From Tingana to Moyobamba through Orchids and Hummingbirds
Without knowing hardly any references about the place, I had decided to travel to Tingana in Peru. It began to dawn at 5:30 am when we picked up a car at the hotel in Moyobamba to move for 45 minutes to Puerto Boca de Huascayacu jetty on the Mayo River. Here we took a canoe to reach the Tingana reserve after 50 minutes of navigation, immersed in the fog.
It was when leaving the Mayo River and entering the narrow Avisado River, when the vegetation of the flooded forest enveloped us. This is a place far from the madding crowd, because the noise in Tingana is only that of the forest animals.
The breakfast tasted different in such a place, especially after a little swing in the hammocks. We take a canoe ride. The amphibian forest of renacales (a type of ficus) and aguajales (a type of palm tree) emerges from the water. It wrapped us completely. We see trees with huge and branched aerial roots that are several meters long.
The huasca rebels and the chullachaqui rebels reflected on the aquatic surface. We see plants that float on the river, flowers, fruits, of which we began to know their utilities and properties. It was a world of sensations, aromas, sounds and a sensory wonder. In my life I had never seen butterflies so big.
As we had to ride alone, we soon moved away from the riotous students to immerse ourselves in silence. Our little canoe allowed us to penetrate into less accessible places, shrinking under the trunks that grew in any direction, vertical, horizontal, or oblique with all possible inclinations.
One of our canoeists imitate the sound of forest animals better, and together they composed a symphonic concert. Apart from birds, we had the opportunity to see sloth bears, red monkeys, pichicos, monkey monkeys, and hedgehogs. It was a beautiful walk at an ideal temperature.
We have another rest with the swing of the hammocks, before the meal. The chicken raised free in these lands was a pleasure for the palate. The scandalous students left after lunch and left us in a quiet atmosphere. Actually, most visitors to Tingana stay only for the day. But, in that case, we would have missed a few things and many sensations.
While we plunged into a semi-siesta in the hammocks, we began to learn some secrets of Tingana, its legends of mermaids and men-monsters of the night. Between laughter and mysterious stories, the relaxation was absolute, tasting moments with a taste of peace.
During the afternoon walk through the fields, I was still barefoot, because it gives off an air of Bohemian romanticism. Passing through the fields seemed to me as close to the Eden of Adam and Eve as I can imagine. In my life I had never seen so many varieties of edible plants, fruits that I didn't even know existed, and that we were picking from the trees and tasting.
It was a binge of organic fruits with different varieties of oranges, bananas, rose-apple, camu-camu, and carambola. We see cocoa, and coffee plantations. Each family does not have a small garden, but hectares cultivated in the middle of the jungle, which could feed an entire village. They produce more than what they can consume and they have plenty of everything.
We have another rest in the hammocks, waiting for dinner. It was also a turnaround for the battalions of mosquitoes, eager to taste new blood. The dinner, of course was made entirely with products from their gardens. There were vegetables, fried plantain, rice, delicious chicken, and juices.
If we had not stayed to sleep, we would have missed the evening show of the fireflies too. It did not take me long to convince myself to take the canoe for a night walk along the Avisado river. We wanted to do it so much and it was worth it!
The sensations were accentuated in the whispering darkness. We heard so many sounds during a walk through the musicality of nature, with the rhythmic rhythm of the oar. I could not imagine discovering so much nightlife in the forest. The birds sang, flew, or rested on the branches. The aromas came with greater intensity. We sailed so self-absorbed that we did not utter a word. The trees seemed to acquire movement. The shadows were still disturbing and exciting at the same time.
Navigating a narrow jungle river in the midst of darkness was an experience that we felt led us to a world of magic, and mysterious. They are sensations difficult to describe. When there is no artificial light we see that the night is not so dark, and our sight adapts to the darkness. We can even distinguish the silhouettes in the darkness.
The stars adorned the sky while I continued to discover mysterious stories of Tingana. In Tingana there is no electricity, nor running water, and the only road that arrives is the river. For a day without showering nothing happens, in exchange for the stories we were learning, between legend and belief.
At 6:30 am we get out of bed to take a walk through the orchards of Tingana. We take a different route from yesterday. One of the villagers accompanied us to show us their crops and teach us the utilities of the native trees of the jungle.
There are trees that bleed and heal wounds, others that cure diseases of the kidney, and seeds that serve as soap. We see shells of great fruits with which after emptying them, they make their dishes. They have everything they need around them. It is a giant natural pharmacy.
Their orchards are luxurious, but their huts are humble. It is like living an almost primitive life, without electricity or running water, without a telephone or wifi. Under the fruit trees, we tasted freshly picked fruits, and more and more fruits. In my life I had never tasted so many new fruits in a single day.
For breakfast we have the fried plantains. The eggs were the last thing we tried in Tingana before leaving for Moyobamba. We first navigate the Avisado river, then the Mayo river, and finally drive. At midday we reach the hotel. We could have climbed the Morro de la Calzada, a hill outside Moyobamba that looks like a natural viewpoint over the jungle. But, it was too hot to walk.
We could not leave the city of orchids without visiting an orchid garden. The best option we found was a private estate that exhibits orchids in the middle of the forest, integrated in its natural habitat. We discarded the orchid center located inside the city that have orchids in pots, which is also dedicated to sale.
The orchid center is located on the outskirts. I think it took us about 20 minutes to get there by motorcycle taxi. In this particular property they guided us, explaining the names and characteristics of some of the 360 varieties of orchids they cultivate. The flowering has only just begun. The fullness will come a little later, in December.
However, what attracted our attention most were the flights of the hummingbirds that approached the drinking troughs. It was almost impossible to distinguish its blue, orange, green or red colors before its continuous flutter of unbeatable frequency.
Going to the sulfurous baths was another relaxed option that we chose. This tropical climate exhausts anyone, and what we wanted was to spend some time in the pools under the waterfalls, or in the sulphurous pools of cold water immersed in nature. And besides, there was not a bar to refresh ourselves. It is just a place to spend a pleasant time between idle Peruvians and children.
An unexpected rehearsal of maritime dance surprised us in a school. The girls won my applause by repeating the dance for me. They seemed delighted to be in the photos and wave their voluminous skirts to the music. The sunset over the Mayo River was most accessible from our hotel. The eight hectares of forest that surround us invited us to travel along its paths of tropical vegetation to reach the banks of the river.
We have dinner in the restaurant in Moyobamba. Although, at first we thought we were soulless and had a hard time deciding to enter, the truth is that the food was very good, and the service very friendly. We have Tilapia fish with avocado and patacones.