|Thursday, January 13, 2011
We split into two groups for our 1 ½ hour walk through the Amazon jungle. Any was our guide along with his assistant.
Any stopped frequently along the path, that was not paved or marked clearly, so you knew that you were walking in a jungle. We had to step carefully over roots, duck under low-hanging branches and try to not touch any vegetation which could be irritating or have sharp thorns. Any said that if we fall, just drop and not try to brace ourselves of grab onto any support. Some used walking sticks which are a great aid over uneven footing.
Any pointed out the Cocobola tree, whose trunk seemed rather thin, but supported leaves that are the largest in the plant kingdom. When someone coughed, Any had a remedy from the Copaiba tree. Three drops taken internally will soothe a sore throat; ten drops for a blocked stomach. Applying the oil externally produces a wonderful massage. The oil is extracting by drilling a hole in the tree trunk.
The nuts from the Cumaru tree are being used for headache, massage, curing cancer and possibly AIDS. Another nut with beneficial medicinal properties comes from the Anderobu that needs to be boiled and sun dried for about 3 - 4 days.
Any’s assistant dug out a soil sample for us to see the layers. The top layer is very shallow with sand underneath. If all the moisture were removed from the jungle, it would be a desert. As we walked the assistant
wove designs from the palm leaves. Someone got a scorpion, another a graceful bird, and almost all of the women got head bands that made us look like jungle princesses.
Any demonstrated the hollow sound of the Araba, which is called the telephone of the jungle. Pounding on the trunk can be heard from great distances. He also showed us the powder and resin of Briah which is extremely flammable.
The names of the trees and plants seemed to be in Portuguese or local dialect, so I don’t have the botanical names.
Just as we were ending our tour the sky opened up with a downpour. We had time to have lunch and dry off before our next tour at 3:00 pm.
The rain had stopped by 3:00 pm as we got into motorized canoes with a canopy that seated ten people.
We were going to cross the river to a monkey island to see wooly
and red faced monkeys.
The wooly monkeys were very friendly and hopped on a few people’s laps and shoulders. They were lured into the area for feeding so they were abundant. The mothers with their babies won everyone’s hearts.
We got back into the canoes for a rather long ride where we would try our luck catching piranhas. We docked at a pier with a restaurant that also sold snacks and beverages. There were plenty of plastic lawn chairs for anyone not caring to fish. I was the first one with a rod baited with a small piece of raw beef. I had to prove catching the first piranha wasn’t a fluke, and it wasn’t. I was lucky again but this fish was a little smaller than the one that I caught the other day. Ray caught one also, but his was the size that barely covered the palm of his hand. We stayed in this spot 1 ½ hours, which I think was much too long. People that didn’t care to fish didn’t have much else to do but just sit on the dock.
On the way back Any stopped to talk about the different fish in the Amazon jungle, one so large it can swallow a man whole. He also pointed out the vegetation that can survive even when though it gets completely covered when the river rises. Any’s next mission was trying to catch a caiman. With our flashlights and those of our partner canoes’ pointed at the shore we rode around trying to catch sight of caimans. This, also, took up too much time. The people in one of the boats started singing “Show Me the Way To Go Home”. I think the afternoon could have been better spent; I don’t know how, but everyone seemed exhausted and hungry when we got home in the dark at 8:00 pm after 5 hours on the water.
After dinner we gathered on the sand by the beach to watch Indians dance to the music of chants along with their native flutes and shakers of various sizes.