Saturday, April 3, 2010

Rain, Rain and More Rain

Big Trees on Tierra Firma

It rained all night, Maya cried in terror, so I joined her in her tiny bed under the mosquito net, cuddling closely so I would not fall out, holding her tight to calm her, trying to will away the pain in my head. I was again relieved to be alive in the morning, and felt assured that nothing too terrible had happened to me, and that I would be fine.

It was raining furiously. Water had leaked into the bathroom and onto the floor in the bedroom. I had taken a short cold shower yesterday, but could not imagine taking one today, so I pretended to be fresh in clean clothes and deodorant, and joined our group for breakfast of fruit and granola and crummy coffee.

Our goal for the day was to motor out to the lagoon and take a three hour walk on terra firma. The rain let up a little and we hid our packs under huge rain ponchos. There were many dinosaur looking birds trying to dry their wings on the trees near the river. Greater ani, red headed cardinals, kingfishers and yellow headed vutures revealed themselves, as did a lone monk saki monkey and some white faced capuchin monkeys. The lagoon was eerie and surprisingly calm, its waters dark and impenetrable.

Dung Beatle

Looking Up at Canopy

I discovered how many bugbites I had all over my body this morning. Usually I am more vigilant, but this time I had more than usual. It appeared that the mosquitoes had been biting through my clothes. I never had the impression that there were many buzzing around;these ones were efficient without appearing bothersome. I resolved to use much more DEET!

The animals were hiding after the rain. I heard macaws screeching, parrots flying by, a 'laughing vulture' believed by the locals to be announcing someone's death, a screaming piha (very elusive and rarely seen), and saw a striated heron briefly near the lagoon. Diego focused on plants and their uses. There is a tree with leaves that stick to clothes and are used for decoration, a tree with a lovely lemon smell used to build houses, a basket weaving palm tree, vines to swing with, a special sap to make fire with, a chewing gun tree, and termites to keep bugs away. My impression is that almost every tree or bush has some sort of use to indigenous people.

Climbing Up Trees the Houarani Way

Using Sap to Make Fire

To get back to the boat, we had to traverse a very marshy area, where many of us sunk so deep into the mud that water ran into our boots. I was not sure if I was dizzy or uncoordinated because of my aching head, but I managed to fall into the swamp and get my camera wet, which upset me of course. Diego was far ahead, for whatever reason he was not particularly interested in the hike, and was most eager to get to a nearby lagoon to go fishing. We made our way to the lodge for lunch and a siesta and joined him later to fish for piranha. He and Gerd had caught some piranha and a yellow fish more suitable for dinner. Our efforts at piranha fishing were fruitless. Gerd told us that a nearby lagoon was better for fishing, but was only accessible by canoe, so we tried on the Laguna Grande as the sun went down, again without success.

Climbing Trees


We waited until it was dark to search for caiman, and found a few massive ones, who kept their distance, and came closer only to gobble up the piranha meat Diego threw out to them, and then to quickly disappear into the dark water. Our ride home without light was disconcerting. Diego had us turnoff our flashlights, because it is easier for the boatman to drive in the dark, using the shadows and the stars in the cloudy sky to find his way home. I was thankful to see the candle on the dock indicating that we had made it back safely.


Maya Under a Mosquito Net

Lagoon at Night

Cormorant at Sunset

Good Night

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