Day 12 – Cruising the Amazon
This is the 6th day on the Amazon River system. It’s Saturday 5:15 am. The Delfin I is nose into the long grass. As on every other day here, my glasses steam up when I exit the cabin in anticipation of taking a shot. This time there are of two Yellow-headed Caracara sitting on the tall reeds.
By 6:00 we are in the skiff following the Rio Zapato in search of the large black bushy saki or flying monkey. Black Ani watch from the branches of the paper trees. Cormorants pass in flights much like the v-formation of Canada Geese. Bunches of bright red bromelia look like nests in notches far up the tree trunks. The folks from Delfin II are fishing in still water.
As we move upstream, the river gets more and more narrow. Light pink water hyacinths float like candles on the water. Twenty pairs of eyes are constantly scanning the trees in search of wildlife of any kind. The birds are frequently back lit and I find it hard to see colours but I am getting better at identification by shape. Toucans and parrots are easy! A scarlet tanager flits by. Even if one is not a “birder”, in a place like this, it is hard not to be drawn in by their diversity and beauty.
Despite our constant group scan, no sloths are found. A Saki or equatorial flying monkey sits high in the canopy, his bushy tail swinging in the breeze. He takes a flying leap, and I have blurry proof of his effort. Waves of birds keep coming. The black-necked hawks are back. Deep in the trees, the branches sway and squirrel monkeys jump limb to limb. It’s play day!
I have the recorder with me again today but there is not enough close up jungle chatter to warrant trying to tape. The voices of the wilderness are best at dawn and dusk. Strangely, those are the times that our group is most quiet.
On our way back to the ship, we pull into the shore to visit a fishing village. The majority of the homes are down a trail, deeper in the forest and safer from the river’s flooding. But the word is soon out that we have landed and instantaneously and somewhat magically, a group of women and children erect a market in a grove of trees. Necklaces and purses made of seeds are soon hanging for our perusal and purchase. The older children help their mothers and the younger ones look at us with wide eyes.
I wander from stall to stall, looking at the wares and wondering who to buy from. Who has already had a sale and who is still hopeful? I find a small purse made from seeds of various sizes and another bracelet. Both items show the creativity and perseverance of the craftsman. They will remind me of this day. As I make my purchases a little girl looks on. She has strabismus and I wonder if she will ever be able to have her vision corrected. She and other kids seem to smile in a sad sort of way. They are quiet but somehow seem filled with questions.
Back on board we sit topside hoping for a breeze and watching clouds roll by. Short “puffs” of rain freshen the light wind. River traffic moves up and down stream. Today umbrellas work for both sun and rain. I see farmers on shore flailing rice. It’s hard at this moment to imagine the river and its accumulation of debris running like this for 4000 km to the Atlantic Ocean.
At our request meals have been cut back in quantity to prevent waste but nonetheless our lunch includes a fish and banana appetizer, a duck and rice main dish and cherry jelly with mango sauce, chocolate cake chunks and apple in mango cream for dessert. I should be made to swim home!
Resting from the heat of midday is mandatory and works well in that it provides time to reposition the ship. From the comfort of my cabin I watch the storm clouds pass. As we are moving downstream now, we once again pass Requena before heading for shore. By late afternoon the temperature begins to drop and we head up Supay Creek in the skiff. Here the rising river waters are clearly infiltrating the forest as the rain in the high Andes makes its way to the sea. Trees that would have had dry feet yesterday, have wet ones today. One can almost see the water rise.
Again I am inundated with new bird species. A chocolat “something” and a “red –breasted “whatchamacolit” zip by with a throaty call and a rush of wings. Really, I have so much work to do with a bird book when I get home!
There are a number of lodges on this creek and I see visitors hanging out on the verandas. There is little time to stare and no time to stop as we race to beat the rain back to the ship.
By 8:15 I’m in my pj’s, ensconced on my bed, busily writing journal notes. The cameras are outside sleeping under a towel! I join them in the sleeping part!