Some hours later, I was seated on a truck that cracked while it moved with difficulty through the dusty road, that swallowed the yellow mountains of Huancarani. I was on my way to Manu. Finally I was going to see that magical place that had captivated me months before. But it was not going to be that simple. The journey lasted for seven days and their nights, and it tested my endurance – as well as that of my traveling companions’; doctor Munn’s, and that of a pair of biology students from the University of Princeton that couldn’t mutter a word in Spanish.
Fours days seated on fuel cylinders and boxes with conserves allowed us to arrive to the Dominican mission in Shintuya, at the end of the strip of red clay in which the road had turned. From here, waiting for us were a day of traveling through the clear and torrential waters of the Alto Madre de Dios, and two more crossing the muddy waters of the Manu River, between beaches populated by flocks of birds and lazy caimans that slept oblivious of the canoe. I had never imagined that one could travel so much without getting somewhere.
– “I wouldn’t be surprised if after the next turn the Atlantic appears” – I thought with skepticism, while I tried some other posture to relieve the frequent cramps that punished muscles I didn’t knew existed. The night of the seventh day I just collapsed, exhausted, in a nylon tent at the shores of the Totora cocha, a lake of green waters lost in the heart of the Manu forests, where the small scientific station that Munn managed was located. Not even the strident cicadas or the incessant choir of frogs, were able to prevent me from being dominated by exhaustion. It was my first night in the Manu.