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.
Sabado – 24Apr10
Not my Mother’s Camping Trip
Yesterday, as usual, after my shower (fresh cold river water in a bucket – forget that solar-heated stuff) I put on shorts and sprayed my now bare legs with eucalyptus oil, presumably efficient at warding off mosquitoes. Later in the day I went into the kitchen to boil water (over the wood fire) for tea for Mary and myself. While waiting for the water to boil I must have killed 15 mosquitoes, on my legs. I made up a dance for the kids, slapping by body here and there, to a tune like La Cucaracha. They got a kick out of that.
Nati does a lovely job of arranging the sliced food on the serving plates, usually to look like a flower. For breakfast, coffee, a plate of verduras – sweet potato, plantain. Another of frutas – orange, papaya, banana, mandarin orange, with the lime I ask for at every meal. Every other day rice and an egg added. Jim’s trying to convince Nati that we’d prefer them not hard-cooked. I’m drying for a piece of bread. How did I make it in China?
For lunch rice, beans (every day different as we bought so many varieties, but we ended up prefering the lentils), and the same frutas. Plus an orange was squeezed for my drink while my friends split a beer. Dinner – rice, the same vegetable plate but with carrots added, fish (piranha?), and the same fruit.
I felt sorry for Rebecca. Guess she had given up begging at our dining tent (hands spayed on the screen, tongue lapping in and out) and was foraging on the vegetation over the river. She is only one year old and seemed to get no affection from anyone (except me). The villages sometimes find infant monkeys on the forest floor who have fallen from their mothers who won’t retrieve them if humans (or other predators) are around. So they raise them, let them range free, and when they reach sexual maturity they go off with a troop.
You’re going to laugh at me. The sunscreen was barely working on my hands with the malaria medicine side effect. The backs of my hands and thumbs were burned. (My face and neck were protected by my hat.) This morning I had the inspiration to put light-weight socks on my hands. Remember the puppet Lambchop? I had two of ‘em. With my thumbs in the toes I was having no trouble writing or using Mary’s binoculars. Just another eccentric American woman thing. Also, I brought one of the woven fans onboard for when the sun comes out and we’re becalmed.
The Sounds of the Jungle
It’s a good thing macaws are gorgeous because in a flock they create a dreadful cacophony. Two white-eared jacamars with long orange very pointed beaks and white patches behind the eyes. I borrowed Mary’s binoc’s today, sorry that I just hadn’t put down the cash for a good pair for myself. (I was trying not to buy anything new.) Yesterday I had not carried them.
Arturo cut the motor and there were the varied bird calls, the background din of insects, and the splash of one fish in the water. Mary showed me a lovely green grasshopper on her hand. She photographed dusky titi monkeys in a vine-covered tree; she has better eyes than I do.
These hand socks were hot. I waited for the morning haze to lift before I wore them. In preparation for a long morning (we started at 6) we packed dried bananas.
A woodpecker, one chop only, like an axe. A trilled brdebr. A cheeped chatchatchat. A br br br br call. The gurgling and foam of a stream (or emptying section of forest) entered the river. A chattering chur chur chur. A high chirrup chirrup. A low chut chut chut and churchurchurchur. Middle range wachury wachury wachury and squawk. A tree dropped in the forest, but we heard it. Whoa woa woa.
A gorgeous arboreal anteater, his body dark brown, his appendages gold except for his nose and the end of his tail dark brown. Not concerned with us he was four meters away. His feet, strange to say, were barely grasping, more like a human baby’s, fat with pudgy toes, pigeon-toed.
A loud chill-cha-juda chill-cha-juda. Whir-pa-gino whir-pa -gino whir-pa-gino. Weir-chochochocho Weir-chochochocho. Ani birds, spaced around each bend, standing sentry. A whole tree gargled but we only saw the sentries. I would have loved to record these sounds for my blog site!
The Baby Monkey
Narrow trail, not up to US Forest Service. What looked like a reddish-brown woodpecker with a black head and white on its wings. A miniscule yellow flower without leaves, all by itself; Mary said they’re sacred.
White-faced (monk saki with their nonprehensile tails?) monkeys crashed through the treetops towards us. (They should be called a “crash”, not a “troop”.) A few stopped and stared down at us, curiously. Arturo shook a young tree and a baby dropped from its mother to the forest floor!
Mary and I were devastated. This was how Rebecca was procured! He picked it up, and it was terrified and screaming. We asked him to put it back on a tree, where it scooted up a meter, hugged the tree, and stared down at us, trembling. Would the mother come down this low to reach it?
We were bushwhacking. We heard the rain pattering above but only a drop or two hit us in the understory. The temperature dropped a few degrees. Jose showed us an Isula black ant that Mary said could kill with its bite.
The so called Isula or Bullet Ant. It a huge ant, up to 5 centimetres in length, black in colour and is usually to be found on the lower part of tree trunks and in their hollow trunks. Its bite, which is very painful, will produce swelling and fever, which can last up to 48 hours. http://www.enjoyperu.com/peru_travel_tours_information/manual/insect-bites.html
Jose scraped the band of thorns off a downed palm so that we could scoot over it. The thorns looked like porcupine quills. He lifted a piece of bark from a dead tree to reveal a small birds’ nest of two chicks. Tiny saddle-backed Tamarin monkeys, looking like they were invented by a Disney animator, with white faces, jumped lower to stare at us. (Not my nor Mary’s photo.) The rain finally got to us. We covered our equipment and just got wet. Not much more so that we had been from sweat, but less odiferous.
I would probably have been able to make it back to the hunting camp on my own, slowly following the machete cuts, the broken twigs. But then what? The camp was quite a bit off the river so I couldn’t sit there to espy any boat (as if there would be one) motoring upstream. Couldn’t swim. First, it’s an hour, by boat, upstream. Then there are the anacondas, piranha, electric eels, and horrible tiny things in the water desiring one’s bod. No thanks.
On the way back down the trail we stopped at the tree where we had put the baby monkey. It was gone. Arturo claimed that the mother, after we left, had jumped down, slung the traumatized (not his word – he was using sign language) baby on her back and taken off.
We shared a few slices of dried apple (it was hot and we had packed better today), lots of water. The drone of the motor drowned out all but the highest pitched bird call. The sun was directly above, I had socks on my hands, as we boated upstream, “home”.