Day 9 – Laws of the Jungle
It appears that the first law of the Jungle has to do with humidity. As the sun rises, I push back the sliding door to my cabin, camera in hand and immediately, the lens is as fogged as it would have been had I come in from the cold on some northern journey. My glasses are entirely steamed. Not to be deterred and in the hope that the lens in my camera will clear instantaneously, I take “fog” pictures of a father and son working from a wooden boat as they lift the fine lines and try to disentangle fish. Farther from shore, the Maranon rolls on while larger boats fight the current as they travel upstream.
We are in the skiff by 7am headed for the place in the jungle that will allow a bird’s eye view of the ecosystem. We are surrounded by the sounds of the early morning. Coming ashore at a research centre that has taken over the site of an old hotel, we trample through what looks like the recycling station for a good sized community. The landing is strewn with boxes and containers of all kinds, filled with parts and pieces, ready to go by river to Iquitos for recycling. There are nuts, large bolts, light fixtures, and old air conditioners. Everything is moving on to a new life.
At the beginning of the trail that hugs a large decaying building, two macaws, apparently the stations “pets” sit near the top of a tall tree. They are close up and almost standing still, so what if they are back lit. How could I resist. Click! Click!
We are headed for Delfin Island that is two short catamaran rides and a million pesky mosquitoes away. I do my part on the second lagoon and can now say “I paddled the Amazon”. I am not prepared for what follows.
sounds and mosquito slaps, we sit down at a table set with white linens and table decorations. It’s breakfast! I listen to the sounds of the jungle, sip juice, and wonder.
Back in the boat we have one more short paddle across still water. Long nosed bats sleep on tree trunk in the middle of the lake. The sun is up. Butterflys and dragonflys buzz us. There is a twenty minute walk through the jungle. The path is narrow, and strewn with layers of leaves. Big arrows mark the way. I admit, this is really too funny for me! Arrows in the jungle? What about broken grasses and bent branches?
Part way through, one of our members has a medical emergency and sinks to the forest floor. We stand by anxiously as our paddler/paramedic takes his pulse. Thankfully, he rouses quickly and we move ahead slowly. The temperature is climbing. Leaves become fans.
We start into the canopy walk in threes. Each step reverberates through the wood, rope and cable structures. I look down and assume the netting is supposed to take over when the wooden slats fail. It is quiet except for our periodic expletives. There is something about wanting to hug a tree when you finally reach each platform. We are 85 feet above the jungle floor. The walk stretches for a bouncy third of a mile through a “terra firma” forest, meaning that the forest does not flood in the wet season. The canopy walkway stretches between fourteen of this forest’s largest trees. Vines fit for Tarzan twist their way down to the canopy floor. Birds and flowers are oddly missing.
Like birds on the trail of breadcrumbs, we march in single file over the root strewn terrain, following the arrows, back to Tawampa Lake. We are surrounded by butterflys again as we retrace our path across the still water. White, mottled brown, yellow, they are all around us. A blue Morpho flutters in the distance. On shore, ants have taken over what was originally envisioned as a handrail for a rough part of the trail. Now, yellow birds and red flowers light the way. Dragonflies are everywhere. And of course there is an opportunity to capture one more blurry kingfisher!
At our final landing, there are kids and crafts. We give them gifts. They sing for us. Cognitive dissonance sets in when purchasing crafts in the jungle from a lady with a cell phone. I tell myself that I am probably just jealous as I fear her cell service is probably better than mine at home. There I have to stand at the end of my driveway to get a signal and I am only a short distance from town.
It’s 10:30 by the time we are back on board the Delfin. We head down stream, the current moving us along under fluffy white clouds. We have until 1:30 to watch the world go by as it is experienced here on the river. Pink dolphins leap. I control my need to run for the camera and just breathe.
The heat of the day saps my energy. The hand laundry is hanging off the chairs on our balcony and flapping in the breeze as we continue our journey. Carol and I retreat to the AC and our beds for a siesta. What are we eighty? I try journaling and drawing but it doesn’t last long.
At four, it’s a bit cooler. Slathered with sunscreen and mosquito repellent we head down a stream called Nauto Cano in search of monkeys, caimans, and owls.
Capuchin and Spider monkeys infest the trees and eventually we have clear views of their bandit like faces. They swing from branch to branch, they hang, they chatter. It’s our own private show, or so it seems. This is way cool….yet again.
Light rain, brings out our ponchos. Herons accompany us as we head home into a pink and blue sunset. The light rain turns to a downpour. Sitting in the bow seat, means getting lashed as we move forward but after all this is the rainforest!
Back on board, the laundry has been freshly rinsed. The lights of the town of Nauta shine on the far shore.
We have a 5:30 wake up for tomorrow morning so no one lasts much past supper. From today I will remember experiencing a bird’s eye view of the jungle, monkeys at play, water running into my shoes and the taste of the Amazon rain.
Photos courtesy of E Sayers: Ponchos, Me on the canopy walk, Breakfast in the jungle.