Sunday, July 5, 2009

Day Seventeen - June 26th, 2009 - The Amazon

Breakfast at 4:30, then we hike out to the river.  Mom isn't feeling well, so she sits this one out.  We take a boat 1/2 hour upriver, then hike about 1/2 hr to an oxbow lake (a lake created when two sides of a bend in a river meet and it makes a shortcut, then what used to be the bend is sealed off into a lake).  We hop a pontoon boat with one other group.  We cruise around the lake for three or 4 hours.  

We see a family of giant river otters (rare).  We see a number of birds, many of which Mom has in Southwest Florida.  

Eventually the guides bust out cane fishing poles and bait their hooks with beef.  Are they fishing for piranha?  Yes!  

Jhin catches one, and shows off its teeth, then tosses it back.  

We head back to the dock, hike back to the river, boat back to the port, and hike back to the lodge.  We crash until lunch, which is excellent.  

We hike to the clay lick - a place on the river bank that's rich in minerals that the Macaws like to lick.  

There are no Macaws at the clay lick today, but we do see one Red and Green Macaw up in a tree on our way there.  Mom is feeling better and joins us for this hike.

We stop back at camp for a moment, then head to the river again.  On the way we see some Red Howler Monkeys, and they are howling.  They howl when one band of monkeys gets into another's territory.  They sound like some sort of sinister machine.  We board our boat for a ride upriver to a medicinal garden and Shaman's residence.  We get a tour of the gardens, with our guides and the Shaman's assistant describing how the various plants are used.  They give us a leaf to chew, without telling us what it is.  We get a tingling sensation in our mouths, then numbness.  We find out that this plant, Cordoncillo, is a natural source of novacaine, but it's a much more pleasant sensation than getting novacaine at the dentist's office.  Drama happens when a guy in our group faints.  Turns out he always faints when he gets shots, and his brain has associated the mouth-numbing with getting a shot, causing him to faint.  Crazy.  

Later in the tour they show us a plant whose seed pods contain some powdery, orange pigmented seeds.  They use it to paint our faces, like "war paint".  The garden tour ends with what the shamans call the "master plant" Ayahuasca.  Ayahuasca is to the natives here what Peyote is to the Native Americans.  It is used spiritually, and ceremonially.  We stop by the Shaman's lab, where we are given samples of a number of different things.  One is an herbal energy drink, another is a natural Viagra, and another is Cat's Claw, a cure for all sorts of things.

We head back to our lodge, have another excellent dinner, and crash.  Hard to believe, but tomorrow we are headed hhhhhh.  Hhhhhhhhhh.  Home.  

1 comment:

Anneathema said...

I love love love the river otters.