There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron

Definition of Walkabout :

a short period of wandering as an occasional interruption of regular work
Showing posts with label Amazon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amazon. Show all posts

03 November 2012

ending in Iquitos

It's been ten months since my solo trip to the amazing country of Peru. My final thoughts of this adventure are of our last night on the Aqua with the crew, and then seeing the isolated town of Iquitos.

We started our final evening learning how to make Pisco sour's ( the official drink of Peru ), and ceviche, a raw fish delicacy. Both were amazing, although I doubt I could re-create either very well.
the chef making ceviche
The crew then broke out into a variety of songs, leading to dancing and general revelry by all. Without a doubt a night I will always remember, not only for the hospitality, but the friendships formed with both passengers and crew.

We docked early the next morning in Iquitos. Cut off from the rest of the country by jungle and the mighty Amazonian river herself, the town has old world charm unique to the culture and people that live here.

As we walked the streets, I notice the graffiti here and there. The street art captivates the artist in me ( or at least the artist I wish to be).

We go to a market to see what the locals have on display. One shop in particular catches my eye, showcasing absolutely beautiful hand carved wood pieces. I remember being hesitant about spending the "tourist price", but upon reflection, wish I had.
Lesson learned.

I continue exploring the market, mingling with the people and just enjoying the day. It was not even noon, but in Iquitos, time doesn't seem to have much relevance. If you feel like a siesta, it's siesta time.

From the people to the climate, I will always cherish my time in Iquitos. Adios amigos!

Please enjoy a snippet of the crew of the Aqua singing for us...

30 June 2012

Sloths, clown frogs, & other forest creatures...

In addition to the many species of monkey in the Amazon, we were privy to witness a host of other creatures as well.
One of the most interesting animals to me was the sloth. A strange, childlike creature hanging in the branches along the river's banks.

You could actually see the moss growing on their backs due to the animal's slow nature. The guide tells us that they only poop once a month, but their digestive system is slow enough to accommodate.

On the slow moving river, we search for little jumping clown frogs in the lillys, their brightly covered skin making them easy to spot. Pink river dolphins surface and playfully spray water, as if trying to get our attention.

With my morning coffee on the boat deck, I spot a gigantic tarantula slowly making it's way along. An iguana is hanging in the trees watching the creature as well, although I suspect his purpose is different than mine.

Parrots sing and dance, while larger birds of prey silently wait for a meal. A local fisherman shows us the good luck he had that day, not fish but an Anaconda he caught for good luck.

The jungle holds such a wondrous mystery, don't you think?

19 April 2012

Trichechus inunguis

One of only four species in the world, this manatee's habitat ( trichechus inunguis) is restricted to the Amazonian basin. In the small, cutoff town of Iquitos, Peru lies the non profit, nongovernmental, fully run by volunteers organization, the Amazonian Manatee Rescue Center.
Walking into the rescue center you can feel and see the need for funding. You can also sense the care and dedication of the people working to help save this beautiful endangered species. We saw babies in small tanks, trying to just survive, moving slowly as they were recuperating from the trauma they endured out in the wild.

There is hope though, as the volunteers have successfully raised small abandoned manatee babies from the wild after their parents were murdered to grow into young, healthy manatee's here at the center. They let us feed these younglings, and you truly get the sense of their playfulness and wonder.

I don't know what it is about these creatures that I love, but putting my hand to their skin, having their whiskers tickle my bare arm whilst they suckle the bottle of milk that I was feeding them was a moment of connectness with nature that I'll never forget.

Won't you please Save the Manatee?

07 April 2012

The Phoenix Foundation

Frackity Frack, there is no looking back...

He feels the heavy weight of despair upon slumped shoulders. Gravity is slowly winning everyday. He realizes it isn't so much the actual work he minds, but the triviality of the daily process.

Get it together old man, only for a little while longer. 

The constant gnawing to do something greater than yourself, see life with different eyes, step into the unknown, is a powerful force.
not to be ignored.

He will stave off the loneliness by remembering simple things. He will pace himself so that his heart does not break or wear down from the ticking of time.

The social awkwardness of the silent is sometimes their hidden genius.

07 March 2012

Giant lillypads, double rainbows & and other ponderous musings...

Have you caught the glint of a winter's sun dancing on foreign waters, and felt old spirits in your soul?
Have you looked upon the splendor of nature, and found tears flowing across your cheeks from the sheer beauty?
Have you had the sweat of the day cooled down by a single black rain cloud, then peer through the raindrops to see a double rainbow?
Have you screamed with simultaneous joy and terror while searching for your biggest fear?
Have you ever had a day so fun of wonder? I hope so....

19 February 2012

A canoe...

