Sunday, July 21, 2013

Amazon Adventure! Part II

Day two of our adventure (the second full day), dawned bright and early. Actually, it began before the sun, at 2:10am, when we were awakened by the shrill sound of the buzzer at our door. The bellboy was bringing a cot. He was trying to explain this to a bleary-eyed Stephanie, as I was stumbling to the door. I assured him that we did not order a cot. "Are you sure?" he said. "Yes. We don't need a cot," I said. "Well, did you need anything?" (He didn't seem to want to leave without delivering these people work on commission?) "No. We were asleep. It's the middle of the night." (You idiot) ((I am not a pleasant person when awaked from my beauty sleep.)) He kept bowing and apologizing. I kind of felt sorry for him. Not as sorry as I felt for myself.

Anyway, Day Two/Take Two dawned bright and early. We were scheduled for the "Survival in the Jungle" tour. We met our guide at the front desk. He spoke less English than our first guide, but he did manage to assure us that he was a "big, strong, Jungle Man". Steph and I were relieved. We boarded a boat, this time a smaller speed boat. Our guide told us we would make it to our destination very quickly. "Most boats take an hour, but this boat is fast. It will take 20 minutes."

We set off at full throttle...and made it a few yards. Then the engine died. We floated for a bit, while the driver fiddled with the ignition. He finally got it going again. We made it a little further before the engine died again. This happened repeatedly, before our guide climbed in the back and held the throttle open manually. We still cut out a few more times. Let me remind you that this river is HUGE--wider than the Mississippi. Steph and I were beginning to wonder if this excursion was going to include the  "Survival in the River" tour.

Sister putting on a brave face;
clinging to her life jacket during the "River Survival" portion of our tour.

All I could picture were the giant monster fish that we saw yesterday:

 and all of the embalmed piranhas we saw at the shops:

(Tom's souvenir)
I know I can't swim. And, after watching my sister handle the airplane drama of two days ago, I didn't want to find out about her emergency swimming skills.
We finally made it--without having to row...or swim. We were headed to a native village, and when we pulled up to shore, I thought we had stepped into the pages of a National Geographic magazine. I know I looked like a tourist, but I just couldn't stop staring. Were those people really naked?! Yep. Just out washing their clothes...and children... in the brown water. The young guy in front of me was snapping all sorts of pictures. Maybe he works for National Geographic? I took a picture of the area when we left, after all of the people were gone. Call me old fashioned (this is a family blog!):
You can kind of see the benches out in the water that they used to scrub their clothes on.
We got off the boat and climbed a set of stairs carved out of the hillside:

And reached the village, where we met the chief and her son.

Chief's Son
(I'm beginning to like this place.)
The community hut used for ceremonies/dances

 Inside the community hut
Our guide, along with the Chief's son, took us on a hike through the jungle, showing us many interesting things along the way; identifying medicinal plants and poisonous plants, teaching us how to set snares, how to build shelters, identify direction, protect ourselves from animals, build a fire, etc. It was incredibly interesting and informative. Steph and I are planning a camping trip next year. Anyone want to come?
You really can't tell from this picture, but the jungle was so thick, that our guide would get just a few feet ahead, and disappear.

Steph-- in her natural habitat

Termite nest

 Our Big, Strong, Jungle Guide demonstrating the properties of one of the plants.
He scraped some sap off of a tree, put it on a stick, lit it on fire, and waved the smoke over us. I thought he was going to start chanting. Apparently, the incense is a natural insect repellent--and it smells great!

 Here, our guide is demonstrating the use of one of the jungle's leaves. This leaf glows in the dark, and is great to use woven in the roof of your hut, or laid out in a path to guide your way back in the dark. He wove this particular leaf into a crown for me and named me, "Queen of the Jungle".
Yes, I am very proud.

Ant nest.
 Everything in the jungle is useful. You can take a handful of ants, squish them in your palms, and take an "ant bath"--rubbing the ants all over your body to cover your smell. (There are jaguars and other predators in the jungle.) Still up for that camping trip?

"Telephone Tree"
When you hit this tree with a stick, it makes a loud, reverberating sound that can be heard for miles, and is used to communicate in the jungle. Our guide used it a few times when we got behind. It was very effective.

He taught us how to make a rope out of a palm frond. Then, he fashioned the rope into a circle and the chief's son put it around his bare feet and used it to shimmy all the way up this tree--really fast! I was in such awe of "ability"... that I neglected to take a picture. I did, however, get a picture of this guy,  (remember the National Geographic photographer?) trying to impress his new girlfriend. He wasn't very impressive, making it about three feet off the ground.

Sister found a little frog friend

Getting swallowed by the jungle

We rode back to the village in canoes.
When we got back to the village, the people "surprised" us with lunch. This was not on the program. As a Public Health Nurse, I often advise clients to NEVER eat in situations such as this. The food was sitting out on a wooden table in the middle of the community hut. I have no idea how long it had been sitting there. I don't know how it was prepared. Most of the women weren't wearing clothing on top. There was a bowl of water for us to wash our hands in. There was nothing to keep the hot food hot, or the cold food cold. I doubt anyone had a Food Handler's Permit. There was, however, a lady fanning away flies, so I felt good about it. We ate... and survived to tell about it. (It was tasty!)
 Do as I say, not as I do. 
After lunch, we were treated to some traditional dances by the natives (Tupé Indians). I took still pictures only of the men, because the women were in their National Geographic attire. Okay, I admit, I took video of the all of the dancers... for educational purposes. But, I will not be posting those videos here.

For the very last dance, we were all invited to join in. I am very proud to say that I was chosen to partner with the chief's son. I thought it was fitting. After all, I was crowned Queen of the Jungle:



No comments:

Post a Comment