Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Amazon Jungle, Day 3

Our third day in the Amazon Jungle started with a delicious breakfast of fresh pineapple, oranges, sweet bread, and bananas. It was more food then the 3 of us could possibly eat. Francisco threw the extra into the woods to be eaten by the monkeys. There's not exactly a Leave No Trace ethic here, but I'm sure the monkeys loved it.

Our breakfast buffet

After breakfast we packed up our hammocks and started our hike back to the lodge. Francisco led the way and in a few feet he stopped abruptly and jumped back. He was surprised by an injured bird sitting in the middle of the trail. It was so well camouflaged and hissed at him. The birds mouth looked like the inside of a snake’s mouth. An animal probably attacked it in the middle of the night. He poked at the bird so that it hissed and we saw it’s mouth. We left it there for nature to do her thing.

The injured bird

As we continued on we passed a tree with a large nest in the side. Our guide cut an “X” across the nest with his machete and then put his hand on the nest. In seconds his hand was covered in small ants. He slapped at them to kill them then rubbed them around. Natural mosquito repellant, he said. It did smell good, but I wasn’t game to try it.

A nest of ants that when crushed create a natural mosquito repellent

There actually weren’t really any mosquitoes around. Of course, we had heard horror stories about the mosquitoes in the Amazon Jungle, but we were on the Rio Urubu and due to the high acidity of the water the mosquito eggs can’t survive in it. Therefore, there weren’t many mosquitoes. It was great! We had insect repellent with us, but we barely used it. I did find two ticks on me though so long pants were important.

We continued on and Francisco stopped again and walked off the trail to a large vine. He cut a section of the vine and showed us how to drink water out of it. I was skeptical, but the water was delicious. It tasted so pure. It also sounded like a quiet rain stick when the water ran down. The vine acts as a filter and cleans the water. He said it’s a common source of water when you need it for survival.

Julie drinking water from a vine

We continued walking further and then got to swing from a vine. This made me very happy. Of course, it is the classic jungle thing to do and I love swinging on things.

Julie swinging on the vine

We continued on and suddenly Francisco just veered off the path to a pile of red wood. We watched as he picked up a piece and started hacking away with his machete. We had no idea what he was doing. Soon we saw a spoon-like shape emerging from the wood. We thought he was making a spoon for the chef back at the lodge. Then he came back, handed the spoon to Julie and said he’d carve it a little nicer for her back at the lodge. We were shocked at his generosity. Later, he did shape it into a gorgeous, large stirring spoon for Julie. She was very excited and appreciative.

Francisco doing the rough cut for Julie's spoon

As we got close to the lodge Francisco showed us how the roofs of the buildings are made from the palm fronds. The leaves are bent and then the fronds are layered together overlapping each other. Simple and genius.

Bending the green fronds to form the roof

The underside of the thatched roof

We arrived back to the lodge safely, sweaty, and very happy. We showered, ate lunch, repacked our bags and headed back to Manaus via boat and bus.

We had a wonderful trip and Francisco was an excellent guide – professional, knowledgeable, intelligent, and funny. We are very thankful to have worked with him and the other staff of Amazon Antonio Jungle Tours. I would highly recommend them to anyone traveling to that area.

1 comment:

nthome said...

Amy, I loved reading about your 3 day Amazon trip and seeing your beautiful photos. An Amazon trip has been on my bucket list for a couple of years, and after reading your blog posts, I want to go there all the more! It sounds like you and Julie are having a wonderful time at Semester at Sea, but you sure are missing a lot of excitement here in Wisconsin! I'm headed down the the protests at the Capitol today with my 12 year old.