This is Part 2 of a three-part series. Click HERE to read Part 1.
Day 3: Entering the Rainforest
This morning we gathered our belongings and set out for the port, where we had a bit of time to kill before our boat arrived. We saw more grilled and roasted meats for sale, and a few things I wasn’t nervy enough to try. Like these grubs.
When our tiny boat arrived, we hoisted our camera bags and purses and clambered aboard single file, so as not to capsize the whole thing! There’s my colleague Scott at the back, because he isn’t getting out at our first stop…
On the way to our rainforest lodge, we visited a wildlife rehabilitation center commonly called the Snake House. I’ve told you how Scott feels about snakes, and there were several others who simply were NOT entering this place, no matter what! So they missed holding the sloth! (This is an optical illusion, Kuniko didn’t actually kiss it!)
And they didn’t get to see this little bitty monkey catching and eating wasps!
And the folks on the boat didn’t get to see this juvenile anaconda wrap itself around my neck! I don’t have a photo of the first snake I held, a boa constrictor, which tried to bite my face (unsuccessfully, as I had a good grip on its head). Even after that, though, I wasn’t going to miss the chance to hold this gorgeous river dweller. The sight of this photo makes poor Scott gag.
The Snake House fellow held the head while Michael and I stretched the snake out to admire its length. Our coordinator, Claudio, took a deep breath and dared to touch the anaconda’s tippy tail. Then he shuddered and giggled and ran away. I was really proud of him, especially after I failed to hold that rhino beetle on the Day 2.
We cruised along and all stopped to visit the Bora Tribe, a family group that lives upriver, but comes daily to perform for visitors and educate travelers about their culture. Here is the chief, in their glorious gathering hut.
The kids were adorable, and my traveling companion, Fiorella, won their favor by showing them the pictures she took of them with her iPhone. The Bora women all wore these hand-beaded tops, made entirely from seeds and fibers found in the jungle, and colored with plant-based dyes. I bought one for myself, and Scott joked that I was likely the only tourist who had ever purchased one who could just wear it around town (Key West sees ALL kinds of everyday costumes).
We arrived at our gorgeous lodge, with bright, airy (fully screened-in) private cabins for each of us. The big dining room featured an observation tower and great views of the grounds, forest, and river.
There were so many beautiful types of flowers and mushrooms on the property. This photo is a collage, and is not to scale.
We put away our things and geared up for a Rainforest hike. The lodge loaned rubber boots to those who didn’t bring any, because the ground is soggy. Carlos thinks Scott looks dashing!
I have a fascia injury, so have to wear my own special shoes. So I just taped my foot tight, and braved the mud. Eldon and Myron were sweet and escorted me across a big puddle.
Then Eldon went above and beyond and carried Luis across!
We walked to the village where the Jibaro Tribe lives. Myron shared this photo of the chief’s hut.
The chief showed us his handmade blowdart gun. The darts were made of palm frond spines with a bit of cotton fluff wrapped around the ends. For hunting, they would be dipped in a toxic plant extraction, or frog secretion. The chief demonstrated the shooting technique by hitting the small wooden dummy squarely in the gut (looking closely, you’ll see his name is Chulla Chaqui, the demon shape-shifter).
They offered us a chance to try, and I hit the mark with both darts! So after much debate about airport security, I decided to buy one for Zach. I bought the nicest one they had for sale, decorated with anaconda skin and puma fur, with a hand-beaded strap. I felt very tough traipsing through the Amazon Rainforest, face painting courtesy of the little girls of the Jibaros.
After a delicious dinner, several of us went out on a night cruise, away from any habitation. We turned off our motor and had 5 minutes of silence in the moonlight, though I wished for an hour. I’ll never forget the sounds of the frogs calling to each other high in the trees, and the insects clicking and squeaking across the wide river. Michael took this photo of the impenetrably dark forest at the water’s edge.
Then it was off to bed to get plenty of sleep before our 4 am bird-watching boat ride the next morning!
To be continued…
HE Travel Media Assistant
You can also read Sara’s account of her 2012 adventure in the Grand Canyon HERE.