Natasha Goes Swimming in the Amazon

Swimming in the Amazon River. The brave members of our party who jumped in. Photo by Ricardo

More than anything else I heard from friends when I announced I was going to Peru, and in particular cruising along the Amazon, was don’t get in the water. No hands, no feet, and certainly no one had even contemplated that we might swim in the Amazon. Defying the odds, that is exactly what I did. Our naturalists knew where to take us and once I understood the difference between the black and muddy water, I figured they knew where it was safe to jump in. But I am getting ahead of myself…

We are all a little worried about Joe who decided to “kiss” the anaconda yesterday. He is out for the count, recovering from an allergic reaction. Photo by Ricardo.

We had a little bit of a scare yesterday after the anaconda photo session. One of the young guests, not only held, but kissed the anaconda. He was not at dinner last night and not at breakfast today. He had a strong allergic reaction. There is no way to know if it is the result of “the kiss”, but it is a coincidence if it is not.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Many things found on the ground in other parts of the world, are found on the trees in the Amazon. In particular, ant and anteater nests.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. I am used to seeing the crickets on Boris, but I spotted this on huge one among the water lettuce and tall grasses near our skiff.

Billy was hunting in the tall grasses again today, but this time we were looking at tarantulas and spiders. We were also reminded how different the life is for many of the animals who live in the rainforest. Their life is in the trees or on the plants since their world has a water bottom. Something you would expect to see on the ground in other parts of the world, is found here attached to a tree or a plant. The ant and anteater nests are a prime example.

With his telephoto lens, Ricardo was able to get some great pictures of the sloths. This adult is high in the trees

This was the morning of the sloths. While we had seen some each day, they were usually high in the trees. In other words, some distance away. Today, we got to see a juvenile of about 7 months old, up close. She was out on her own clinging to a tree. We were able to pull the boat right up next to her. But the coolest thing…she moved. It is everything you have heard. The movement is painstaking slow. I got a great video, but unfortunately this platform won’t support video. Just know that when I sent it to the animal expert in the family-Rocky-he was impressed. The movement is something you rarely get to witness up close, especially in the wild.

Up close and personal with the Juvenile sloth. Photo by Ricardo.
A closeup of the juvenile sloth. Photo by Ricardo.

Of course, we also saw some amazing birds that we hadn’t yet seen. It was just hard to top our girl the sloth and that up close and personal experience. The Amazon Aria provides their guests with a wildlife check list and I have started to mark off the different animals we have seen. By far the wide variety of bird species exceeds all others. More than the variety, these are birds we would never see at home and they are so beautiful and colorful. Even the nests are fascinating, particularly the weaver nests that hang from the trees.

Along the Amazon River. Photo by Ricardo.
Along the Amazon. Photo by Ricardo.

After a full morning it was back to the Aria for our break. This afternoon we are going into a village to see the weaving techniques. There will be a crafts market for us. More than anything else, it is the beautiful smiles on the faces of these remarkable children that stay with you long after your visit.

The beautiful children of the Amazon. Photo by Ricardo.
A beautiful child of the Amazon. Photo by Ricardo.

Wisely, we were asked to wear masks to protect the villagers. We saw a demonstration on how they use natural products to produce the various dyes used to color the straw that is then woven into wonderful products like baskets, napkin rings, and animal figures. There was also some wood carvings. I picked up the wonderful basket made by the young mom who did our demonstration and a figure of the wonderful Amazon Kingfisher that flies just above the surface of the water.

Photos ©Jean Janssen. All of the dyes used are made from natural products.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. We saw how each of the colors in this basket were produced from products gathered in the Amazon Rainforest.

We were also invited into a family kitchen, covered, but open-aired, and were shown how food is prepared in this environment. There is an outlet ready for when electricity finally makes it to the village. Part of the infrastructure is there but not the power. Billy showed us the Amazon’s version of a blender. Only hand power needed.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. An outlet in place in anticipation of power supply.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. Billy demonstrates the Amazon version of a blender.
Fish on the grill in the open air kitchen. Photo by Ricardo.

From inside the kitchen, I looked over at the patio next door and saw moms bathing their children in large plastic bins. I got a smile and a wave from the women. Everyone was very friendly. Carmen, one of our Brits joined in a pickup soccer/football game and Grace played volleyball with the children in the large open field. Football (soccer to Americans) is very popular all over South America. Most of the villages have large open areas for play.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Bath time in the village.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. Carmen joined in to play football (soccer) with the village children.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. Grace joined them for volleyball.

It was a marvelous visit that promoted support and understanding. The time spent with the people of the Amazon added another layer to our experience.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. A family of the Amazon
Photo ©Jean Janssen. The girl in the boat, the Amazon.

I am happy to report that the first person I saw when I returned to the ship was Joe. He is feeling much better and anticipates rejoining our activities tomorrow.

Photo by Ricardo.

About travelbynatasha

I am a retired attorney who loves to travel. Several years ago I began working on a Century Club membership achieved by traveling to 100 "foreign" countries. Today, at 49 years of age the count is at 82. Many were visited on land based trips. Some were cruise ports. Some were dive sites. Most have been fascinating.
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