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iSUR Journal Part 5: La Habana Rural Inn

January 2, 2011

The Spanish translation is not perfect! I did it by myself – but it accurately conveys what Herbert is saying. I’ll be fixing it soon with a translator.


Dusky-headed parakeet (Aratinga weddellii)

Last night we stayed at Magali’s again (Amazon Shelter) because a pipe broke at La Habana Rural Inn. We got up at 5:00am to visit the small bird clay lick near Magali’s house on the Tambopata River. It was spectacular! There were dusky parakeets and blue-headed parrots. I estimated that there were over 100 birds over the course of an hour. They arrived early and stayed in the trees above the clay lick for a little while before flying down to the riverbank. In our last moments at the clay lick, two yellow-fronted parrots arrived as well. Overall it was a morning well spent.

I took a nap after our morning excursion and then we headed out to La Habana Rural Inn, a property owned by Professor Herbert Lovon and family. Herbert is a character. He is an older gentleman and was a science teacher for most of his life. Now, he owns a beautiful piece of property in the corridor and is creating a paradise. One of the first things he told me was “We don’t have any paintings in the buildings because you just need to look outside to see art.” He has a few rustic cabins on the property, a canopy tower on a terrace behind his house, and a beautiful botanical garden. Besides all that he has a view of the Tambopata River and many hectares worth of forest and trails. He took us on a tour of the whole property. Along the way he teased me relentlessly in Spanish and told the funniest stories. One of my favorites was the story of the ironwood tree – one of the strongest woods in the forest. Apparently cutting down an ironwood tree with a stone axe used to be a test given by the fathers of young girls to eligible bachelors. If they couldn’t do it – they were lazy and unworthy. We were standing in front of one of the giants as he told the story and I could hardly imagine trying to cut down a tree so massive and strong. The men who did it must have really been committed (probably reduced the divorce rate). He also told me about the forest knome that they believe in here in the jungle. It often assumes the shape of an animal or a family member and leads people astray in the forest. It is the reason that people get lost in the forest – especially beautiful women. The knome can change everything about its shape except for its feet. It has one human foot and one knome feet – so Herbert warned me to always look at a person’s feet before I go into the forest with them.

In our walk in the botanical garden, Herbert made sure to point out all the interesting plants. He stopped for a bit longer at one called para para. “This is for old men like me to make the ladies happy,” he told me. It took me a moment to understand him, but I got it when he bent a leaf in half and let the bent half slowly pop back up. His raised eyebrows said it all. Para para is the natural equivalent of Viagra.

Overall it was a beautiful property and a great visit. I would enjoy spending more time there and would recommend it to anyone who wants to relax and see some pristine forest within 15 minutes of the city of Puerto Maldonado.

We spent the afternoon at Playa Botafogo – a beach that is nonexistent in the rainy season. The property around the beach was beautiful though. They have been reforesting much of the property and the forest is strong and healthy. We saw a lot of wildlife in the short walk we took on the trails. Ronald, the owner, is a young man and his two daughters were charming. He is passionate about conserving the forest and showed me the large trees on his property with incredible pride. It is amazing here to see men take as much pride in a large ceiba or ironwood tree as in an expensive sports car or a new house.

We spent the night at Magali’s and had a lovely choclo salad (choclo is a delicious variety of corn from the highlands). I went to bed early to prepare for an early morning.

Dusky-headed parakeets (Aaratinga weddellii)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Moria.Robinson permalink
    February 3, 2011 9:10 pm

    The parakeets and palms are beautiful images – the subtle colors of the birds match the greens and browns of the leaflets. And such personality in their posture of the pair, in the second image.

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