Day 4 Amazon Voyage, Monday - Feb. 11, 2008
We started out on our 6:00 a.m. boat ride down what is called a black water stream called Yanallpa Creek. The Amazon River is called white water even though it is brown because the water runs off the land and into the river. In a black water stream, the water seeps up from the ground rotting the leaves which creates tannic acid turning the water black in color. The water actually looks crystal clear, absolutely beautiful as are the birds. Spectacular! We saw several types of hawks that supposedly had over a five foot wing span. Tom even spotted one that the guide missed. We saw owl monkeys, shaggy monkeys, and a saki monkey.
Back to the La Amatista for breakfast. These tours take about two hours, so you are good and hungry when you return. Their bacon is very thick and chewy. I like it, but a lot of people do not.
After breakfast, we took the small boats (open boats as they call them) to a village that was quite fancy compared to yesterday’s. It was called Yanallpa Village. They created a fence out of living trees. We saw all types of fruit trees plus chickens and pigs. The chickens ran loose, but the pigs were fenced. We met one lady that was thirty years old with six children, however she looked as if she was in her late forties. She had writing on the walls to teach her children and a calendar. Talk about home schooling. David told us that not much schooling happens after kindergarten. It is all learning how to survive. Little need to learn to read and write. She was cooking dinner with three pots over an open flame. The village people eat breakfast and then a lunch in the middle of the afternoon. When they go fishing they bring a few bananas or cut them from the nearest tree. Fill a pot with water straight from the river add a banana (I have learned they use plantains instead of bananas) and a fish, let it boil until the plantain is soft and there is dinner – fish stew. They use the plantains because they are quite fibrous and need quite a lot of cooking. When the plantain is cooked the stew is ready. She also had chopped part of a tree trunk in the front of the hut that had a bee hive. They actually get honey from the hive.
The entire village was extremely fascinating. I tried to capture the essence on video. A man cut down a palm tree and cut out the heart of palm. We were able to eat some right then. I really liked it, delicious. The guides bought some for us to take back to the La Amatista for lunch. They do not cook the heart of palm like we do in Florida. For lunch we had the hearts of palm, potato with cheese sauce, pumpkin sauce over corn kernels that were probably one inch square, rice with cilantro (I forgot to mention that there is always rice.), stuffed peppers, and yes you guessed, chicken thighs. I guess that is the only part of the chicken there is. At the village, they had fish parts laden with salt lying out on open logs like the Timucuan Indians used to do. I am glad there was no fish on the lunch menu. I must admit lunch was healthy, full of veggies and delicious even if it was chicken thighs again. Good thing I like chicken. The bread at every meal is excellent.
All of the fruits and vegetables are bought from the villages in hopes that the people will understand by selling renewable resources, they do not need to use resources that are non-renewable. This Amazon voyages was started in 1994. Since that time they are seeing more and more people becoming concerned for this habitat and the local people. The people are fascinating. We were told not to give them money, but to buy items that they have for sale as long as it is not something illegal such as animal parts, skulls or monkey tails which unfortunately they still harvest. Although there are many success stories, deforestation and unnecessary hunting are still going on. Last year this voyage had to stop going to the Monococha or the lake of the monkeys due to deforestation and illegal hunting. This lake was a place to see the rare Red Uakari monkey which is now almost extinct. Ecotourism is one way to help save the environment.
Two of International Expeditions guides, George and Robinson were raised in these types of villages and are the Copernicus’s of their time. Just unheard of what they have accomplished. When George was a boy, a tour came through and he realized that there was another world out there. He left the village at sixteen for Iquintos to go to school and the off to college to study environmental science. Robinson’s father used to take him into the woods and teach him the names and everything else you would ever want to know about all of the flora and fauna of the Amazon and then quiz him on it. Neither has ever returned to the village life. Tui Tui, ole eagle eyes, as I call him, is close behind but does not speak English.
After dinner, we went out for a night trip to see what the Amazon is like in the dark. We were on the Sapote River. All of these rivers named are tributaries of the Amazon and make up the Amazon River Basin. I thought for certain this would be the time that the mosquitoes would carry us off. No! We have had a few mosquitoes but really nothing that would carry you off. Robinson caught a boa in a tree. We measured it, and it was four feet long. Actually to me it looked fairly small. They tell you not to carry flashlight out at night because it attracts wasps and sure enough Miguel got stung by a wasp. We found a frog, a grasshopper, and woke up some poor kingfishers trying to get a good night’s rest. Back to the boat to crash.
More to follow,
Tom & Holly