It’s another good day in the rainforest. It’s also another hot day but I’m finally getting used to the heat. I learned a lot from my friend the sloth the other night; move slow and don’t do much. And I thought that’s how today was going to go as the hike we had planned looked fairly simple. And in reality it was, but something slowed me down a bit.
Today was, however, an early day. Up at 6:45am, I recorded some of the awesome bird calls heard in the morning. The videos are too large to post here, but if you’re interested in them just email me. It was a 25 minute boat ride down river this time. I’m really enjoying spending time on the Rio Madre de Dios (Mother of God River) even with its silt brown look from the recent rains. For one thing, there’s a breeze when we are in the boat. And there’s something for me about being on rivers, big and small. It more than stirs something inside me, it really ignites something and connects me more to the world around. As goofy as that may sound, that’s what rivers do for me.
I was with the Zabrokwsis again as well as Caesar, our ever willing and very knowledgeable guide. The hike through the jungle was slated for about 2 miles and promised more activity than Lake Sandoval as we had an early start. Right from the word, “go” I was feeling abnormally slow. I’m not sure what it was, but the heat did seem more intense (we later learned it had topped 36C or 97F that day!) and the lack of any wind in the jungle had me sweating. I also had a little trouble breathing and was thankful for the many stops to examine flora and fauna.
Our first stop was at a huge fichus tree with vines growing all over it. As you can see from the picture, these trees spread their trunks out wide and fan like for stability when the rains come and make the ground mush. The vines usually grow from the top to bottom, depending on the vine. The kids had a fun time but I wasn’t feeling like climbing at this point. Later on, when I felt a little better, I did do some Tarzan vine climbing and even swung from one to the other. It was a lot of fun and I’ll let you imagine it was as graceful as in the movies. 🙂
We pass communities of spiders in giant webs. I’d include a photo but it’s very hard to see any of them. Sometimes they’d block the trail and if not for Caesar, I’m sure I’d have walked into them Indiana Jones style. More monkeys are spotted in the tree and Caesar explains what I learned my first day about how fire ants will clear away a four foot diameter around a tree in a symbiotic relationship. And this time we notice a tree frog hanging out, very uncharacteristically, in the middle of the day right in the middle of the trail.
We reach the end of our hike where a pair of canoes are waiting for us. At first I thought we’d have to paddle, which was fine with me, but our guide, who’s name I can’t remember, did all the work. In Gamitana creek there are piranha and anacondas as well, although we don’t see any right away. Then we are told we’ll be fishing for them!
Stopping in a large eddy on the creek, Caesar gives us each a bamboo pole and line and five chunks of meat to go fishing. I get a lot of nibbles but can’t land anything. It’s ok, the heat isn’t as bad now and we’re in no apparent hurry. Meagan finally catches a fish and lets it go. Scott provides entertainment by falling in the creek and frantically scrambling back out as I’m sure images of his legs getting bitten off raced through his head. It’s a good thing we don’t have to survive on our skills alone!
Floating the creek with just the other adults (the kids aren’t bad at all, but they’re still kids!) and having a chance to relax, I was able to take in the jungle with most of my senses. The rustle of wind through the trees causes the large leaves to slap together, some floating through the air to gently splash into the water. Always something is moving, almost to the point of giving my eyes sensory overload. My shirt is covered in sweat but feels cool against my skin, finally. Not the suffocating appeal it had before. And the smell of rotting vegetation is everywhere, mixed with a hidden melody of flowers here and there. I say most of my senses because I’m not brave enough to taste anything around me!
We make another stop to do some swimming and good golly! is it ever nice. The water is perfect and the creek bottom is a nice moosh in places with a layer of the leaves that fall from the surface. Caesar and the other guide set up a rope swing for us after the Zabrokwskis make the river bank into a slip and slide, Romancing the Stone style (do I get points for THREE movie references in one post?). The kids had a blast while their parents kept taking pictures of the high flying action. From here we jumped into the one power boat to make it back in time for lunch, having worked up quite an appetite.
Back at the lodge I chill for a while and then meet every one in the main hall for a rematch of Hearts and a fun dinner as intermission. Now that I have the rules down and purchase more wine, the game isn’t so hard. Basically you sit back and let the Zabrowskis fight it out. At least that’s why Caesar and I made it as far as we did. In the end I squeaked into the lead and was vindicated from the night before with a late night victory. Matt and Kristi, I still have the score card but haven’t framed it yet. 🙂