After a couple of lovely days in Cusco, all of the volunteers, Tilman, Lilia (MLC’s manager), and this random gentleman we never met before all packed into a van and headed up to the Manu Biosphere. It was a bumpy ride; we drove over streams and rocks, took sharp turns and even passed a tiny landslide in action. Miraculously, the random man- who turned out to be named Peter and worked for a human rights organization- managed to stay asleep for most of the ride. Sadly, his beauty sleep was interrupted when we came upon a massive landslide blocking the road.
We all climbed out of the van and saw a group of about twenty Peruvians conversing over a large pile of mud and rubble. Just then two men with shovels descended on the group and everyone got out of the way so that they could begin the enormous task of clearing the road. “Right,” said Tilman, “We’re going for a walk,” as he nimbly made his way around the landslide. I was the last of our group to pass the natural disaster, and though try as I might, I still sunk into the mud that was more like quicksand and gave all of the locals a good laugh.
That “walk” turned into a two-hour expedition. The cloud forest was lovely- we saw orchids, birds, and a waterfall- but after some time and no van in sight, we gave a nod to our early ancestors, sat down, and began to play with rocks out of sheer boredom. Finally, we saw our van turn the corner. Just in time considering it was beginning to get dark, and we still had a ways to walk before we would reach the lodge where we would be spending the night.
Finally, after an entire day’s adventure of landslides and motion sickness we arrived at Cock of the Rock Lodge. You heard me: Cock of the Rock. Peru’s national bird of course!
Cock of the Rock is aptly named for the Cocks of the Rock that grace the site veeery early in the morning. We were supposed to get up at the crack of dawn the next morning to see them but, well… we kind of slept through the whole thing. We did manage to see some hummingbirds though. Then it was off to the Manu Learning Centre (MLC) where we would be staying for the next month or so. “Manu is half the size of Switzerland.” Tilman told us. “Half of Switzerland? Half of Switzerland?” I thought. Sheesh. At that moment, as a directionally challenged individual, I prayed that I wouldn’t get lost in the jungle.
- Took a break during the ride in the rainy, gray weather and this puppy descends on us out of no where. Heaven sent? How else would you explain how his fur stayed so clean with all that mud around?