Friday, August 23, 2019

VII - When in the Amazon

VII - Jungle Hike

When one thinks of the Amazon, 2 things come to mind - lots of water and the jungle. Our first hike into the jungle was quite the adventure. Dick procured us a local guide. So all of us, our guide, and his machete loaded into the pangas and set out for the jungle.

The guide had told us that we had a 5 minute boat ride to reach the path. The 5 minute ride became a 25 minute ride. I feared we were on our way to a "3 Hour Tour" just without the Professor and Mary Ann. We were moving very slowly through trees and bushes. The river was at a record 10 feet over normal when we were there.

This part of the jungle reminded me a lot of the cypress swamps in South Carolina I have spent many an hour paddling through on my kayak. But, just the thought of this being the 'jungle' brought about a sense of wonder. I expected to see a Cayman lurking about, an Anaconda in the water, monkeys frolicking about, or (my greatest fear) snakes hanging from the trees.

The boats moved quietly through the water with only the low hum of the trolling motors. There were bird calls and chirps which, naturally, Tracey could immediately identify. Then there were things in nature I had never seen. Like giant wasp nests on the sides of trees.

Finally we turned toward the bank and our guide announced we had reached our destination. We climbed out of the boats and followed the guide, single file, on what looked more like a slight opening in the growth, rather than a trail. The guide cleared a walk-able path with his machete. We moved slowly, no one knowing what to expect. John (I'll tell you more about him later) was quick to identify most of the flora, often muttering to himself whether is was this species or that. It was Greek to me.

I was third in line so I had a clear vision of the guide making his way. Suddenly he stopped and held his machete up, indicating we needed to stop. Then he yelled 'Cobra!' I don't know my snakes but I do now there are no 'Cobras' on the South American continent. A fellow traveler behind me, whose fluency in Spanish helped him understand a bit of Portuguese, said, "They call any snake here a 'cobra'." Well that was a relief - I guessed.

After a huddle of Tracy, the guide, and John around said snake, it was determined it was a Bushmaster - a very poisonous snake. Move along, nothing to see here. We had not gone much further when the guide stopped and turned back to us. He indicated the brush was too thick to get through. We would need to retrace our steps, return to the boats, and go a little further down the bank, just 5 minutes or so. Right!

It was determined we best just return to our boat. So, once again, we made our way back along the '5 minute' route. Along the way, we saw otters (much larger than those in the states), various birds, what someone identified as a Cayman but no one else witnessed.

      As a note: The snake was later identified by picture as not a Bushmaster after all, but some other venomous snake. In my mind a venomous snake is a venomous snake - Just Saying.

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