Monday, September 03, 2012

Peru/Brazil/Argentina Day 14: Amazon wildlife and jungle trek

May 16, 2012
Peru Day 14: Amazon wildlife and jungle trek

On our 2nd day in the Amazon, we started again with a "sleep-in" day, and only got up at 6:30-ish :). Breakfast was fantastic, omelettes, bread and mantequilla (butter) and fried potatoes. And we were off into the jungle again, searching for animals to photograph.

We first happened upon a funny sloth, walking backwards slowly down a branch. He was funny. Then we saw the Pygmy Marmoset again, that squirrely monkey, and I managed to get a slightly better photo of those crazy fast-running things. The plant life was cool too, we stopped and tried a plant called the Shimbillo, or "Ice Cream Bean". You chew the edges from the inside of the bean and it tastes somewhat like vanilla, it was good. We then saw another sloth, a 2-toed one this time. There were also many cool birds, like these crazy toucans. They were really funny when they started flying, they seem too strange-looking and weirdly-shaped to fly, kindof like when you see a Kookaburra flying... it just seems out of place. So that was also hilarious to watch.

Sloth!
Cool hanging nests
Red flower
Monkeys!!!!!!! I think this was the Pygmy Marmoset
Home on the Amazon
Girl
Logging
Cat on a hot tin roof
Cat on a hot tin roof 2
Drive into town
Takeoff
Bullet
Wingspan
Looking for creatures
F&J
Sloth
Sloth on the move
Climbing
Awesome bird
Another sloth
After seeing the last sloth, the humidity finally got to a breaking point, and we had to batten down the hatch! It started POURING. HARD. It was a huge rainstorm as we were out on the boat, and we got completely drenched, it was "literally" coming down in buckets, huge rain drops in sheets and sheets, for maybe 15 or 20 min straight. We were drenched right through. I don't have any photos of it because my camera was tightly wrapped in my waterproof Camera Bag, where it had to be at that moment :) It was totally nuts and kinda fun, but also we were soaked through.

After the rain stopped we headed back to the lodge and air-dried for a while, heading back and taking off everything and changing into pyjamas. We had a nice warm lunch of meatballs, rice and bean sauce, and then headed to the lounge room. It seemed an ideal time to pop open a bottle of the Aguadiente with Miel (Fire water with Honey) and have a few warming sips while relaxing after the storm in the hammock room. We all had a good afternoon nap after that.

A few hours later, we got up, put on long pants and wellies (rubber boots) and headed off to do a jungle walk on some Terra Firma somewhat near the lodge.

On the way to the terra firma jungle hike
First up was a small frog called a "Poison" frog (everything seems moderately dangerous here - I took my sister's usual good advice to heart here, "Don't touch ANYTHING" haha). There was a funny leaf toad that camouflaged very well. We saw a huge grasshopper and learned the difference between Yucca and Yuca (which I now forget, heh).

On the Terra Firma
The trees here are booby-trapped
Tiny frog
Oscar and the tiny frog
F&J looking very serious with a seed pod
Watch your head! And step!
Frog kisses
We kept walking, dodging spikey trees and plants and other random stuff we shouldn't touch. I had long pants on (thankfully), but they were not Amazon-proof. After some hiking I felt a pinch on my leg. I thought maybe it was a twig caught in my pants, poking me. I squeezed the area on my thigh and felt another pinch. (This is why zip-off pants rock) - I quickly un-zipped my pant leg and noticed a small black ant on my leg. Whoops!!!!! Quickly - and somewhat nervously - I called over Oscar, our guide. "Oscar... what is this???" I asked in a concerned tone. "Oh yes, an Army ant," he replied, "Not lethal."

Oh good!!!! Not lethal! Well, I guess that's all I really needed to know :) He said later they are a bit uncomfortable of a bite, but it wouldn't cause any problems and it didn't. But it was still a bit dodgy. I think Jess said later that she got back and found she had gotten some Army ant bites too. Oh, the Amazon.

The kind of bites we DEFINITELY didn't want we thankfully stayed well away from. Later on in the hike we arrived at a Bullet Ant nest. This ant is famously called the "Bullet ant" because being bitten by it feels like you're being shot with a bullet. Apparently one or two bites is insanely painful, but if you get hit by 5 or 6 it's probably lethal - they wouldn't even bother air-lifting you out. Insane.

So with that context... we happened upon a Bullet ant nest and Teddy was excited to show us the ants. They were calmly milling about in their nest, minding their own business... and he JAMMED A STICK DOWN THE NEST to rustle them up and get some to flow out of the nest. He also got a few to climb onto the stick and lifted the stick up so we could more easily seem them. Holy crap. I backed away so fast as these bullet ants started pouring out of their nest, getting a much safer distance away from them. There was no way I wanted one crawling into my pant leg like the Army ant had just done 30 min prior. This was insane, and yes, these guys have been guiding for many many years so I trusted this was safe (ish), but I still took off :) The ants were friggin' huge, and I wasn't going to stick around for longer than just a quick look.

See this? It's a BULLET ANT NEST. The most dangerous in the world... and then Teddy jammed a stick into it so we could see them...
Bullet Ants running out of the nest. I followed their lead and ran the hell away from them.
After high-tailing it away from the Bullet ants, we continued onwards on the hike. We saw a Yucca root, and Teddy chopped it down which was pretty neat to see. Later we ate this for dinner! We also saw some other interesting and weird plants, bananas, as well as a Rubber tree! The sap was stretchy and sticky, like thin chewing gum.

Oscar and a Yucca root
Teddy, our fearless (literally) guide
Oscar explaining the Yucca root, which we later ate
Cool rainforest plants
Weird and gross/cool/crazy-looking bug
Don't... touch... anything!
This was a heck of an adventure, and after being rained on and bitten by an Army ant and sweating like a crazy person in my long-sleeved shirt and pants on the jungle trek (it was super high humidity, but we needed covered skin because of all of the crazy plants and animals -- perhaps we didn't "need" it, but there was no way I was gonna roll through that forest in shorts and a t-shirt!)... after all of this it was nigh time to roll back to the lodge and chill out.

I changed again and showered, and then saw a massive spider in our shower area. Kev and I both looked and it and neither of us wanted to try to shoo it out, it was on the ceiling and seemed to be stationary (for now). So we shrugged it off and just went for dinner instead, which rocked.

Dinner was chicken and river fish, including an unusual fish that Anthony had cause due to the uncharacteristic high water in the Amazon. That was very tasty. We headed back to the hammock room after for some more Aguadiente fire water, which our friends from Boston called "tooth water" (agua "diente"?!) After a long and busy and action-packed day, we headed to sleep.

But... one more adventure first.

As we were about to go to sleep, we checked on the position of the massive spider that was in the bathroom earlier before dinner. It was gone. Presumably, on the move. S**t!!! Jess told us we should have gotten rid of it when we first saw it. There was no way we were gonna sleep, even with bug nets up, if we didn't find it. "Fortunately", we looked around for a bit and found it... right beside the head of Kev's bed. Oh jeez. We brushed it out with a boot, and it fell off the wall, hitting the wooden slat ground and we shoo'd it out of the room and a few steps away to the edge of the wooden slats. It rounded around the corner and we shut the door.

This place is crazy.

3 comments:

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