Beyond the shimmering sun along the water, I make out faint images gliding toward us. Local Amazonian people in dugout canoes. As they approach and encircle us, we are offered to go for a ride, providing we don't mind rowing. A young boy, no more than ten years old, pulls up and I hop in. The home made canoe takes some quick balancing to make sure I don't tip us both over, but soon that is mastered and we are gliding along the Amazonian lake.
I use my Spanglish to try and communicate, but the boy just smiles, nods his head, and keeps rowing. I give up, and we just row past dolphins playing in the afternoon heat. After a time, the heat of the day in contrast to the cool black water becomes too much, and we end up stripping off clothes and diving in.
Refreshed again, we head to the local village on shore to scores of people waiting to see the newest visitors to their homeland. These people are not destitute and unhappy as my preconceived notions had concocted, but full of life and joy. I realize that the items I brought for them will not enrich their lives, but is more of an offering of thankfulness for being in their part of the world. It is a show of kindness and faith in humanity.
It is a well received message on both parts.
As we leave the village and head back to the Aqua, more children are playing along the river, nakedly jumping and splashing in the water, content in this beautiful land.
Who knew a canoe would lead to such a conclusion?

11 February 2012


Red tail.
Michael Jackson. ( the local name for the black & white colored ones)

The names seemed as endless as the species before my eyes. Jungle sounds that would shake the trees, and my foundation. Kong's beauty  and appeal was apparent in the Amazon.
I think about Darwin's theory, and wonder if evolution went too far.

Or maybe I am just dreaming of living in a tree, being free.
 Monkey see, monkey do.

05 February 2012

the Green Waters of Mother Earth

The hairs on my arms stood at full attention as the skiff came toward us. Electricity was in the atmosphere, literally and figuratively, and my mind was charged with excitement.
The boat motor roared to life up the tributary, the air rushing to the nostrils and filling my senses.
As the channel narrowed and the jungle closed in around us, I felt for a moment as though I was on the Adventure land ride at Disney, but instead of mechanical animals making sounds through hidden speakers, our boat was dodging killer wasp nests, spiders from overhanging bushes, and listening to howler monkeys playing in the shadows.
We passed many a local, working in the jungle transporting timber down the river, fishing so they could feed their families, moving produce to other villages. Most would smile and wave, others would just stare with a feeling in their eyes of curiosity in what we must see in their homeland.
Oh, how the green Amazonian waters of the great Mother Earth astound me.

27 January 2012

stick fishing

Some of my earliest, happiest memories involve fishing. Sitting with my Mom and Pop along a lake shore as a child, biking with my best friends to a local pond during the long summer vacations as a kid, and more recently sitting solitary along a slow moving river just reading and enjoying nature.
But I'd never thought I would be stick fishing for piranhas in the Amazon.
"Life is funny" I thought as I was handed a raw chunk of beef to use as bait. With the line only being about fifteen feet long at the most, tied to a five foot stick, I flung the raw meat as far as possible into the green water, letting my natural fishing instincts kick in.
It wasn't more than a few seconds when I felt the first hard bite. I soon got a feel for how the fish were hitting the bait, and before long I was flinging piranha's into our boat, to the amazement of the other fishers and the guide.
I was in heaven.
The others kept asking me for my secret, but I didn't have one. It would be like asking Michael Jordan how to play basketball, or Stephen King how to write horror.
You just do.
As tales of fishing go, this day was one that will be drifting at the top.

25 January 2012


"Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?"
-Indiana Jones

I knew when I planned my Amazonian adventure that the likelihood of facing my biggest fear, snakes, had a good chance of looking me right in the face. What surprised me was how I handled it.
At the end of our morning excursion, we were told that we were going to head to shore to go on a jungle hike, and visit with a local village.
I was excited for this until our guide, Roland, had me put on knee high rubbers, as they would "help" protect us from any snake bites.
Change of underwear please....
I was petrified hiking around in the tall jungle grass, whipping my walking stick at anything that remotely seemed to slither. I'm sure the others thought I was a complete nut job.
We saw the most colourful of insects and plants, but most of my pictures, not to mention my memory, is fuzzy as I really couldn't concentrate.
Due to the heavy rains the Amazon had been receiving as of late, the trail was underwater by a few feet. We walked until the water was knee high, and then decided to turn around and go back to the village, as the high water was too dangerous, and could be full of hidden surprises.
like gigantic man eating snakes...
When we arrived to a local hut our guide Roland went to talk to the man of the house whilst we played with the children. Speaking very little Spanish, I showed them pictures on my camera, and they marveled at my jewelry, skin, and clothing I was wearing.

Roland came back with a big smile on his face. He proceeded to tell us that the man was out fishing earlier and caught himself an Anaconda, and brought it back home. It is considered very good luck to have this snake in your home, as it is believed that all bad luck will be absorbed by the snake, and will not fall onto the people of the village.
another change of underwear please....
Dennis was a brave member of our group that seemed to have no problems with going right up and holding the creature. My friend Emma decided to be next as long as Dennis would be there to hold the head ( I found out later she was pretty scared herself)

Dennis helping Emma get up close & personal

Roland then asked if anyone else wanted to hold it. I knew I couldn't back down, and with my heart beating outside my chest, I faced my fears. 

