Day 5 Amazon Voyage; Tuesday - Feb. 12, 2008
We were out at 6:00 a.m. on the Sapote River to look for more birds. We heard red howler monkeys. I hope I picked up the sound on my video. Truly awesome! Robinson, George, and Tui Tui can make every bird sound and call the monkeys as well. We did see a shaggy tail monkey and a saki monkey. We have also seen a sloth almost every time we have been out. We saw a black collared hawk, and several blue and yellow macaws. I also had the privilege of seeing my first wild toucan.
We found an ant’s nest and this wood pecker was going to town eating. We could get really close. At that time unfortunately, my video camera wasn’t working because I hadn’t turn off the night vision. It would have been spectacular video, so I guess I will have to return sometime.
We had a picnic breakfast on the river. We had a chicken sandwich (no surprise there) and a ham and cheese sandwich with a tomato. There was also an apple, coffee or tea, plus a chocolate granola bar. There are fewer mosquitos on the river rather than standing on land. We brought along a portable potty, better known as a pt. There is very little dry land, but we found a small clearing and we stopped. Tui Tui, Robinson and the man who lived there used their machetes and cut a path to a low area for us ladies to use the pt. Yes, there was a line. Men were told to just use the woods. The lady had embroidered birds for sale that were rather pretty, and we all left her with about $80. I guess the family was glad we came. The woman was quite the entrepreneur and was trying to sell us her fish as we left. I am glad we didn’t buy them. Heavens knows how long they had been sitting out there. The families dogs were some of the best fed we have seen. They were smart too and spent their time on the family boat on the river – less mosquitoes.
David has an ipod with over 4000 bird calls. He turns it on and it is amazing how the birds answer. The birds believe that another bird is invading their territory. The real birds flew over us, squawking their heads off, telling his ipod birds to hit the road. David then turned off his ipod and said, “Oh, let them puff up believing they scared that nasty ipod bird away.
The first time he turned it on our boat driver, Mikey rattled a nearby bush and Tui Tui went nuts looking for the bird because he never misses anything, but the ipod bird couldn’t be found. Everyone got a good laugh, Tui felt silly, and from then on David showed him that he was about to turn on the ipod. Robinson told David which species of bird he heard, David found the bird on his ipod and the ipod calls away. It is very interesting however, to learn that some of the Amazon species are either sharper or flatter than David’s ipod birds. Who knew that not only does each species of bird have its own sound but also its own dialect. Robinson can tell the different types of macaws by their sound. David depends on the color on the top of the wing as the bird flies and curls its wings underneath.
We found a rubber tree. You could see the scares on it where people slashed the bark and then put a cup under the sap which is pure latex. True rubber is not very stable in extremely hot or cold temperature, therefore, the reason for synthetic rubber today. David told us that the rubber barons hired the natives as indentured servants. However, they took the cost for the machete out of their pay as well as the cup to catch the latex etc. Somehow the natives never made any money and the rubber barons were millionaires. Thousands upon thousands of natives died.
Robinson asked us if we wanted to see another type of mammal and of course we said, “Yes.” We were surprised however at what we saw – bats. They blended into the tree so well that if Robinson hadn’t pointed them out there would be no hope of finding them.
Back to the boat, but not chicken – turkey instead. We also had homemade applesauce which was really good.
After lunch, we headed out to go piranha fishing on the Carocuraharte Creek. There was light drizzle so we started the trip with our ponchos, but it only lasted a few minutes and we were dry the rest of the trip. We had our little poles made from wild sugar cane. All was well, until we came upon a log jam. First we tried to go over the logs – no go. Tui Tui was not to be outdone by a log jam, so he stood on the bow of the boat and starting to machete his way around since the forest is completely under water. We thought he was going to make it through, but the boat became stuck. Mickey had to pull his boat out. We learned the reason, first hand why there are always two boats.
On the way back, Robinson tells Tui Tui to get out and chop us some bijio leaves for the next night’s supper. We had them the following night. You don’t eat the leaves. Our chef took our famous catfish wrapped it with tomato and onion and put it in the oven. It sort of steams it. That was really good. I must admit I have enjoyed the fish dinners. Of course there was chicken thighs and legs – a new part of the chicken for us. We learned that the people raise chickens but not to eat themselves. They sell them, so the chickens are transported down to Iquintos to the markets to be sold. The native people mostly eat fish and occasionally a monkey- but not chicken. At night they catch up the baby chicks and put them in a pen on the floor of their house to protect them from snakes and different prey eating birds.
That evening we were treed up on the Pacaya Canal at the entrance of the Pacaya Samiria Reserve which covers five million acres. Talk about isolated. It was really cool being absolutely the only people there. We had to check with the ranger station before entering because there are still unfortunately poachers. However the River is the only highway out of the reserve so the three ranger stations are starting to catch poachers. It was obvious that there were more animals. We saw a Great Pootoo. I hope my photo of this spectacular bird turns out. Tui Tui caught two caimans. He stood on the railings of the bow of our open boat quickly flashed a light back and forth and suddenly would signal for Mickey to stop. He would then lean over the bow and bam, a caiman. Pretty exciting!
More to follow,
Tom and Holly