The Amazon, Day 4

Today was our final day in the Amazon!  Our time here both flew by and lasted a lifetime.

We started our day with a boat ride, hike, and a climb.  There’s a village near this area of the jungle that receives grants to care for the upkeep of this area.  One of the things they do is take care of a watch tower that provides a birds up view of this patch of jungle/swamp.  I won’t discuss the tarantulas hanging out just about the ladder you have to climb to get up there.  During our hike we can across more creatures, including a whole log full of fire ants.

There were fun moments too.  Josais found a water tree, in which there is actually fresh water inside the branches. We found a giant tree to get the classic group photo, and then had to balance on a small branch to cross a stream.  I think Keely accurately describes our reactions with her face.  Surprisingly, I did not fall in (as I, and everyone else, expected me to).

We went through the small village on our way back to camp.  It was a bit weird to be walking on cement in the jungle, but it was a lot easier, so there were no complaints from me.

We had a couple hours to relax, and then we were on our way back.  But Josais surprised us with one last stop about half way to town. I’m not quite sure what it was — a mix of rehabilitation centre and zoo? — but they had a pool full of piranhas that you could feed, and a whole pond full of giant caiman.  If these guys wanted to kill you, you’d be dead in an second.

And then suddenly we were back in Iquitos. I had one more day with the gang here, and then I was flying back to Lime and then home.

 

The Amazon, Day 3

Day 3 in the Amazon started with an early morning hike, in which Josias taught us about the various plant life in the jungle.  He also gathered all the materials he would need to create a backpack.  We were going to be moving to another part of the jungle today, and so he would be using this backpack to carry all our supplies.

As a crafter, you can be assured that I was very interested in this process. He used to put his kid in one of these when they went on walks. They are sturdy little bags.

From here we took off to the jungle. Our camp right now was surrounded by jungle but wasn’t actually in it. The hut closest in the pic is the hammock hut, and then the ones in the back are our cabins. You’re surrounded by jungle, but you don’t feel like you are in the jungle.

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You feel safe.  Like I was walking around in flip flops.

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But for one night, we were going to actually sleep in the jungle.  And so off we went to our new site.

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Yep, this is where I was going to sleep.  Literally in the middle of the jungle, with only mesh mosquito netting keeping us away from … well everything else.

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We dropped our bags off, made some dinner, had a small rest and then got ready for a night hike.  Or, well, swamp exploration.  We jumped in a small boat, and explored a swamp in the pitch black in the middle of the Amazon.

Captured on September 23,  2015, in AMAZON, PERU. Photo: Andrew Gosine

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About 10 minutes into our boat ride, Josias jumps out and tells us to wait.  What does he come back with? A baby caiman (think small alligator).  What does he want us to do?  Hold it.

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I’d say the rest of the ride/walk back to the camp was uneventful, but c’mon, I was in the Amazon.  Here’s a few of the critters we saw on the way back.

After what was deemed an appropriate amount of time exploring (I would have been happy with no exploring time during the night), we came back and got our individual mosquito nets up.  Again, I purposefully put myself in the middle of the group.

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You’d think after a long day you’d be exhausted.  That could be true, but doesn’t mean you’re going to sleep well when all you hear are various croaks and chirps around you.

What a day.

 

The Amazon, Day 2

On our second day in the Amazon, we woke up at the crack of dawn in order to see pink and grey dolphins and watch the sun rise.  It was worth the early wake up.

After some breakfast we got back on the boat and went piranha fishing … and swimming! We only stayed in the water for the amount of time it took to take the picture, but we literally went fishing for piranha then went swimming in the same water. Josais said there were only small piranhas here so we’d be fine.  (Also, didn’t think I’d ever say this, but piranha is pretty delicious).

From piranha fishing we went hiking.  The great thing about Josais is that he is so comfortable in the jungle.  Some guides only stick to the path, but he grew up in the jungle, so was willing to take us further in order to see more. Actually, that’s both a good thing and a bad thing, for someone not quite comfortable outside.

This hike was really cool. He weaved us all headbands from palm trees, let us swing from a vine, and showed us the best way to make as much noise as possible.  You’ll see a really big tree below; that’s called a telephone tree.  If you hit the bottom of the tree with a large stick it produces an echo that will carry through the jungle to the neighbouring villages.  This worked like morse codes, and was how they announced events such as weddings and funerals.

It was awesome.

And Andrew lovingly stayed up to get a picture of the camp at night, so we didn’t have to. It really was spectacular place.

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The Amazon, Day 1

Before we get any further, let me just note that most of the photos in the Amazon were not taken by me. If it’s of a multi-legged creature, I can tell you with absolute certainty that I did not take it.  But Keely, Marilyn & Andrew kindly shared their photos with me, so you can get a clear guide of what life in the jungle really is like.

Okay, back to my adventure.

Today we went to the Amazon. Our guide Josais is the best jungle guide ever, seriously. He took us out for breakfast, and then back to the Belen market to buy ingredients for ceviche. Then we got in a cab, drove to another market, walked to the water and jumped in a boat. The perfect adventurous start.

And a short boat ride later and we were there.  We arrived during the low season so there were wooden planks we had to climb to get from the boat to the camp.  In high season, the boat can go all the way.  You will see a tree below, half white half brown —  in high season, the water goes all the way up to the white on the tree.

As we got settled Josais made us some ceviche, and we figured out the daily routine.  We had an hour for breakfast, then some kind of activity, and we’d be back at camp for lunch.  It was too hot out to do anything right after lunch, so we’d have a few hours to hang out (literally, there’s a room full of hammocks), and then we’d go back out for some adventure in the afternoon.

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After the heat broke, we went to a place that will be hard to top: Monkey Island!  This is a rehabilitation centre for monkeys and other animals, and was just really amazing to be.  I’ve discovered I don’t really like monkeys crawling all over me (was anyone really surprised?) but it was fun to see them interacting with each other.

Josiah told us how his mom used to work in a nursery in his village (he grew up in the jungle), and they had a spider monkey who would make sure all the cradles were gently rocking at all times.

Oh, and I also held a sloth.

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All the views from Monkey Island were phenomenal.  Animals + views = lets spend every day here. It was pretty hard to convince Keely and Marilyn to depart; the monkeys loved them!

On our way back to camp, we did some fishing, and then had a few hours at camp before preparing for a night hike.

I will save you from having to experience that hike.  Tarantulas, toads, mosquitos and lots of other multi-legged creatures appeared.  I was very good at making sure I was never at the back of the line.