I felt its smooth muscular body wrap itself around my arm as I stared into it's cold black eyes. My fear was replaced with simple bewilderment and wonder. Dennis brought it closer to my face. The snake open it's mouth and hissed, its eyes never leaving mine.

After this, we walked into the village where the locals had trinkets they had made to sell. We gave them some items some of us had brought; shirts, toiletries, pens and paper...more to show our appreciation for letting us into their village than it was given to them as something they needed. These people seemed more than content with their life, and I was envious of their life compared to the world of consumerism,selfishness, and greed that I see daily back home.
I brought with me beaded necklaces that my friends from Kenya had made. I thought it would be a nice gesture to give them to the girls and women here. A token of gratitude with a gift made on the other side of the world. 

21 January 2012

An afternoon among river dolphins, an evening of caimans...

As I was marveling in my surroundings, droplets of water spray dancing lightly on my cheeks from the skiff, a family of river dolphins simultaneously arch from the Amazon in synchronicity. Their palpable joy is infectious.

They play in the wake of the skiff, showing personality unlike anything I've ever seen from nature. We slow down the skiff as we come to an area were two tributaries meet, and my eyes rest upon new creatures, pink river dolphins, making their presence known. They rise from the black water like a Loch Ness monster, showing their unique body quickly before disappearing again.
A rain storm comes out of the blue sky suddenly, and knowingly the dolphins dissipate. Our guides seem unaffected by the approaching black clouds, and surprise us with a champagne toast as the sun sets behind the approaching storm.
As night surrounds us and the rain falls, we are told that it is time to look for caiman's, the Amazonian equivalent of an alligator. With a powerful flashlight in hand, our guide pans over the Amazonian waters, searching for the bright eyes of the prehistoric creature.
Excitedly, he motions to the skiff driver to go closer to shore. As the boat slows, he keeps a steady hand holding the flashlight on a spot in the water, and then quickly dives his arm in the darkness, and pulls up my first view of a caiman.
Soaked and ecstatic, I hold the animal tightly, feeling a rapid heartbeat through its skin. I look in its eyes and realize it is looking back at me with terror. I release it into the water, my own heart racing.
Just another amazing day in the jungle.

14 January 2012

feeling like Conrad, exploring like Magellan

After a night of delicious Peruvian food and wine, I slept soundly to the sounds of the water lapping against the side of the boat as we headed deep into the Amazonian jungle.
My dreams were filled with Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.
 "The brown current ran swiftly out of the heart of darkness, bearing us down towards the sea with twice the speed of our upward progress; and life was running swiftly, too, ebbing, ebbing out of his heart into the sea of inexorable time. . . . I saw the time approaching when I would be left alone of the party of ‘unsound method.’”
The next morning after breaky, feeling brave and full of the spirit of Magellan, I boarded the skiff for the first adventure of many to come. Local children emerged from the lush jungle to see the new arrivals. I smile and wave, but our strangeness overcomes any reciprocation.
As we leave the mighty Amazon and head into a tributary, the trees swallow us like the tale of Jonah and the whale. Head spinning like a top, we search high for birds, monkeys, and sloths, while wary of snakes from the water and low handing tree branches.
I'm experiencing sensory overload.....
You hear more than you see, realizing that life in the jungle will not be readily on display. The soundtrack though is stimulation enough, with screaming noisy night monkeys, the call of toucans, macaws, and birds of prey. The leaves in the trees rustle and quiver as it's inhabitants watch us from their lair.
Unnervingly, I realize that just as many creatures lurk in the water below, giant fish, slithering monsters, ancient reptiles....and one leaps from the water into our skiff!
Luckily, it was a small barracuda, though it's razor sharp teeth look menacing.
Day one doesn't disappoint. As we leave to head back for lunch, a local family of fishers are floating down the great Amazon with their catch of catfish. Their boat has a fire for cooking, a net for keeping their fish alive and fresh until they reach a town to sell them, laundry hanging from string. A first glimpse into the lives of the locals.

All in a day along the river of life.

13 January 2012

Paradise found

Great things, and full of wonder in our eares,
Farr differing from this World, thou hast reveal'd
Divine interpreter, by favour sent
Down from the Empyrean to forewarne
Us timely of what might else have bin our loss,
Unknown, which human knowledg could not reach:
For which to the infinitly Good we owe
 -from Paradise Lost, Milton.
As if I had somehow slid down the brush of a great painter and fallen onto his canvas, the scenes before me created as I landed. Trapped in continual artistry, colors splashed with reckless allure, sensual clouds would swirl and billow with ease.
The skies would open, and the freshest of rains would cleanse your mind, the earth drinking the sweet drops. Minutes later your skin would pour sweat down your back from radiant rays of sunshine. All one could do was put your feet up and contemplate God, or Milton. 
or Nature.
From black water to green water,
sunrise to sunset,
rain or shine,
The Amazon goes on.