Exploring The Amazons (Part One)

By BobbyRica | February 28, 2012

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This time, I went on my own, in a river boat cruise to the Amazon. My first experiences in Peru had not deterred me from wanting to explore these strange waters. The first thing in my mind were the mythical piranha. It turns out they were not as terrifying as I thought they were. Different species of piranhas exist and it just so happens I scheduled my trip when the dangerous ones were not in season. And so the trip became a way to clear up a lot of the myths I knew about the Amazon and to discover the real beauty that inhabits within it.

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Throughout the trip I could not help imagining all those cannibal movies I had seen as a child. They were all fiction, of course, but the mind has a way of tricking you into imagining things that weren’t there. This little bout of paranoia was going to haunt me later.

On the other hand, the great thing remembering those old cannibal movies was remembering how beautiful the wilderness looked. Somehow, even they could not do justice to what I finally managed to see first hand. The sounds of villages, birds and wild animals rang out in a cacophony of color that matched the vibrancy of the sights we saw. Trees were not a single hue of green and brown. All manner of vines and tree climbing plants intertwined within them, generously coloring the forest with flowers and fruits.

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And the wildlife! Our imagination would come to life as giant cats and snakes lying in the shade would suddenly start moving, ruffling leaves to alert us of their appearance. Occasionally, we would actually see a hind leg, a snake trunk. If you looked really close below the ground, frogs, bats, lizards and other smaller animals created a moving tableau of activity. And of course, birds where everywhere you looked, and you did not really have to go out of your way to find them. I do have to add, this being nature at its raw, not all the tableaus we saw were pleasant to look at.

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Over at the local Amazon reserve, we had the opportunity to see many of these animals up close, in an arrangement that was safe for both parties. We essentially booked a day in the conveniently placed eco-lodges, and were then brought around by a local guide. For the most part, there were no giant animals to pose any danger to us, but there was always a chance we would come across those poisonous dart frogs. I hate to admit it, but all the danger made it more exciting! What can I say, that is human nature.

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And then, we went piranha fishing. Yes, believe it or not, some species of piranha can be fished. It appeared the locals were willing to risk their fingers to catch the dangerous ones, as fittingly enough, they were the most delicious kind. We did not have special equipment to do it either. We used no more than makeshift rods made of bamboo and fishing lines. I had no lack of experience across Cuba’s shores, so I managed to reel in a few of the little sharp toothed monsters. To my surprise, piranha meat is soft and very meaty. Smoking the meat brought out a lot of its flavor.

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As you can imagine, we spent parts of the seven day itinerary in Amazon in the river boat and parts of it boarding onto local villages and other inhabited pockets in the midst of the jungle. In one of our drops, I decided to spend a few hours to fish some more piranha on my own. I was too sure of myself, and let myself get complacent wiling the hours away the fear and letting my catch pile up.

It took a few hours before I noticed that I had run out of chum. I was forced to stand up to ask for more, than noticed that I was alone.

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Where was the tour guide who brought me here? Who was he, anyway? I looked around my surroundings, realizing I had not brought much clothes with me. No cell phone, no gadgets and no wallet with me (not that money would have been any use to me here.)

That was when it dawned on me. Was I just left behind? It was here that my paranoia would give way to tense emotions. And so I failed to notice the slithering sound around me…

(to be continued…)

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