I met my fellow Amazon travelers before heading out on our afternoon excursion, a hike through the jungle. I dressed in my jeans which were tucked into my knee-high rubber boots. I slathered on the bug juice and grabbed two bottles of water.
In addition to our guide, Daniela, we had a local jungle expert, Magno, – someone who grew up in the area and was able to navigate us through the jungle and point out some of the more interesting and relevant aspects. I am a casual observer of plants and animals. I don’t usually pick up on the small details of these things so the expert advice was appreciated. Daniela spoke English and Spanish. Magno spoke Spanish and Kichwa.
We were given a few instructions before walking. Wear your boots to protect yourself from the mud and other jungle things. Watch your arms and hands while walking through to protect against spiny sticks and the ants. Otherwise, we were good to go.
The temperature wasn’t too bad in the jungle. But, the humidity was impressive. I could feel the condensation collect on my face and neck and I could see it on the shirts of everyone else. The air was still but luckily not so warm that you felt oppressed by it all.
The jungle was densely packed with the trees towering over us blocking most of the light from coming through. While the sun was still shining brightly overhead, all we could see was a dull ambient light. We had plenty of light to see our surroundings, but sunglasses would’ve made it too dark to see anything.
We stopped to see the farmer ants and the army ants. We saw the various trees with root systems that covered the ground. While we walked on a well-worn path, at times, our guide still had to use his machete to clear new jungle growth that had started to reclaim the trail.
We returned to camp and had just enough time for a quick shower before dinner. We met at 6:30 in the bar for a quick drink and then headed off to the dining room for dinner. We had a cream of spinach soup topped with popcorn followed by pizza with cole slaw. We were served a large glass of fresh raspberry juice. And dessert consisted of a lemon sorbet with coffee. We were also visited by a tarantula in the dining room which crossed the doorway on a beam near the ceiling.
We had decided that after dinner we would do one more quick excursion in the dark – to find the caimans (a South American cousin to the crocodiles). I headed back to my cabin to change when I looked up above my bed to find a large spider on the wall. It wasn’t a tarantula, but it had eight legs and I just imagined it falling on my in the middle of the night. When I joined my group, Daniela asked me how I was doing. I said “mas o menos bien” (more or less OK). I explained the situation and disappointed her when I explained that it was NOT a tarantula. She told me that they’d take care of it after our outing.
We climbed aboard a small canoe and made our way into the lagoon. We saw a small boa (boita) nearby on a large leaf. The lagoon was still and dark. The night sky lit up with the ambient light from the stars and the moon. We couldn’t see them because of the clouds. But the light was still brighter than anything in the jungle or in the water. A cacophony of sounds filled the night air as we slowly crossed the lagoon looking for the caimans.
Daniela was at the front of the boat with a large flashlight looking for the caiman. Basically, they are resting under the water and only the eyes visible. So, once we spotted caiman eyes, we paddled over closer to the caiman until he decided that it was time to move on. We only saw two this evening, but only the eyes, not the full body.
After getting back, I led Danielle and Magno to my room. With them in the room, the spider didn’t look as big. Once they were gone, I got my book, bottle of water and a wet washrag to cover my face and I went to bed. The temperature in the room was 26-27 degrees Celsius. The doors don’t lock, but there is a latch to keep anything from nudging the door open. The mosquito net covered the bed and I felt protected from the world – or at least the creepy crawly things of the Amazon.