Last week, in Brazil Part 2, I brought you, my very patient readers, many details about the river boat I stayed on, along with my dad and three German women, as part of a week-long riverboat cruise on the Amazon river and its many tributaries. This week, I shall bring you tales of… adventure!!!!
When I booked this river cruise (I don’t know if you’ve picked it up by now but I sometimes do an absolutely stunning lack of research before going on a trip) I had actually imagined that it would be just that – us on a boat cruising around a river for a week. This sounded great to me and still does. However, turns out this trip was gonna be chock full of adventure. The normal daily schedule for this trip was to actually go on two adventures a day – one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. After the boat cruised to some convenient location, we would pile into the canoes that we towed behind us and go off to look at the jungle. The picture at the top is me in one of the launches, with two of the German girls behind me. I haven’t brought it up yet, but the reason I had that mustache is because at the Academy you aren’t allowed any facial hair, but now that I was a Big Bad Ensign I was of course allowed to maintain my facial hair within normal “Big Navy” regs, which meant that I was exercising my freedom to grow a mustache. My grandma says it makes me look handsome.
Our guide, who I have mentioned several times at this point, was named Elso. He had grown up in the area and told us many tales of going off into the jungle as a kid with his buddies to go hunting and such, only swinging by home when they ran out of coffee or somesuch. He was extremely well versed with the jungle, its inhabitants, and how to find his way around and how to show us all sorts of cool stuff.
One brand of these adventures was going out and interacting with the local wildlife. In the above photo you can see me interrogating a caiman. I think this was one of our very first evenings out and about. The process of catching caimans wasn’t particularly difficult, at least for Elso and his other guides. They shined a flashlight to blind the poor critters for a sec, and then just snatched out and grabbed ’em. The tourists (us) could then pose for photos. In the downtime between caiman photos, we spent the time battling mosquitos. That was a very silly task. During this particular trek I really hated it when someone shined a flashlight, because then you could see the just absolute swarms of mosquitos surrounding us. It was a very, very dense cloud and I have never seen so many mosquitos since. We spent much of the trip rubbing salve over our many many bites.
As I’m writing this I’m trying to remember how much wildlife we actually saw. In some sense it wasn’t all that much, as we cruised down the river there I don’t recall seeing huge troops of monkeys flitting on by in trees or anything like that. We did manage to interact with a large chunk of wildlife, like the caimans I just mentioned, or during a memorable encounter with a sloth I think I will save for next week (not much going on, gonna milk this decade-old trip). I saw a number of animals from far away, as the above photo will attest (the top left photo is a sloth if you couldn’t tell, and the monkey was actually a rather close up one that lived at a lodge we stopped by at). In the mornings I also remember the howler monkeys waking the entire jungle up, and I remember seeing tree branches sway as they made their distaste at our presence known during one early morning trip. Perhaps the coolest thing we saw were some pink dolphins, which we caught only glimpses of. To make up for not having a photo, please enjoy this picture of at least one very pink creature bobbing around in the water:
“But wait!!!!” you exclaim, “What about the piranhas????” Well we did actually see some piranhas; in fact we went fishing for them. As Elso explained to us before encouraging us to jump into the water, the piranhas aren’t particularly dangerous at all during the wet season. With the forest flooded, they can go wherever they want to find food. It was during the dry season, when the piranhas got trapped in ponds with a limited food supply that they become dangerous. No matter what time of year, however, they apparently like steak. Fishing for the piranhas was a fairly straightforward affair; we put a small piece of the aforementioned steak on a fishing hook, and the only trick was you had to yank ’em out of the water real quick as soon as you felt a nibble. Here is me having caught one:
And here is dad proudly displaying our group’s catch for the day:
They later served ’em up to us for lunch. They were good, if a bit bony, and honestly the major appeal was the table-turning nature of it all.
And with that, I think I’ve written enough for this week. I think I can stretch the river boat portion of this thing out for like another few weeks, and then we’ll talk about Manaus itself. Should be a hoot, stick around! Until then, please enjoy this picture of an Amazon sunrise from a canoe:
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