Mike and Karen's South America Trip travel blog


Day 3 started out with a sleep in to 7:30 am, unfortunately I decided that I wanted to do the drums that morning to wake everyone up. They had these two huge hollowed out logs and beating sticks which you needed to smash the logs with to wake everyone up. I smashed, and smashed some more, but the sound was no where near how the locals did it. They then took them away to smash themselves and show me how it is done. I did it for round 3 and was much better. Karen was proud of me.

After breakfast we went out on the crash boat to get ourselves some lunch. On the way though we came across the legendary pink dolphins, and the less popular grey ones. We watched them as they swam around us, giving us a show. These dolphins are pretty cool as the male ones are pink, a theme that came up quite a bit in our trip. See in nature it is the males who have to impress the girls, now I see why they call humans more developed :)

After the show we went to get our lunch, oh yah, our lunch was Pirahnas. We were threatened that if the beef bait we had did not work that we would need to use tourist thumbs, but I think they were joking. Pirahnas are pretty cool as they will not eat a person, unless they have a cut, then a school of pirahnas come and eat the person up, yummy. So, tip of advice, do not go swimming with Pirahnas if you have a cut.

So there we were with a couple of Yankees from LA, and two guides and a driver. At fishing hole one we had a hard time starting out as the beef was being eaten too fast off the hooks. It is unclear if we were putting the meat on wrong, or if the more meat they eat the stupider or greedier they get. After three fishing spots, the guides caught about 5 each, I caught 4 (One was thrown back becuase it was too small), 3 were eaten and 2 escaped before getting in to the boat. Karen started out with none, but then went on a nice streak of 2 quick ones in succesion, unfortunately they were thrown back as they were too small. (but then, mike, we know that the best things come in small packages...! But Karen, that is true, except when you let them get away. EXCEPT MICHAEL you are a killer and i let mine go free into the wild to live out their glorious lives...so there! Well Karen, that is nice and all, but you will die of starvation that way. Ok well we3´ve decided thats enough...but i think we can all say i win. - note the vagueness in who I refers to). back to the story.

We enjoyed the pirahnas for lunch, as they become nice and crispy, you need to avoid the bones though and the sharp teeth.

Next up for the day was the Yagua Indian Tribe, it was, well, awkward. We were placed in to a amazon indian version of a teepee, where we watched a group of 20 Yaguas show us a tribal dance, which was cool, except they were doing it for just Karen and I, weird, not as bad though as Katy who we met who had the show all to herself. Also, while the older individuals looked like they were proud of what they were doing I got the distinct feeling that some of the younger ones were uncomfortable or really, just kinda putting on a show. Once we were shown the dance, Karen was picked up by an elder man to dance with them. I was picked up by 2 ladies, while Karen danced in front of me with her one half naked man, I got to dance with two half naked girls. Ok, they were not half naked, just in their tribal clothing which covered them up.

After the show we exited the hut, and while we expected to see a village, instead it was a market, selling blow guns, and carvings, one booth for each family, commercialism has hit the Yaguas. Before our shopping though we were given a blow gun demonstration. It took me four attempts to hit the target with the blow gun, and they looked upon me disappointingly. Karen made the target on her first and second attempt, which led the Yaguas to tease me about being beaten by a girl. Anyways, we bought a small blow gun to bring back home, if it does not get taken away.

Upon returning to the lodge Karen had a little moral dilema. She was had a hard time reconciling if what we had just seen was real or if it was just put on for show to make the dumb tourists think that what we had seen was real. In a way, it felt like, for lack of a better decriptor, a zoo. (by the way i - karen - am now writing). Basically, if they were dancing becuase they were proud and sharing their traditions thats great, but it also felt like they were just doing the dance for us - the tourists - to further compound our thoughts about "less developed people"...it felt in a way they were "selling" themselves. I would have been happier, i think, if they had just shown up in their regular clothes. Renillo even told us that they didn´t usually wear their traditional dress - in fact they live in a town 20 min walk away and get dressed up for the tourists. I don~t know if I´m describing myself well, but essentially I was beginning to feel duped. In any event, mike talked me down and we ended up having a very interesting conversation about social awareness and that sort of thing.

After that we went to visit a medical clinic just up river from us. It is run by an Internist originally from the US who, after a visit to Explorama lodge decided to move down to the amazon and open up a primary care clinic (about 19 yrs ago). She has since written a book called El Doctora, which I read and found quite interesting. They just moved into a new clinic which has 2 examing rooms, a dentist chair, a waiting room, and some sleep areas. I found her quite abrupt when answering my questions, but I guess after being faced with the reality of practicing medicine with limited resources you become quite matter of fact (or maybe that is the characteristic that allows a person to leave their home and set up shop in a foreign area...).

In the evening we met a girl from Finland (Katy). She was travelling on her own and we figured having someone to talk to would be a nice change!

After dinner we went on the SCARIEST part of our trip...a walk through the jungle AT NIGHT!!! Mike of course had been looking forward to this with relish..and I had been trying to make him forget. Alas...we bundled up, swathed in repellent and jackets tied up tight so nothing yucky would fall in. We saw night creatures like frogs, owls, and a TARANTULA! It was HUGE. Renillo found a tarantula hole and using a stick coaxed it out...it ran out and i jumped behind mike. Mike saw the teeth and everything. The thing was about 6-8inches and hairy. When Renillo said we could then look for scorpions I told him he was out of his mind (nicer tho). Luckily the spider was about the spookiest thing we saw. Then we got to go to bed...lovely.



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