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Archive for January, 2009

On Again, Off Again, On Again


Sorry that I haven’t been totally constant with my blog. I have been very busy so far, but this weekend am heading up to the Catskills so should be able to tell you all about that soon enough.

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Remember the dog days of summer?  Click on the photo for the music.

Remember the dog days of summer? Click on the photo for the music.

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An Appalachian Spring

An Appalachian Spring

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Well, my vacation is over.  I will need some time to get back in the swing of things, so I will be posting only short bits for a while.  I hope nobody is too disappointed.

Click on the Picture for the Music

Sunrise over the snowy crest: Click on the Picture for the Music

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On this 10 day kayaking trip, the last adventure on our journey, we shall travel down the Amazon River.   The Amazon is a silt, white water river.  We begin our trip and pass through the high, luscious rainforest with yellow and blue macaws screeching in the canopy.  Our first camp is situated in front of a 25 meter cliff where tiny orchid plants grip the vertical rocky wall.  We wake up early in the morning to spot some wildlife and get to see another family of giant otters playfully frisking about in the water, gracefully gliding through the river. 

The Amazon River

The Amazon River

As we set out for our second day, we move through a rather narrow portion of the river, the jungle seems to be closing in on us from all sides, it is so thick.  The terrain here is a mixture of huge caverns and rich jungle foliage.  Near the evening, we see a truly magnificent creature.  Although not quite as rare as the Patagonian Puma, the Jaguar is a very enigmatic creature.  It moves so quietly that it seems not to be even treading on the ground.  We watch it for a while on the far bank and then it moves off into the jungle.  At night we hear the flutter of bats flying out of the cavern not too far away.  Fortunately, they are not vampire bats, which will suck blood from your fingertips and toes while you sleep and very possibly give you rabies.

Sunrise is the best time for giant Black piranha fishing.  We take our kayaks and go fishing.  It is best to slap the water with your bait, so as to get the piranha’s attention.  But be careful.  Make sure they are dead or you may get bitten.  Since we are here at the onset of the rainy season, the banks are already a bit flooded, but the river is still not swollen.  We have already experienced some torrential downpours, rain pattering away on our tents like hammers.   The next morning as we set out again we are moving through prime monkey territory.   Capuchin, Squirrel, and Saki monkeys float from branch to branch with amazing agility.  We also see colorful rainforest birds like toucans, macaws, and hoatzins-a prehistoric bird  Later we see some larger mammals crossing the river like deer and Capybaras.   I take us into the rainforest before dark, opening the way with machetes and stopping here and there when interesting medicinal plants like the give and take tree and sangre de drago (the former being a good source of resin and the latter being a natural antiseptic, resins to make torches, and water-are found.  On our way back to camp, we see the magnificent harpy eagle perched high in the canopy.  In the morning, we take a morning dip in the cool water: a truly invigorating experience.  We set out again.  Once in awhile, some fresh water dolphins will come around the kayaks, as they are curious to see how similar their nose shape is compared with the kayak beaks. Nearing evening, we see the Tapirs, large mammals up to 250 kg/550 lbs, sleeping near the bank.   We also see some speckled caiman, crocodilian creatures that prowl these freshwaters for meals. 

Today, we paddle through a mountainous region.  The valleys are deep, so we can hear howler monkey cries echoing far away.  On the banks, we find some Brazil nut trees and decide to make camp here.  At night, we are awakened to the paca rustling past our tents.  In the early morning, we see another amazing sight.  A harpy eagle spotted a giant three toed sloth and grabbed it from the tree.  The sloth had no chance, the eagle’s talons and broad wings helping with the kill.  Underfoot, leaf cutter ants march in prosecion  carrying heavy loads.  The adventurous and hungry in our group grab a few and snack on them.  They are about as delicious as insects go, having a wonderful zingy, lemony flavor.  We also try the slender Abacaba or Acai palm tree’s heart and coconuts.  These sweet plants placate everyone’s rumbling stomachs.  On a special night kayak outing, we spot a giant anaconda making its way through the water.  Just don’t fall in the water or you could be in real trouble.  We also see the eyes of caiman and other animals like insects and spiders in our beams. 

After a few more days of kayaking, we visit a local native American tribe here.  Some are still hostile, but this group is very friendly and gratefuly accept us.  We mingle with them and learn much about their indigenous culture.  The next day, we travel to the headwaters where there is a gorgeous waterfall.  We’ll also camp in this area.  

It is our last day on the Amazon.  We spend the day on the white sand beaches relaxing and then heading out to a small town on the coast.  From there we shall be shipped back home. 

I hope you enjoyed our great adventure.  I certainly did.

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