There’s a reason they call the Amazon the rain forest—when it rains it really pours! By the time you dig out your rain gear, it’s too late, you’re already drenched. You can put up a “waterproof” tent but it will leak like a sieve. The rain is just relentless. John got a picture of me mopping up the tent and wringing out several gallons of rainwater. If the rain soaking your sleeping bag weren’t enough, the raindrops sound like they’re coming down at 200 miles an hour. It makes so much noise you can’t sleep.
We got to see what the constant rain and humidity does to a fallen date palm tree. As the tree begins to decay, grubs bore their way through fattening themselves up on the oil-rich wood. Our guide chopped and pried open the fibrous wood of the rotting tree with his machete, tracing the tunnels made by the grubs until he dug out the fat little Amazonian delicacy.
I’ll spare you the photo of me downing one of these barbecued critters. It was the first time I’ve ever eaten a grub in the jungle in the Amazon. I kept thinking what Marc might have called this: a “sheesh-kabob!” Can’t you just hear him exclaiming “Sheesh Gary, you think I’m eating THAT?”
Later that morning we hiked along the river and back into a lagoon searching for new plant species. When we got to the lagoon our guide told us there were six-meter-long alligators in the water and anacondas that run to nine meters in length. That’s about 28 feet long!
While on the river we had to be on the constant lookout for a barbed bamboo. I’ve never seen anything like it. The barbs on this bamboo are like fishhooks and there are about one every inch on the lower branches. Where the bamboo bends out over the water, you are definitely at risk. One snag and your inflatable boat will go flat like a pancake.
When walking, we had to watch out for “devil’s palm.” They had six-inch spikes that were so sharp they would go straight through your boot and your foot and come out the top of your boot! But we also saw beautiful black flower whose fragrance you could smell a kilometer away.
Flying out in our single engine six-seater Cessna was another adventure. In order not to overload the plane (and because the landing strip was so short), Giovanni took one-half of the gear and flew out and then the plane came back for John and me. When we finally cleared the treetops and were on our way, I couldn’t help but make plans for a return trip.
D. Gary Young