Monday, August 3, 2015

Towering Above The Amazon

Immediately upon arriving in the Amazon, (see the previous posts "It's a Jungle Out There" and "Jungle Bound") we are embarking on our first jungle experience ~ a hike through the rain forest to what they simple refer to as "The Tower".  It sounds sort of ominous.

We have donned our rubber boots, which are functional if not fashionable; we have applied additional layers of sunscreen and insect repellent (it's so thick now it's nearly got visible layers); we've filled our water bottles, and we are ready for adventure.  

Something needs to happen right away to make this misery worth it.   
It's so very hot.  It's so horribly humid.  

It is a different world when we step onto the jungle path. There are creatures and critters and crawlies everywhere; our guides are experts at spotting and pointing them out  to us.

These "leaf-cutter ants" are making their way from their (underground) nest along the forest floor; then up a tall tall tree to saw or "cut" away huge pieces (relative to their body size) of young leaves to take back to their nest.  I assumed this was a food source for them.  But, oddly enough, they do not eat these leaves. 

No, more interesting yet is the fact that they use this fresh vegetation to cultivate fungus; which in turn they harvest  and feed to their larvae.   They are a sort of "fungus farmer".  They call it "mutualism", because the fungus needs the ants to stay alive, and the ants need the fungus to stay alive.  I'm reading up on this now, and I'm dumbfounded to learn that, next to humans, leafcutter ants form the largest and most complex societies on earth; and they are the only species, other than us, who are able to make their own food.  That's definitely food for thought!  

 This little Dusky Titi monkey was a bit camera shy.

  We spotted these gorgeous Macaws in the trees.  
It's amazing to see them in the wild like this.

Even the foliage is very different.  This is a type of banyan tree,
 which we also have in Hawaii.  

We don't have Penis Tree's in Hawaii, though......
Whatever the name of these trees are in their native Quechua language, it translates to something similar to the male organ.....I guess the reason is apparent.

And our guide is telling us about this parasitic vine, which will eventually completely envelope this beautiful tree, and literally suck the life out of it until it is dead.

Sort of like some people I know ~ 
I  don't know about you, but I've learned to avoid them in life.

And finally, here we are.

Oh my goodness.  Is this OSHA approved, I wonder as I stare upwards.......

You may or may not know this about me, but I sort of have a thing about heights. We just don't get along that well.  
This looks very high to me.

But then (and this you probably DO know about me), I hate to miss out on anything.  So, anxious as it makes me, I'm still all-in.

First, though, our guide gives us a pep talk.  I have it video'd.  His exact words are, in his Spanish accent, "This is very safe.  Is very very safe.  You guys see up there?  Each corner has cables.  Is very safe.   However. When we are gonna' go up, is gonna' be a little bit moving, no? Little bit.   But is very very safe.  100%, I guarantee."  

I can't tell you how reassured I am by all this.
Oh my heavens!

So up we go.  I'm intimidated, but if they can all do it, so can I.
At the very least, I won't die alone ~ there will be others screaming and yelling and kicking all the way down along with me.

So I take it slowly.  And methodically.  And I don't look down. 
And, most importantly, I have not one, but two hands clutching the rail at all times.  So I at least know where I might land.

But this.  This is our reward.  Worth the conquering of all our fears.

We are towering high above the rain forest.  
It is magnificent, and stretches unbroken before us 
as far as the eye can see.   

I don't pretend to be an animal photographer ~ but we spot a pair of Macaw parrots flying ~ above the trees, mind you ~ 
I think it's magnificent.

So I'm proud of myself. And I'm delighted that I did not miss out on seeing something so rare and wonderful.

Now it's back to the lodge for dinner, and, even in the heat I'm famished.  There's just enough time for Mr. C to put his feet up for a moment of relaxation.   This is inside our room, by the way.  Only 3 walls, the fourth is open to the jungle.  So you can get the full experience.

Because everything runs off big generators, there is only electricity for a few hours each day.  They are lighting our way to dinner and back, but they shut it down by 10PM.   It's very dark in the jungle at night without lights.........

We're excited about dinner, but we're really excited about having a cold beer.  More because cold than because it's beer.  Remember, we can't drink the water here in Peru.  They have big jugs of purified water  for us, but there's no refrigeration or ice cubes in sight.  So we settle for beer, and we're just so grateful to have something that's cold. 

The food is delicious, and I vow to visit the kitchen before I leave here.  It's served buffet style, and it's served with love.  We started with "Celery Cream" soup; followed by Chicken Patarashka.  This is a dish that's native to the Peruvian jungle ~ except they used hualo (giant frog)!  I prefer chicken, thank you very much. The meat is seasoned with fresh herbs, then tomatoes and onions are added, and it's all wrapped in bijao leaves and cooked over coals.  It was truly delicious.  A big pot of lentils, which I happen to love, gets served over the rice.

And I love this presentation of fresh veggies.  
Colorful, beautiful, and easy to select your favorites.

The menu for each day of the week is posted on their website. There's always a vegetarian choice, and they were happy to accommodate those with special dietary requests.  I'll be posting today's recipes for you, watch for them.  You can skip the purple corn custard we had for dessert, though, served with glazed sweet potato sides. I wouldn't lie to you.

It's been a very long (three blog post) day (four if you count recipes); and now we make our way back to our room, wishing, hoping beyond hope that it's cooler there.  And why would it be, right?   It's still bloody hot and humid. I can take it during the day, but oh my goodness, I just can't sleep with sweat rolling off me. 

They have made out the mosquito netting for us, which is nothing like I thought mosquito netting would be like.  I always thought it was thin and air could penetrate, but, no. It's as thick as a blanket, and it's all tucked in at the bottom, too,  so the creepy crawlies can't climb up the bedpost to join you.   I'm so hot, and, on top if it, now I'm claustrophobic from being zipped up in this air-tight box.  

And as I look at our fourth "wall", I'm also wondering what creatures might come calling after hours. Maybe I'm happy about my airtight box after all.  Now I'm wondering just how much this mosquito netting can hold at bay.  

I think it might be a long (sleepless) night in the rain forest.



  1. Soooooo glad you did this for us! I really don't want to go there!
    Dianna L

    1. We are saying we're glad we did it -- 'cause we'll never have to do it again! Wait till you see the piranhas........

  2. Wow - you are amazing! I love seeing all your adventures Sherrie!!!
    Dianna W

    1. Says the woman who has been all over the world! Thanks for traveling along, Dianna W ~~ This trip was chock full of adventure!

      Next time I'm looking for relaxation ~ just sayin'.


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