Our journey started when we loaded into the van Sunday afternoon to leave Lasell. The first flight to Miami went by very quickly, we landed around 9:30 pm and stopped for dinner before spending all of five hours in the hotel. We woke up at 4:30 the next morning to catch the shuttle to the airport but the check-in process went quickly so we were two hours early. During the flight, it was very different for all of us because we were the minority and all instructions were first announced in Portuguese. We finally landed after five long hours, only to be stuck in customs for another two. Our guide Leandro met us at the entrance of the airport in Manaus, Brazil where we took another shuttle for a two and half hour ride to our Jungle lodge. On the way, we got to drive across a four km bridge that was only opened six months ago. Before the bridge was built, the van would have had to wait for a ferry that would have taken an hour to cross the huge river.
Once we arrived we got a tour from an employee of the lodge that started with some great freshly squeezed juice from local fruits. Then we had our first view of the Rio Negro from the lodge and a great tower on the lodge property that was built for viewing birds and the scenery of the Amazon. All of these facilities are available to us 24 hours a day. We then broke off into our pairs and went to our cabins to get ready for dinner. Dinner was amazing and we all tried different foods that we had never heard of. Our favorite was a dessert; passion fruit mousse. We then got our cameras and hopped on our first boat ride out on The Rio Negro where Leandro used a flash light to spot eyes of different animals from a long distance. We saw a night jar, caimans, and moths. Our two most exciting sightings were a sloth that we got right underneath. The female three-tow sloth was looking straight down at us which made for some great pictures. The second was a tree boa which is a non-poisonous snake that some of us even got to touch. It was surprisingly smooth! We are looking forward for our hike tomorrow and what lies ahead for the rest of the week!