So after that tremendous first full day on the Amazon and its tributaries, I didn’t think our naturalists could top it. It is always a toss up. Its nature; you never know what you will see. The schedule changed a bit today. There was no early morning tour, but instead of breakfast aboard the Amazon Aria we headed straight out with a promise of breakfast on the river.
Early morning is a great time to be out with everything coming to life along the river. The cool breeze that passes through the boat is refreshing.
The morning was filled with more exotic bird finds. The beauty of the Amazon in the morning really came to life when we got the lead boat position. We had the opportunity to see the still, glasslike water of the PA Reserve completely undisturbed.
This morning we spotted several villages along the Amazon and families going about their daily routine. Although the larger villages have elementary schools (always a blue building), many have been underwater for most of the wet season and they are just drying out so the children will be heading back to school soon. We saw children out in the canoes fishing and they often gave us a friendly wave.
When the restaurant staff caught up with us, we enjoyed a fabulous breakfast tray complete with poached eggs with avocado, fruit salad, muffin, tea or coffee, and fresh squeezed juice right at our seats in the skiffs. Delicious and fun.
After breakfast, we headed off into a side lake with more water lettuce and tall grasses. One of our naturalists, Billy, appeared to be on a mission. Billy was always looking for the really cool stuff. Last night he was the one showing us the spiders and tarantulas and told us how rare it was to see those large schools of catfish at night. It came as no surprise that Billy was the one to find and get out of the tall grass our first anaconda of the trip. It is no easy feat getting it out of the water. He had spotted one yesterday, but it went under water before we got close enough to reach it.
Anyone that wanted a chance got to hold the anaconda. I was a little skeptical, but Leslie, one of four Brits on board, said I should come up with him to take a turn. Staff held the head, Leslie had the tail. I got my photo. They brought the two ends pretty close to my face. The also had the snake along my back and I could feel it squeezing me. Not the most attractive photo, but it sure is funny. The video is even better; you can see the reaction grow. So glad I took the chance.
Boris didn’t take a turn, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t one with nature. He was the lucky recipient of a landing yesterday. He spent most of his afternoon skiff ride with a cricket sitting on his life preserver. Not be be outdone, today he once again found a friend that wanted to go along for the ride. He had both a before breakfast cricket, and an after breakfast one. Other boats would come up along side us just to see what animal had attached itself to Boris that day.
After a morning like that it was time for a break. We headed back to the Aria for lunch and to rest up before our afternoon jungle walk. We will have the opportunity to see some of the local villagers and purchase some of their handicrafts. There was a pretty heavy rain during the break and I was glad we were back on the ship.
After the return of the sun, it was even more hot and humid for our late afternoon jungle walk. The children who greeted us were delightful. They loved to be photographed and shown the pictures on your camera. They played with a single balloon and were enchanted. A local guide led us to the jungle walk path. The villagers had cut up tree trunks to set round steps. It was very slippery after the afternoon rain and it was an up and down trail that was a little challenging for me. I fell down the stairs in our home a few months ago, so the fear is probably more in my head than realistic. Actually the heat probably bothered me more. I was completely drenched when we finished.
We were with Roland and he took us up a secondary path to see a rubber tree (few and far between these days). The trees were marked with red and periodically during the day the worker had to return to move the spigot to a different part of the tree. It was very labor intensive work.
We had a local guide who found lots of interesting frogs for us in the jungle, along with a large tarantula. He worked with his machete, or his “second wife” as Billy likes to refer to these blades. We found out he is 80 years old. His hair is perfectly black and he moved with ease within the jungle. He put me to shame.
In addition to the rubber trees, there was other interesting trees. Some appeared to have multiple trunks (they grow that way naturally). There was another with lots of needles. The needles on the lower part of the trunk had been removed. These are the needles the villagers formerly used inside their blow guns. When he was growing up, Ricardo’s grandmother still had her blowgun in her room. All of the naturalists grew up in the Amazon.
We retuned to the Aria in time to catch the beautiful Amazon sunset. I was another amazing day along the Amazon River. And yes, today was all about Natasha and the Anaconda. Until tomorrow…