was supposedly hiding in the undergrowth although we’ll take the locals word for it as no one actually saw it.
The following day we headed off to the Manu Learning Centre to help with the numerous scientific research programs which CREES have undertaken. We managed to drag ourselves out of bed for 6am and crammed into the local bus which should have held no more than 20 people but rather managed to fit roughly 50. After a 30 minute ride on the bus, we got off walking half an hour to the river’s edge. It was here that we took a motorized long boat; half way across the ‘Mother of God’ river the motor conked out and the driver was forced to ground the boat on a stony bank! We did however make it across the river safely and more importantly dry.
Whilst at the research centre we assisted with numerous activities. These included tending the bio garden, creating a new path around the swamp, and constructing tree frog traps. We also spent a long time lazing in the hammocks dotted around the center. The meals at the MLC were great and there were interacted with a host of other volunteers and students with similar interests to ourselves who were carrying out studies at the centre.
We were supposedly meant to leave on the Monday but didn’t leave until the Tuesday as the driver for the boat had left for Cuzco and he did not return until early that very morning. Despite being assured we would be leaving ‘right now’ upon questioning what time we would be departing for Salvacion, realistically it was at least another hour before we left. Notoriously this has become known as ‘Peruvian time’- to describe the lapse in time between when Peruvian says they’ll do something and when they actually do it that we are slowly becoming accustomed to. The extra day at the MLC we were put to good use and made to work hard so we were glad to return to Salvacion were we were start our projects the following day.