After Machu Picchu it was time to say goodbye to the parents, sad day, but a lot of that emotion was taken away by discovering the Hulk had a flat tire (first of the trip) and we needed to get said parents to the airport. Thankfully, another gentleman also picking up his car took pity on us and helped us change to our spare, otherwise we may have had the parents with us a little longer.
Funny thing was that we were planning on taking the Hulk for a full service in 2 days, so we just figured we’d get the tire fixed then. It was a Monday and the garage was packed, but eventually we left the Hulk with the kind folks at Toyota Corasur (who do not fix tires), and went to run some errands in town and pick up some supplies. We were originally told to return at 5pm, but seeing as we don’t have a phone, we always head back early “just in case”. We arrived at the garage at 4pm assuming that the Hulk would be ready to go, not much had needed to be done, and were surprised to see him still in the lift, then all the friendly folks avoided us, I knew we were in trouble. Eventually, Carlos, a young salesman who spoke English came to deliver the news, the Hulk had a fracture —what??? Okay there was some translation issues, but basically our oil filter sits in a plastic housing and that fell to pieces when they removed it. They claim whoever did our last service probably over tightened it and they pointed out that we are really quite lucky that we didn’t have an issue while driving. So the good news, they could fix it, bad news, they didn’t know when, worse case would be 15 days! Needless to say I barely held it together while we collected our tent and some clothes from the undrivable Hulk and waited until we were in a taxi to have a cry. It wasn’t the end of the world, we had been planning on doing some trekking, it’s just a helpless feeling having to leave your life’s possessions in a garage. There is a happy ending to this though, after seeing how upset I was, the parts guy, Julio, bent over backwards to find this part somewhere in Peru and we were able to get the Hulk back in 5 days! Plus all the overlanders at the campsite took care of us, while we slummed it in our tiny tent.
With the Hulk back in working order it was time to get moving again, originally we wanted to go hiking but I had contracted the “Cusco Cold”, a horrible, nasty cold, that would not let go. So new plan, let’s get some warmth and head to the Amazon Jungle. We left Cusco bright and early and drove 450km to Puerto Maldonado on the new Transoceanic Highway, what a beautiful ride (that still took 8 hours). In Puerto Maldonado we were welcomed by Donald and Wadee at the Anaconda Lodge, it was Wadee’s birthday and we were invited to her BBQ dinner. Later that evening Donald walked us back to the Hulk in order to introduce us to our neighbours, the 3 tarantulas living in the tree next to us.
Next day we went with another guest, Steven, on a boat trip up the Rio Madre De Dios. It had rained during the night and the river raised over 10m, there were all sorts of debris flying down the river. We stopped at a small lodge to borrow some Wellington boots and then hiked 3 km in the Tambopata Reserve to Lake Sandoval, where we jumped in a canoe and took a tour of the lake. We were lucky enough to spot two caimans, a tiger heron, tree bats, monkeys, turtles and lots of other birds. Definitely a worthwhile trip.
The following day Dan and I took a hammock making class, yes you read that correctly, and I would just like to say that it was Dan’s idea. You see the hammocks we’ve come across travelling so far have always been a little short for him, so he decided that if he made his own, it would be long enough. I’ll let you know when he finishes.
We spent one more day, relaxing, and knot tying soaking up the warmth before heading back to Cusco, weirdly I had been mentioning to Dan how much I had been missing winter, well the weather on the last pass gave me a fix as we drove through a snow squall. Little did I know we’d be hiking in a another in less than a week, but that’s another story.