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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Camping in the Amazon

There was much thunder and lightning in the storm that passed by last night.  When we awoke we were told that overnight a giant anaconda – probably 25 to 30 feet had come down the small stream and cut giant holes in the fishing nets.  Wilder saw the monster’s tail as it swam away at 3am.  Knowing Wilder he was probably trying to catch it.  Apparently scientists used to believe that reptiles grew to a certain size depending on their variety.  So a such and such boa would be between 4 to 5 feet fully grown and so forth.  However the monster sizes they reach in the Amazon has convinced them that reptiles grow bigger till they die.  Yikes!

Meanwhile Juan Carlos and Wilder went out to retrieve one of the canoes that had floated down stream in the storm.  They brought back another pet for us to play with.

Then it was time to let him go.

Then we were off on a three hour hike through the jungle to Lake Yarinah.  Idea was to camp there overnight.  We all made it there.

Along the way we saw s Pigmy Marmoset – the smallest primate on the planet.

Photo Courtesy of John Coffey

At one point Wilder cut open a small coconut like nut to find a black weevil larvae.  He swore it was good to eat – which might have been a stretch.  So Mike gave it a try.  He said it tasted squirty.  Eeew.

And when we got to the lake we saw these prehistoric birds called Hoatzin.  They don’t have a gullet, they have a stomach like a mammal and they are born with claws on the tips of their wings.

Photo courtesy Mike Sanderson

The guides had accidentally forgotten the cooking pots.  Ooops.  So all our “backup food” like pasta and rice were not going to be useful – making it important to catch fish that we could smoke on the fire.  Alas the guides only managed to catch one fish.  In addition, there was no way to boil water.  Juan Carlos had a solution to this – to drink the untreated water which he said was fine because it was “black water” - meaning it was relatively clear.  Juan Carlos chopped some tree bark and made us all drink a few drops of the red water he squeezed out of it – telling us it had antibiotic properties that would make drinking the water ok.  We were a bit leery of this whole water business, but fortunately John had some water purification tablets in his pack that we could use instead.  In the picture below which was taken at the lodge you can see the “black” water from the stream as it meets the muddy water on the Amazon river tributary.

In the end, only Mike and Holly decided to stay overnight.  John, Melissa, and Dave all hiked back to the lodge.  Sleeping on the ground with one fish between us for dinner just didn’t sound like such a great idea to us.  So we decided to split up and have some of us head back to where there would be soft beds and plenty of food.

Along the way Juan Carlos spotted a ocelot, but none of the rest of us was quick enough to see it.  At one point he whispered, “Everybody freeze!” and we all stopped dead in our tracks.  He had spotted a 6 foot whip snake only a few feet off the trail right beside Melissa and Dave.  Juan Carlos and Alex took off after it running as fast as they could go through the woods trying to catch it.  That snake moved like lightning and managed to escape.  We made the hike back out in two hours because we were really hustling to make it back out by dark.  We were told the 5 hours round trip was the longest day hike any gringos had ever made here at the lodge.  Most people get to the lake so exhausted they figure there is no way they could hike back out so they stay overnight whether it looks appealing or not. 

What we learned the next day when Wilder, Holly, and Mike hiked out was that a jaguar had been tracking us on the way out.  She was a mom with two babies and apparently she followed us to make sure we wouldn't hurt her children.  We never saw her, but Wilder found her tracks the next day. 

Alas when we arrived at the lodge we discovered that the water pump wasn’t working, so there were no showers!  So instead of showers we sat around drinking passion fruit juice mixed with the jungle rum we had the night before.

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