We navigated using two Android apps - NAVFREE which requires downloading the application and the maps separately, and the other MAPODROID, which doesn't allow navigation but is quite effective when you want to see maps of the area and the internet isn't available. If you travel with a smartphone, you can skip the GPS that comes with the car and save few Euros.
In May 2010 we began a 20 day trip through some of the most beautiful nature reserves and scenery destinations in the former Yugoslavian Countries – Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia - with a small detour to Italy for one day and another detour to Carinthia region in the southern part of Austria for almost a full day.
In the spring, around May-June, the rivers are gushing with water and nature is at its best. To entice your imagination I’ll add some photos that might inspire you to visit these countries as well.
As usual, we fell asleep and woke up at around noon, and started exploring around. Huaraz is located at the bottom of the Cordillera Blanca (Spanish for "White Range") - as the name implies, the mountain range is colored with snowy white all year long. The city is an exit point for most of the treks in northern Peru - Huayhuash, Santa Cruz, Alpamayo and the small and lovely Laguna 69.
The mountains rise above this graceless city like the margins of a huge pot, and it's one of the things that makes staying in this city the most pleasant.
Looking back I can see how crazy my plan was. And like some other things I've done in the past, I believe I wouldn't have done it again... On second thought, I would. Cause this is me.
To make a long story short, in Yurimaguas we met a veteran Peruvian tour guide with excellent English, and asked him for a recommendation for a less than ordinary trip. For Mary he gave advise on how to behave with the "natives" she'll meet - don't expect them to be friendly; nevertheless, bring a bag of rice. As for me, he gave me the name of a village and a good friend of his there, who knew the jungle and could guide me.
After almost two days of sailing, I woke up accidentally at 6 am right when the Lancha was getting further from some village on the river. When I asked the crew where we were they said Nucuray. I told them it's my stop and I asked to disembark there in advance, they didn't believe that this was actually what I wanted. But for the Gringa you stop the whole Lancha, and bring the Gringa to the shore with small rowboat - anything to keep her happy.
I shuffled on the muddy river bank with my backpack, and hammock hanging off of it, my trek shoes are hanging from my shoulders and I'm still dizzy of sleep. When I asked a group of youngsters laying under a straw house with no walls where Juanito was they didn't know who I was talking about. A lady from next door also approached me, trying to help. She asked in which part of Nucuray this person should live. I didn't have a clue - the Peruvian tour guide told me that Nucuray was a village populated by 100 people. The lady said that Nucuray is the entire river, from here to the forest deep, and this is only it's entrance.
This was too much for me in the morning. The Seniora invited me to put all of my stuff at her place. It was a structure built of wood and straw, very close to the river bank and surrounded with mud. A narrow wooden log served as an improvised bridge across the mud, to a less muddy place where you can walk without sinking. Under the house floor pigs and chickens were running inside the mud.
Later when we wandered in the village, I realized that the house I stayed at was the poorest house in Nucuray. We went in the grocery store to buy some supplies for breakfast. I paid for the eggs and oil and we ate them with rice and onion - me, her, and her two little kids - Douglas and Shirley. It was tasty, regardless the fact I was starved.
The same night Vincent escorted me to the bus. I had a drive to Quito. Daniel was waiting for me there. Sleepless nights were a small price to pay because this is how I saved another night in hostel, which is time and money, especially when dollars are flying from your pockets like paper airplanes on the land of equator.
Field Note: In the fishermen town, you don't have to act like fisherman. One that hates fish, will live on squid.
Pink Bromeliads bushes were edging the driveway to the farm. When the vehicle finally stopped, we didn't hear any other vehicles. With exception, a group of Englishmen who were about to leave for a trek, it was only us. Somehow I didn't envy them in that heat. Gabriel showed us our room, in a huge residential building made of dark wood.
Without thinking twice I changed into a bathing suit and dragged Daniel to swim in the river flowing below our window. It was freezing, but a group of kids played in it like it was a warm bath. I naively splashed water on one of them, and immediately all hell broke loose, with an all-in-all water fight.
I passed the afternoon in the farm "lobby" with a book on a hammock. Instead of reading I talked to Gabriel most of the time. I learned that most of the kids I saw in the river were his. These little "moglis" wore clothes mainly from the tourists.
His pleasant and smiling wife cooked and served us. That night Gabriel taught us to make organic chocolate - from cocoa to the addictive liquid chocolate where we dipped fruits and fingers. After Gabriel and his wife retired to bed, we stayed alone in the entire compound. And we, weird people as we are, went down to the frozen river. Full moon, cold water, crickets, and night birds. Besides that - stillness.
We passed the next day in Idleness, me and Daniel, until my flight. It was the Ecuadorian independence day so all offices were closed. Daniel was beyond the stress stage, and realized that with avbit of patience, all embassies will be open and eventually he'll managed to leave.
We parted in the evening without knowing when and to where he'll continue from Quito but we knew we'd meet again.