Monday, 31 May 2010

I finally did it

I went back to the Andezon. Being the official ambassador of this region I have to visit it regularly and see how things are going there.

I went back to the same town, Tarapoto, but this time with a friend in order to visit the places I hadn't seen last time - La Laguna Azul (the blue lagoon). It sounds magical, and it is.

The lagoon is in some sort of a remote place 2 hours away from Tarapoto. The road to access it is very basic: no tarmac, no signalization, no lights, no traffic - just a pure jungle road like the ones you see in the movies. No bridges either because it's too pricy, so people use this very innovative platform to transport cars, bikes, pick-ups and trucks across the river.

It doesn't look very safe, and it's not - the locals proudly show you the previous boat that sank along with cars, bikes and people. There are two boats, one that works with a rope system (similar to the one that sank)

and another motorized one

After a very perilous path, we finally go to the Laguna Azul in the village of Sauce (pronounced Sawssé), booked our bungalow and relaxed on these hammocks. It felt like a little piece of paradise in the middle of the Andezon.

The lagoon is rather big and thanks to child labour, we managed to have a cheap tour around it

Thank you children for making cheap tourism possible

As the weather in the Andezon is rather unpredictable, it started to rain in the middle of our tour ruining our plan to relax on the grass on one of the deserted beaches. Nevertheless, it gave it this little Vietnamese touch as all the locals took their little motorised Asian-style boats to rush home

The village manages to give you the impression of really being disconnected from the world. No internet, very weak cellphone coverage, no roads - only mud paths with moto-taxis struggling on it - and very little light. It felt incredibly soothing compared to loud Lima.

The green surface represents the rich natural planktons that fish eat

The next morning was wonderful, not only because I woke up to the pleasant sound of the tropical birds, sat on a hammock and contemplated the lake - but because I FINALLY GOT MY PICTURE WITH POOR KIDS!

In your face Ewan McGregor

They look happy, but don't be fooled reader - they are poor. Look at the lack of fashion taste, and at the muddy road in the back; this is not Monaco at all. I have to thank the Andezon for making my dream come true. Once again Andezon, you are perfect!

After a wild night out in Tarapoto, which has an amazing nightlife, we took the plane back to Lima. Since another friend was coming a bit later from Europe, we decided to stay near the airport and discover a place called La Punta to later go back to the airport and pick up our friend. 

It's a long tip of land extending into the pacific located in the district of Callao. Everybody told me it was dangerous, the Rough Guide describes it as a "no-go area" and nothing else is mentioned about it in the book. 

Ignoring these warnings, we took a taxi and got there after passing through some very ugly districts. Once again, I have no idea where people get their informations from as it was not dangerous at all. There were families walking around the seaside, sitting in front of the ocean and enjoying the scarce sun of Lima's winter.

The place has an incredible mix of French-style houses along the coast

What seems to be California-style neighborhoods

And also cuban-style parts with lovely multi-coloured houses

The people were extremely friendly, surprised to see two foreigners walking around their neighborhood, considering the reputation of La Punta. We ate in the best restaurant of Lima owned by two adorable mother and daughter

Notice the totally fake Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt

Nevertheless, I have a hard time accepting that these kinds of signs are totally casual for Peruvians. We're all used to seeing "beware of the dog" or "no swimming", but this is rather unusual

Run Forest, run!

Overall, the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide kind of books are very useful, but do not limit yourself to them because you could miss on some great places. The Andezon is only hardly talked about in my guide and the Laguna Azul is not even mentioned.

Though it's not that bad as it makes these places less touristy and even more special, particularly if you're hoping to feel totally disconnected. Plus if the Laguna Azul was a tourist destination, the people there would be richer and I wouldn't have gotten my picture with these poor, yet happy kids. I know my role as an ambassador is to heal the Andezon, make it a better place, for them and for me and the entire human race - but I promise to start now, considering that I got my picture.

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