Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Amazonia Expeditions... day 3!

Feb 26th.

After another great sleep, I am up early and raring to go .

Our journey begins with a 6:15 speedboat departure.  We travel up (down?) river +/- 30 minutes, then transfer to canoe.   Whenever we get where we are going (much trust involved here) we will hop out and it will be a rubber boots required situation.

  It is a great monkey sighting day, starting when Gerlo recognizes the sound of a baby calling out to it's mother.  Mama and baby are on opposite sides of the river, and the babe sounds in distress.  We follow mama in and find her troupe, which is traveling together with a troupe of a different kind of monkey.  Gerlo easily recognizes them, but I can't for the life of me remember the names.

 More beautiful birds, monkeys and some really ugly spiders (um, yay?).  No snakes. Lizards yes, ants (leaf cutter and fire), and giant millipedes too.

Much of the area we walk through is blanketed with pretty lilac lilies.  It is interesting to see the tropical plants in their REAL setting... no spritzing and pampering required.  Ferns abound and I see bushes that look like the Oregon grape we have at home.

It is amazing to see the massive ant and termite nests built on the tree trunks.  Several times Gerlo reminds me not to touch certain trees, as they exist in harmony with the fire ants... and apparently they will attack if me if I make the mistake of bothering the tree.

We are again traveling with Marsielle, an aboriginal local guide, who has kind eyes and a fun sense of humour.  He speaks the local dialect, and castilliano.   No english but we seem to get on well.  Gerlo makes a great interpreter as well as being a superb guide.

Our monkey search continues, which involves much looking up. They can really only be located by watching for tree movement as they jump from one branch to another, and then following along.

Monkeys leave quite a trail to follow, with discarded Ice cream fruit pods and other small berries and fruit pits. The ice cream fruit tastes like cotton candy... although I am warned l not to swallow the large black pods inside.  It is their fuzzy outer layer that is edible and I find it easiest to just to use my tongue to separate them. (The pods / seeds inside will make a human quite ill). There is a small yellow fruit (like a tiny apricot) that is particularly delicious, with an addictive sweet/tart taste.

After a satisfying bushwhack, we eat a well deserved brunch (11ish) and then climb back into the waiting canoe. I pause and think that it is a good thing that the canoe is where we left it, untied...

We return to the research station for a rest.  I strip off for a nearly nude nap (it is sweltering) and find a little red tick making it's way up my tummy.  ICK.  Squish.  Sleep claims me for an hour or so and I am a bit groggy when lunch is called.  At this point I am still feeling full from brunch, but the food is again delicious and I manage to eat.

Afternoon finds us back on the water.  We upset a troupe of monkeys (bushy black with brown faces... big tails, spider monkeys I think.) and their leader aggressively tries to scare us away by jumping up and down in the trees and screeching at us.  Way cool.

We get another glimpse of a pigmy marmoset. They are so tiny and cute. I can see why monkey smuggling is a big industry.

As usual we are following no particular trail. We glide through trees and duck under bushes. Gerlo makes ample use of his machete to carve a path and spiders fall into the canoe as he does.  I provide entertainment as I try and scoop them all out and over the side.

We see beautiful neon red & black birds and brown & orange birds with red heads. Amazonian kingfishers fly bye.  Gerlo says he will make an ornithologist of me yet. Probably not with my memory...

We were very quiet trying to locate things by sound, and in the background there is loud, echoing plopping sounds as fruit drop from the trees into the water.  Haunting.  On the tree trunks sit huge small bodied but long, skinny legged spiders, camouflaged to exact bark colour.

We made it home before the rain... Edgar the pet alligator was waiting

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