Day 10- Lily Pads and Umbrellas
I can almost guarantee if I’m in bed before nine, my body will want to get up long before it should. Surely that is my excuse for falling into the toilet around 2 am.
By 5 the sun is beginning to rise over the treetops making an beautiful display across the river. This morning, my mobility is fueled by black coffee and two Oreos. Who knew this could be the breakfast of champions!
The forest is alive with chirps this morning…sounds of life that I cannot identify but only appreciate for their freshness and implicit joy. The mist is rising over the grasslands and again the local people are working their lines. Pop bottles act like floats and are hauled into the boats along with the nets and the catch of the day. A Caracara perches precariously on a gunnel. The sounds are of the awakening of the day include the pulsing sound of the small engines that propel some of the fishing skiffs.
The diversity of the bird life continues to captivate me despite my poor vision and the fact that everyone of them seems to be back lit or flying against the dark forest. Both conditions continue to make photography a challenge. The little black ones, and the big black ones mix in with the colourful yellow-breasted something that sits high on a tree. The winter months back home will provide ample time to deepen my appreciation of all that is around me at this moment.
We pass grand entrances to wilderness lodges as we make our way to our first landing. Some of these places welcome people who come to experience the enlightenment of Ayahausca ceremonies. This native plant has hallucinogenic properties and causes fits of vomiting. I think I shall remain ignorant.
Hanging nests of the Orapendula decorate a paper tree. The birds with their distinctive yellow tails and characteristic call, sit high up. The first Kingfisher of the day flashes past. A black-necked hawk watches from his perch on a broken palm branch. Morning glory vines lay in tangled masses over downed trees with amputated limbs. A tree rat peers at me from the safety of his woodpecker-like home.A flock or a gaggle or a platoon…. what ever one is supposed to call more than one parrot….dive bomb from a high limb. This jungle is a busy place!
After a full breakfas, (Oreos can only take one so far!) we head for the far shore to find the landing for a walk to a pond of giant lily pads. An old man in a fishing skiff hugs the shore. A “hola” brings a toothless grin in the shade of a baseball cap. The sky is clear. Toucans rest on the branches above my head.
At the landing, the skiff is rammed ashore, dislodging some steps in the process. While it is being held against the bank by the engine, we disembark onto slippery, slanted, wooden steps. As we head down the trail, we are met by a man carrying a 70-pound bag of rice that he will plant and reap before the wet. The fact that life is not easy here is reinforced once again.
Before long, the path skirts the end of a pond that is blanketed with giant lily pads. Their platform-like leaves are rippled greens and purples and are accompanied by elegant pink lilies and buds bursting to open. Someone has built benches. With parakeets providing background music, it is a great place to ponder the many marvels of the Amazon.
As we watch and listen, the moment is superceded by the arrival of forty, yes, forty travelers from the Delfin II. It is a vessel currently being used by National Geographic and with which we have been playing leapfrog all week. There is a not so subtle difference between a group of eight and a group of forty, but here we all are, experiencing, and trying to understand the planet.
When we get back on board, the Delfin I is tied to the shore on the backside of a village of some three hundred persons. From our vantage point, there appear to be about four families living in humble homes. Small children play at the water’s edge, in and out of boats half full of water. Their older brothers, fish and bail and show us their catch. We provide cokes.
Around four we head past the “Carlos”. It is a decommissioned and disintegrating cargo carrying riverboat that now acts as a ferry terminal. We turn right into a channel leading to a lake where the water is fresh enough for swimming. Unfortunately, while others played, I had to stay onboard as I knew I would not be able to negotiate the narrow rungs on the ladder and would probably have to live there….in the water I mean.
As the swimmers floated around on noodles, the locals moved past on the way to the Carlos with umbrellas aloft to ward off the sun. We move in the opposite direction in search of sloth and monkeys. The monkeys were well hidden in the trees so we just watched as Ringed Hawks and Black Ani circled above.
High cumulus clouds rise above the river and pinks and oranges appear over the jungle as the sun goes down. More Pisco Sours are consumed in preparation for dinner. The crew gets the ship underway and several hours later, under the glow of its spotlights, the Delfin I heads into the shore and we tie off to a tree on the bank for the night.