Visiting the Construction

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.

Domingo 25Apr10

Jim had a talk with our guides this morning.  No more shaking trees to produce a baby monkey.  No molestar.  We want the protected wildlife to trust us.  The guides agreed; they’re learning.

Rebecca just peed on my head.  Now why would she do that?  A minute ago I gave her half of a sweet potato.  Some kind of adolescent joke?  Nati said she is marking me as her best friend.  Right.  Sure glad humans don’t do that!

Our toilet was very hygienic!   First you tossed in a handful of dry grass from a pail (I think thatch that blew off the roof, which was in need of repair), you used the bucket with the attached toilet seat, then you sprinkled it with ashes from the cooking fire which were in a half gourd.  It didn’t even smell.  One of the guys emptied it every day and then washed it in the river.

Visiting the Construction

Both of my friends had scratchy throats.  Jim and his crew were only working a half day on construction of his house, ‘cause it was Sunday; they left at 6am.  We left at 8:00; Mary was not feeling great but wanted to see the construction, so we boated upstream. 

Green parakeets, looking like leaves, made a racket in the top of a tree.  A “crash” of monkeys in bushes along the side of the river retreated as we approached.  The burnt-orange black-collared hawk with black and white tail and wings glided across the river and turned into a large leaf.

The intrepid explorer in Z wrote long letters to his wife in England and sent them by native runner from the heart of the jungle to the town, to be mailed.  If I had been really serious about this blog I could have sent a boatman (at a hefty expense) into Iquitos daily with a CD that I had typed, complete with downloaded photos.  OR I could have called Iquitos daily from the one radio phone in the village to dictate the blog.  Of course, I would have needed a secretary to take it down and then type it into the computer.  But I hadn’t the soles and I was not that serious.  (However, I fanaticized that the entire US waited expectantly for my daily blog.)

It was barely sprinkling when we left.  Then it picked up a bit, and we were motoring into it so we donned our dorky rain ponchos.  The temperature fell a bit and we were almost cool, even under plastico.  Mine was transparent (the very cheapest) and I could write under it on my leg.  Mary’s backpack and camera and “my” camera were covered in our laps.  (Yes – yesterday the camera battery did charge.  Jim snapped off the plastic cover and the recharger appeared to push in better; its light came on.)

We passed Nuevo Jerusalen, the concrete block school, maybe 15 raised, thatched-roof houses.  One man was bathing in the river, one woman sitting in a canoe washing clothes.  The rest, adults and kids, were perched on their stairs, watching the river.  Note: the drone of the motor announces company way in advance.  Many can tell by the individual motor sounds who is approaching.

Yesterday was bathing day at Ramon’s house.  Nati and her daughter and baby somehow bathed surreptitiously in the river (from a canoe around a bend?)  The young men in their Speedos washed on the stairs to the river, showing off their gorgeous bodies.  Ramon (who Mary thinks is 75) somewhere nearby.

A man in a very small dugout, a towel wrapped around his neck, an orange fishnet bunched behind him, paddled by.  Arturo stopped the motor for a photo of chestnut-eared acardis. 

It was so still, no birdsong, just the rasp of insects, and the humidity surrounded us.  Sunlight danced on the ripples where the river flowed over submerged branches.  Otherwise the river was a placid mirror.  I watched the reflections, flying on a giant bird between the vegetated rocks in the skies of Na’vi.

The Director’s House

Jim had a dozen guys, including our guides now, working on raising the wood framing for one wall. They were using three block-and-tackles that he had bought from a boat builder, specified for this load. 

The block-and-tackles had been positioned the other day in the surrounding trees by a guy who climbed up a tree 40 feet and balanced on thick vines.  (Well, Tarzan did it.) 

Half of the men pulled at the block and tackle as the others pushed three long poles on the other side.  Uno dos tres.  Uno dos tres.  While we watched it went from 60° to vertical.

Darn!  My camera battery just died.  A large orange butterfly languidly flitted over the site, landing twice on my shoulder.

OK – the frame was up.  The guys added temporary buttresses and they were done for the day.

Sergio told us (proudly?) that he had a red-faced monkey, the ones that look most human.  He said it was sold to him, probably from someone who shook it out of a tree.

The Bald Uakari is a small monkey with a very short tail, red face, a bald head, and long coat. It generally weighs less than 9 pounds and is anywhere from about 20 to 23 inches in length. There are four recognized subspecies of the Bald Uakari, each of which is considered vulnerable to extinction. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bald_Uakari

Boating back, which created a lovely breeze, we saw a two-foot iguana on a dead log above the water, with a red head and a green body.  A black-collared hawk posed for us, winged across the river and posed again.

Mary and Jim went to a “reunion” function in Nuevo Jerusalen in the afternoon, held in the school, which I begged out of, since it was to be all speeches in Spanish.  Time to catch up on my blogs.

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One Response to “Visiting the Construction”

  1. Jim Says:

    It was my experimental system of construction, using pulleys and leveraged poles, to hoist the walls up and bolt them together. It took 13 days to get all 4 walls up. The wood, quiosisa, is exceptionally heavy, strong, and water resistant. Abencio, the head of the crew was nearly killed, because one of the men let go of buttress to adjust another buttress. A shout saved his life by giving him just enough time to dodge the falling beam. He was shaken; and announced that this job is like war, and everyone must be alert. As everyone felt a sobering effect from this near catastrophy, most of joking was replaced by warning shouts, everytime they raised the wall higher. When this experimental building procedure proved a success, there was a sense of victory with cheering and laughing. Abencio estimated that the same work done conventionally would have take several months.

    What had seemed impossible to many of them, now stood as tribute to their hard work and perseverance. When I discovered the immense weight of the wood; I had my own doubts. I feared that the supporting trees might be pulled over by the pulleys; and that the pulleys much break. But by the end, the technique has been perfected; and the last wall went up like breeze.

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