Natasha goes Piranha Fishing in the Amazon

Natasha catches a Piranha. Photo by Ricardo

Today is the day. I have seen them. Saw their red bellies and their sharp teeth. I have even tested fate by swimming in their river. Today, Natasha is going to catch a piranha.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Easy to spot evidence that we are moving into the dry season in the Amazon
Photo ©Jean Janssen. We spotted a pair of dogs along the channels off the Amazon.

But fishing is for later in the morning…It is the final day of our Amazon River cruise and the naturalists are once again offering an early morning excursion. Not to miss the opportunity, I’m in. Boris slept in once again. There was only one skiff headed out with Billy for our early departure. We traveled down interesting channels off the river. It was kind of like the Venice of the Amazon (without the bridges, and the buildings, ok maybe not like Venice) and we were in rush hour traffic on the water. There were so many boats out and about. Farmers were headed to their newly emerged plots of land and children were headed to school

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Early morning ride to the channels just off the Amazon.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. Swimming to us.

We have gotten better about spotting and identifying the various bird and animal calls. We spent some time listening and then trying to find the animals we heard. We also saw a couple of dogs along the way. Two of our guests, Phil and Kathy, are service dog trainers. The dogs would show up periodically as we traveled down the channel. They appeared to be really struggling in the mud and were most likely separated from their owner. When they swam to us it was obvious they were being more than friendly; they needed help.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Billy with our tag alongs. Taking them home.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. Billy released the dogs when we reached the village.

Because he is naturally just a great guy, we had already almost completed our touring, and the fact that everyone on the boat was focused on the dogs, Billy pulled the two dogs aboard our skiff and held them at the front. They were shaking but also happy to be aboard. Billy knew of a nearby village and we asked people along the way and were able to confirm that the dogs’ owner lived in the village. At the edge of the village, Billy released the dogs and they headed home, but not before they took a look back at us. Billy is our hero. Boris is going to be sorry he missed this. We are both missing our Westie Peabody.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. The early morning’s coolest find along the Amazon?
Photo ©Jean Janssen. With Stephen in the background, Per checks out our new friend.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. And finally…searching for a new home. No Boris to land on.

We look the journey back to the Aria, spotting a few more animals along the way including a mantis that looked like Pickett, the bowtruckle (animal character) out of the current Harry Potter Fantastic Beasts series. There were plenty of farmers already out at work on their plots of land even though the hour was still early.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Early morning and farmers are already out working their plots of land in the channels off the Amazon River, Peru.
Robert shows off his catch. Photo by Ricardo

For our regular morning excursion after breakfast we are going piranha fishing and will have our second chance to do some swimming in the river. The fact that we are doing these at activities in roughly the same area did not escape me. For the piranha fishing, we are snuggling up to the shore line. We are baiting the lines with steak.

Per and Leslie show off their catch. Photo by Ricardo

I admit that I was a little apathetic about the fishing. Boris was really into it, but I was happy just to watch. The women on our boat were killing it. Rita and Karen caught 7 and 8 respectively. It probably didn’t help my attitude that Rita was right behind me and would swing her line and fish right in front of me each time. Many times the piranha landed at my feet. They are nasty little things that chewed right through Julio’s shoes so I admit to a few screams when one of those suckers landed on me. Ricardo got some pretty funny video.

Grace dressed to match her catch. Photo by Ricardo.
Photo by Jean Janssen. That nasty piranha chewed right through Julio’s shoe.

Finally, Julio came up to me and announced that we weren’t leaving until I caught a piranha. I had by this point caught a few; I just hadn’t landed any. So I gave in, baited the line, and Julio told me when to pull. I ended up catching one of the larger ones. Well then I was hooked and caught a few more. Boris did really well; he is the real fisherman in the family.

Natasha and friend
Boris and his haul of Piranhas. Photo by Ricardo.
Amazon Piranha. Photo by Ricardo.
Amazon Piranha. Photo by Ricardo.

By the time our fishing was almost complete, we had gathered quite an audience of the native people. As it turned out, they were there to provide rides in their canoes for anyone who wanted to participate. The ship had also supplied kayaks for anyone who wanted to paddle on their own. Boris went for a canoe ride and I stayed behind to get pictures of him.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Boris on a local canoe paddling the Amazon.
Paddle Up for Grace. Photo by Ricardo.
Enjoying the ship’s kayaks. Photo by Ricardo

After the paddle, we had our final chance to swim in the Amazon. Of course I jumped in. Once again it was cool and refreshing. Several of the guests decided to take their beverages in with them. At the end of our morning excursions, we headed back to the ship for lunch and a break. We have a village visit this afternoon.

Ready for a guest for her canoe on the Amazon. Photo by Ricardo
Joe enjoying the Amazon River. Photo by Ricardo.

One of the things I admire about particular travel groups is the ability to blend the cultural experience with the active one. It is even more impressive when they offer a philanthropic opportunity to bond with the native peoples. My dive masters, Ann and Eric Keibler, with Oceanic Ventures in Houston make that a part of all their international dive trips. Today we are visiting a local village and taking them health and school supplies. Good for Uniworld and Amazon Adventures.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Interacting with villagers along the Amazon and meeting the local midwife.
Natasha presenting a gift bag to young girl. She was so smart, correctly answering many of Julio’s questions. And what a memory! You can see our ship the Aria in the background.

Julio led us in introductions and games and even with a language barrier, we felt a connection with the families. We met the village midwife, a rarity and a lucky addition for this village. She had delivered multiple generations of children in the village and couldn’t even remember a total number. We had the opportunity to present each of the children with a gift bag and Boris and Joe even interacted with some of the local animals. It was a wonderful afternoon.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Boris is always finding animal friends that like to sit on him.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. Joe and friend.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. Boris waves goodbye to our new village friends along the Amazon.

Tonight was our final dinner aboard the Aria. We saw a wonderful video presentation of all the pictures and movies that Ricardo had recorded during our week on board. I have shared many of those with you. Harvey our head waiter did an amazing dance routine; none of knew he had it in him although there were hints when he led the conga line at last night’s dance party. Tomorrow is a transition day for us. We will leave the Aria then fly first to Lima and then on to Cuzco. No worries! The trip is far from over. Now we turn our attention to the ancient Inca sites that Peru is famous for. Stay tuned; there is so much more to come…

Sunset view from the Amazon Aria. Photo by Ricardo.
Natasha and her piranhas.

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.
This entry was posted in cruises, international, River Cruise and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s