Leaving the Wilderness
Welcoming Huoarani Boy
Posing Under a Huge Ceiba Tree
Inside a Huoarani HomeHuoarani Living Space
The women sit for us, some open baskets and show us handicrafts, which include purses and bags made from a palm tree. Several are pregnant, some look older than their apparent age, there are several children of all sorts of ages and only two young men. I wonder if the rest of the men are hunting.
We took a walk through the community. There is a meeting hall and a school which is not in session (we are told that the teacher, who is Quichua is away and so school is out). We ran into the Houarani man we had seen on our way down. He was proud to tell us that the hunting party that morning had killed a peccary, which is a prized meal for the community.
A Huoarani Family Joins Us
Pet Woolly Monkey
Sunshine and Success
Sun and Beautiful Skies
The River is Swollen After the Rain
Flowers in the Jungle
Monkey Running Away From Us
After dinner, some of us took a night hike to a stream to look for Eric's fish, without much success. Eric and Giovanni continued the search while Pamela returned to check on her mist nets. She has been collecting bats and recording their echolocation signals with Eric. She collected several bats last night and tonight, and plans to bring some home to the museum at Catolica for further study. They are very strange looking creatures and emit high pitched screams when caught and handled. Eric and Giovanni found one excellent fish specimen, hardly what Eric had hoped for, but my impression with science is that there are many great plans and many near and total misses and Eric keeps on trying and working and hoping to find what he is looking for. He would rather have worked all the time while the rest of us were out hiking, but he was worried about the guiding and wanted to help make the hikes more interesting, which he always does. Unfortunately he was sick again and spent alot of time on the toilet the last two days. I am not sure why he is so often ill and I am always healthy (except I got swine flu and he did not) but I believe that is why he has lost so much weight during his time here and I have not. My flu is better each day. I am not sure if that is because of the Zithromax or the humidity or just time, but I am relieved!
Finding and Seeking
Rain, Rain and More Rain
Squirrel Monkey Peeking at Us
Monkeys Laughing at Us
Woolly Monkey Wondering About Us
The trail is hardly a trail, and it is difficult to see how Giovanni finds his way. We climb up and down hills, cross streams, slosh through mud, balance on logs traversing creeks, he uses his machete to cut a path through the forest and it is often treacherous. As wet as I was yesterday, today I am covered with mud from top to toe, in fact I am not sure I have ever been more dirty in my life. Arriving at the claylick only to wait fruitlessly for animals was a disappointment for all of us. We waited for the sun to come out, apparently the animals wait for the sun to go to the claylick, but the sun never came, so we turned around and walked back to the river.
Claylick was Empty
Blue and Yellow Macaws
Prehistoric CreaturesCaiman Hiding
Eric and Pamela had their mist nets up when we arrived and showed us their bat recordings and the bat they had captured. Very strange looking mammals! The bats have a strange nose that has an attachment at the end that flips up. They have sharp little teeth, and bite at the cloth that they are captured in. They look very frightened. Pamela looks frightened too as she returns from the mist net with each bat. Catching them, handling them, killing them is not so easy.
Rain and Waiting
Breakfast was served across the courtyard in the main building with a tin roof. The sides are open and we have a view of the Shiripuno River and green all around. Our cook is a rotund woman with an attractive small round face and red hair. She is from Columbia and we are told that the Columbians are the best cooks. The driver of the boat and the all round 'go to' guy is Giovanni and he too is from Columbia and very 'guapo'. Javier is our guide, or at least is guiding us this weekend. He ordinarily works for a radio station in Coca but without electricity is unable to stay employed and since he has guided before and there were no other guides to be found, he will take care of us these next three days. His Houarani helper is Eduardo, or that is what he is called; his native name is too difficult to pronounce. Apparently Houaranis change their names regularly, so he may have a different name next month. He is an all around helper and will join us on our hikes.Javier is not a good guide. He walked us for four hours through the forest in the pouring rain and stopped a couple of times, first to explain which vine is used by the Houarani for their poison darts. The vines are boiled and the black remains are cyanide and potent for killing. He stopped by a plant that is used by the locals to treat fever. I know from past visits to the forest that almost every illness or ailment has a treatment found in the plants in the forest. The locals are able to use the forest for all that they need to eat and to treat illness. I wish Javier and Eduardo would have taken the time to explain the wonders of the forest, which confirms the place as magical and unique. The rain poured down and did not stop until we arrived back at the lodge. We ran into a troupe of squirrel monkeys with four hawks hunting them. The monkeys made lots of noise as they jumped from branch to branch. Eric wanted to see the hawks make a kill, but instead they kept following the 50 or more little monkeys making their way across the top of the canopy.
The forest is different on this side than the north of the Napo. It is hilly, so we climbed up and down gullies and crossed streams (which excited Eric because he believed he would find his fish there later tonight). We saw many of the same tree species as we see on the other side of the river, although my impression is that the trees were not as big as I have seen before. This is not a flooded forest. Shiripuno is white water, the streams are black water. What characterizes this side of the Napo are the large mammals,one of which is the capibaras we saw yesterday. There are tapirs and peccaries and jaguars and pumas and ocelots on this side, but of course they are difficult to see because they avoid humans. A colleague of Eric's who was here last year saw a jaguar during her stay. That would be incredible for us. During the rain all the animals stay away and start to move once the rain stops, which is when we saw the monkeys.