I have included some photos here that were taken by my friend and are copyrighted by Darvinia Amazonia Reserve. These may not be copied and used without the expressed permission of the photographer.
The Jungle at Night
Last night at dinner as we sat in a circle of light, another circle of light in la cuchina, from the darkness came the croak of what I envisioned to be a 40-pound frog. Jim said no, it was a large frog, double the size of one’s hand, but not 40 pounds. I liked my picture better. The night monkeys chattered, sounding almost like birds. I woke up to their calls this morning too, along with the raucous calls of the macaws. Last night again, one of those giant “vampire bats” flapped around my tent, scooping up the bugs attracted to my tiny battery-powered reading lamp. (The nightjar of course – see my blog from two days ago.) Mary heard it this time. Then the roar of a puma, but no, it was Jim snoring.
Rebecca the monkey is now my friend. This morning I sat down outside the dining tent and she crawled all over me, hanging on my arm, balancing on my head with her prehensile tail wrapped around my neck. She let me scratch her belly and I didn’t even have food. She is so cute!
Today we started at 7am and Jim’s gang was back at Ramon’s abode having a talk about expenses, accounting, Jim’s definition of honesty, and so on. It seemed that one of the guys was given money to buy boards, and there are no boards, but perhaps he still had the soles and simply had not gotten around to it yet. Another man had been given cash to buy gas but it seems he diverted five liters to his own use. There was $200 missing from the project accounting accompanied by the story that one of the kids in the village had tripped and fallen against a cauldron of boiling water, drenching his lower body, and had to be rushed (7 hours by boat to Iquitos) to a hospital. Jim didn’t believe it and asked to see the boy to see how he was doing. He was completely healed. Right.
There was a story for each guy. Jim was trying to clarify the issue of American standards. These villagers are incredibly nice, but in many (most?) third world countries accounting and ethics are not as strict as American standards. At least not the standards I was raised by. Our bankers with their shell games and bonuses are way off the deep end as far as I’m concerned. Maybe I’m too naïve in defining American Standards.
The Solar Battery Charger
The solar battery charger appeared not to work. When I plugged in “my” camera battery the light did not come on. I may default to Mary’s photos and after her camera dies give her back this one with the remaining charged battery. (She has two batteries for each.)
The next blog may be a problem if I can’t recharge the computer. I may have to type all of this in Iquitos! Plus download photos from my cameras, both of Mary’s (she also has a tiny one she used in Iquitos), and Jim’s.
Bushwhacking down the River
In our dugout we stopped at the village for more gasoline. There was a playpen on one of the docks, which look, to me, like rafts. A woman was crouched on another dock washing clothes in a plastic basin, scrubbing them with a foot-long bar of clothes soap. I had packed all khaki and cream-colored clothes because I was told, for Tanzania last year, that bugs would let us alone and go for bright colors. The villagers here wear bright colors, a girl in a pink top and yellow shorts, a woman in a red top with turquoise shorts. I am so drab next to them; even my hair is khaki.
Jose loaded a large axe. Either we anticipated larger trees across the river, or we’ll be doing heavy-duty bushwhacking. Tres nuevas palabras por día. If I stayed a year I should have the vocabulary of a 3 or 4-year-old.
Jose chopped and hacked our way along as if no one had been up this far on the river, for what, a week? Ants and small spiders fell on us with his hacking, but they were easily brushed off. Two monkeys, not close enough to see what kind. And always the little bats startled from their perches on the shady sides of logs flitted in front of us.
The sky was overcast. We were hoping for rain to cool us down. We had packed rain parkas (mine was so compact that it fit into my fanny pack) but Mary said that she liked to cover the camera and let herself get soaked, to cool down. We stopped under a flock of macaws and they took to the sky. Mary got a great photo. A fish jumped and skimmed across the top of the water.
Because dugouts have no keel, when we went around a bend Jose used his paddle as one. (Photo from yesterday.) Another large tree had fallen across the river. Jose hacked but Arturo didn’t have as hard a time getting the motor under as yesterday.
Their motors sit up and have a long shaft; the tiny propeller at the end sits at the top of the water, missing most of the hidden obstructions. (See photo of Jim and a few of his workmen.)
A rectangular web spanned the river, with a large spider in the center. I was glad that it was a meter above us. A bird chochocho, another a stuttering br-r-r, yet another wewewewe. A tree of birds chattering. The sound of the river rippling along tree branches. The rhythmic dip and drip drip drip drip of the paddles. The scratchy drone of insects just a soft background. You’d think that someone was playing a jungle CD!
A relatively small anaconda was coiled around a tree so we stopped. Arturo tried to grab him but he slipped away in the water. Another flock of macaws that we flushed. Some crashes in the forest that usually indicated monkeys, but we saw nothing.
After four hours we pulled off to a pool under a large tree for a “potty break.” We were wearing our Wellingston’s, so it was no problem. Just another day in the jungle.