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The Great Peruvian Amazon Expedition
                   
Dolores C. Hall

Day One -
Saturday, March 25, 2000
Our Amazon expedition began at the Miami International
Airport, where we were met and assisted in preparation for an
evening departure on American Airlines.  Dinner was served
aboard our nonstop 4 1/2-hour jet flight to Lima, Peru, the
capital city located on a desert coastal plain between the foothills
of the Andes and the curving shores of the Pacific Ocean.  
Upon arrival, we cleared customs, reclaimed our baggage and
transferred to the beautiful Sheraton Lima Hotel and Casino.  
Since it was late (after 10 p.m.), some of us "old folks" hit the
sack immediately.  Others checked out the gambling.

Our intrepid little band of adventurers from Louisiana's Cajun
Country was comprised of: Daisy and Bob Chaboudy, Betty
and Ronald Loumiet and Yours Truly, all of whom were already
experienced world travelers and veterans of trips to such locales
as; Nepal, the Great Wall of China, Istanbul, Singapore, the
Canary Islands and other such exotic and interesting places
.
Day Two - Sunday, March 26
After breakfast, we enjoyed a wonderful city tour of Lima, the
Spanish colonial capital of Latin America for almost 350 years.  
We visited a park on the Pacific Ocean, and we were shown the
ornate balconies (depicting Moorish designs) and the beautiful
churches and living quarters of the city.  After a sumptuous lunch
at one of the fine restaurants in Lima, we boarded an Aeroperu
flight for a short trip over the Andes to Iquitos, a lively frontier
city on the banks of the Amazon River.  We once again
reclaimed our baggage and transferred to the big river cruiser,
La
Esmeralda
, which was to be our home for the next eight days.  
As soon as everyone was aboard and settled into their cabins, we
were off to begin our cruise into the greatest wilderness on Earth.
As we left civilization and the river became our environ, we were
able to view incredible spectacles of stars and constellations, both
northern and southern.

Day Three - Monday, March 27
We awoke on our first morning on the mighty Amazon, to find
an ever-changing panorama of incredibly abundant life all around
us as we sailed along.  Small villages dotted the shoreline and
channels weaving through small islands provided us with
glimpses of an astounding variety of wildlife.  We boarded the
ship's small boat to explore some of those channels, watching
monkeys playing in the trees, sloths hanging on the sides of trees
and numerous birds of magnificent colors flitting about.  We
continued through a maze of islands which provided us with
close-up views of a variety of marsh birds, including the Oriole
Blackbird, the Purple Gallinule and the Yellow-Headed Caracara.
 In the afternoon, we arrived at the junction of Rio Ucayali and
Rio Maranon, the confluence where most maps indicate the
beginning of the Amazon River, about 2,400 miles from the
Atlantic Ocean.   Our route today is along the right fork, up the
Maranon River.  One outstanding feature of the Maranon is its
large population of both Gray and Pink Amazon River Dolphins.  
It was a pleasure to watch them as they cavorted near
La
Esmeralda
and along the shoreline.
Day Four - Tuesday, March 28
That entire day was spent exploring two really beautiful
"blackwater rivers" that flow out of the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve,
which is the largest wetlands reserve in the world.  Our first
early-morning excursion was a pre-breakfast outing in one of the
ship's small boats.  We searched for birds and other wildlife on
the Rio Pucate.  This was a marvelous introduction to the world
of the tropical rainforest.  The Pucate is a small forest-lined
stream, where trees hang out over the water and where smaller
creeks invite you to explore the shadowy jungle.  We saw
numerous birds as they flashed across the river; Masked
Crimson Tanagers, Red-Capped Cardinals and Rufescent Tiger
Herons, to name just a few of them
.
Narrative continues....