Hola sports fans. We are all well aware that you vultures want to see some evidence of kayaking .. trust us, we’d love to provide that right now. But please keep in mind the reality of the situation: 80KM third world first descent in an incredibly steep & deep jungle gorge. I hardly think that a week of in-country preparation is too much to ask .. no? Besides, once we launch y’all aren’t gonna be hearing from us at all for at least a couple days .. if not a week or more. So, no more hecklin’ from the cheap seats, eh? OK, with that outta the way, here’s a little update for you.
After dealing with some BS in Huanuco, we finally were able to board a collectivo bound for our take-out destination of Tingo Maria. All along we’ve been hearing how beautiful Tingo is and how pleasant the ladies are there. I was excited for a change of scenery. The road NE outta Huanuco (where I swear I saw the Latino version of Erik Boomer) follows the Huallaga for about 10 miles before crossing at Puente El Rancho & heading W around the river-left behemoth of a mountain that forms our long crux section on the river. The road climbs up through some colorful but run-down pueblos with livestock wandering aimlessly, dogs sleeping perilously close to traffic, and plenty of political graffiti covering every flat surface. The campesinos in the Peruvian backcountry are adept at navigating & cultivating the most rugged terrain — we saw fields being tended on 50 degree slopes well off in the distance & well away from roads. As the road climbs, you can easily spot the abrupt climatic transition from the open arid hillslopes of Huanuco to the dank dense vegetation of La Selva. Moist air from the Pacific end up permanently parked in this zone, creating a situation not dissimilar to our own Cascade environment. Tingo’s proximity to the equator means a year-round growing season, which translates to full-on tropical jungle. We’ll be boating through this transition on the other side of the mountain.
Our first night in Tingo was rough. Not much sleep thanks to the thousand in-heat dogs partying & howling just outside our window. By mid-morning though, we had moved over to our tropical paradise, Villa Jennifer, about 10 mins outta town. Ehrland & Graciela, the owners, are great folks who have the best accomodations we’re likely to see on this trip .. affordable too, considering you get amazing breakfasts & dinners, clean pool(s), monkeys, crocodiles, fusbol, pingpong, etc..
Here’s a bunch of random Tingo shots from Drew & me:
Little crocs are funny
Monkeys are just weird .. & not to be trusted.
But hairless dogs take the cake!
Looking down on the jungle town of Tingo Maria .. & up the Huallaga valley. That’s the Monzon valley off to the right. Gringos prohibido!
We arranged to leave all of our take-out gear & some dirty laundry with Ehrland & Graciela, hoping to be back by the start of the Peruvian independence day celebration on the 27th. A bit of a crapshoot given we really have no idea how long running the Huallaga will take. We hopped another collectivo back to Huanuco this a.m., leaving enough time to meet Piero Vellutino, who was flying in from Cuzco fresh off a multiday on the Apurimac. On the long twisty climb up outta Tingo, the dizziness & lightheadedness came on strong as a teenage salesman was in his 5th minute of his annoying half-hour long sales pitch. I did my best to convince myself that I wasn’t gonna be that guy getting sick on a bus & supressed the situation for a little while longer. But as is usually the case when you got something in you that isn’t supposed to be there, body trumps brain, & before I knew it, I was hanging half my corpse out the window spraying the countryside. For the rest of the ride to Huanuco & most of the day, I was a mess. Seems to have calmed down now though.
What will most likely be one of our last rapids, right in the pueblo of Cayumba.
While I was festering in bed, Piero took the reigns & being Peruano, had a much easier time of sorting out info that we’d spent the last week trying to access. He’s a huge asset & hat’s why we invited the dude! Turns out, yes, the Huallaga canyon is going to be a crazy thing to try to do, but .. there are developed trails & pueblos running the length of the river-right side. Meaning only that, if the poo hits the propeller, we do have some options for egress .. might take a week to get out, but at least we know that we won’t be ‘shwackin in the jungle the entire time.
So with the majority of the on-river rations having been purchased, with this new info that has come to light, & with the whole team here (& getting healthier), we are set to launch tomorrow afternoon! This will likely be our last post for awhile, so wish us luck amigos!