Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Puerto Maldonado

We were up at 4:30 to catch our plane to Puerto Maldonado. Sitting in the hotel lobby waiting for our driver, we asked the desk clerk to check to see why he was late. He phoned for us, only to discover that I had misunderstood the time, and he had told me that pickup time was 5:45, not 5:00. We could have slept for another 45 minutes. Sorry, Marianne! One thing about travelling with a friend is that it helps you to develop the traits of tolerance and patience!
Amazing pigeon action outside the church in Lima
We met some interesting people while we were waiting at the airport. Among them were a couple of young women originally from Australia, but now residing in Whistler for the last ten years. One of the women was on her way home after being here for a month, the other had already been here for 3 months, and was intending to stay for a few more months and continue travelling on her own. Courageous people like this never fail to impress and inspire me!
Another group that we met were 14 young adults from a Catholic college in Chicago, travelling with one of their professors, Brother Michael. Brother Michael was a source of great knowledge about the area, having studied and travelled here in the past. He disputed the information that our Inca tour guide had shared with us yesterday, regarding the treatment of the bones that we had seen in the catacombs of the San Francisco church. Estimates are that there are between 25,000 and 70,000 people interned in 6 miles of underground tunnels and rooms under the church. As these areas filled up, the church would dig deeper, creating more rooms and tunnels. This resulted in three floors of underground rooms, and the tunnels provided an escape route to the sea in case they ever came under attack. While fascinating to see all these bones, it was also quite shocking to see that they had been sorted into bins according to type, femurs all in one huge area, skulls in another, etc.

While Edwin, our tour guide told us that this was because of a crazy bishop who ordered the priests to dismember the skeletons, Brother Michael claimed that it was not a disrespectful thing to do at all. He explained that the bodies would have originally been covered in lime, then buried in layers of dirt. When these layers were eventually excavated, the bones were all disconnected, and it was impossible to tell which bones went with which body. It was felt that rather than leaving the bones all askew, it would be more respectful to put them into some sort of order. Certainly gives one much pause for thought about the transitory nature of our bodies!

Just one of the many bone repositories in the catacombs.

We head into the Amazon jungle today, where there is no wifi (imagine that!), and electricity is by generator, so will be fun! We are looking forward to seeing lots of fascinating wildlife for the next 4 days and 3 nights!

taxi around Puerto Maldonado
family transportation....who needs a minivan?

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