I slept with a light on until I was 11 or so because I was afraid of the dark (still haven’t really out grown that) but I took a night hike in the middle of the Amazon jungle. Normally when I see a cockroach I stand halfway across the room spraying Raid and can’t even deal with the dead body but I learned to search my bed for cockroaches before getting into bed tucking my mosquito net all the way around. And normally I don’t like to swim in water I can’t see thru but things are different in the Jungle! Including me, I guess!
At first, I just thought “huh…this is the amazon?” I guess I had expectations I didn’t know I had. One thing did match my expectations though…it was HOT!!! So hot that as soon as we arrived at our ‘lodge’ we all went straight to naps in hammocks, a pattern repeated out of necessity every afternoon.
While napping you still sweat so when we woke we went out for a late afternoon swim in a lagoon. After we got out I saw the guide of another boat holding something he had just pulled out of the water!
It’s called a belt snake, I guess cuz they are so long an skinny. Regardless, I didn’t like thinking it was in the water with me. Oh how little I knew! The next day, just around the corner (maybe 20 meters) from this exact swimming location we went fishing!
For these suckers!
I caught this one:
And this one:
And 5 others! I was on fire! But later that day I got a good dose of humility to match that. We went for a hike and learned about trees and bugs and such we found. At one point in the hike we had to cross this:
This is just the first section. So, look real close…can you see the log they are walking on? YEAH, neither could I! I was at the very back of the line. The guide had crossed it all and pointed out the log here and there to walk on so you didn’t fall into the knee and at times thigh high mud. I was miserable at it! Sometimes I would find this supposed log only to realize it was barely a branch. Other times I couldn’t find the darn thing at all and would slip and slide into mud that might swallow my boot and not give it back! But the absolute best part was when everyone had all barely made it across and I am the only one remaining. This time I can feel the branch but it is about 8-10 inches under water and slippery and a long stretch with nothing to hold on to. My friend is saying “just don’t fall to the left, it’s really deep on that side.” Ok, fine but there are now 8 people just watching me. I begin to side step my way across but my mental focus slips to them watching me as I begin to loose my balance and a choir of voices begins to sing ‘whoa…whoa…whoa’, matching their pitch to my flailing arms and teetering body. I scream “THAT ISN’T HELPING!” which makes us all laugh and down I go into the mud, again
We were all just happy I landed on my feet instead of face planting into the mud. It was one of those times I am so glad I have learned to laugh at myself! (I so wish I had that on video to share! What I sight!)
Here are some highlights from the hike other than me falling in the mud (which honestly, was probably everyone’s highlight!)
Next day, another canoe ride 2 1/2 hours deeper into the jungle to visit a community. On the way there, we stop along the river where a 6-7 meter long anaconda is said to live. The guide doesn’t see him from the shore so he gets out to take a look around. Someone on the boat says “Well, it’s a good thing you have that oar then!” And it hits us that he is just a dude with an oar looking for a huge snake! These guides are crazy!
At the community we learned to make bread from Yucca in this family kitchen.
After bread baking, there was in impromptu game of Soccer between the tourists and the locals! It was a rather surreal experience but what topped it off was Nacho!
He was crawling around on everyone’s laps, wrapping his hand around our fingers or his tail on our legs. I have never hung out with a monkey before. It is truly amazing how like a child they are. At one point, he had his hand on my leg, his head on my shoulder and his tail around my back. So cute!
But no visit to an Amazonian jungle community is complete without a visit to the Shaman, and ours was no exception!
This man is 96! Imagine how much has changed in his lifetime living in the fairly remote jungle that now has cell phones and solar panels!
Later that night, as we were coming back from quite an adventure (tomorrow’s blog will tell of it!) we were blessed with a bright full moon just barely above the horizon silhouetting the trees on our left and three separate lightening storms in the distance on our right with a completely clear sky above us full of stars as we floated down the river with only the music of bugs and birds. It was surreal and one of the most beautiful moments of my life.
Tomorrow- Part 2: The jungle at night!