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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Caiman Capture

October 6, 2014

In the morning the gang went for canoe rides up the river to go bird watching. 

But Melissa was happy with some quiet time to herself after all the traveling we have been doing.  So she had her cup of tea on the porch of our cabin which overlooks the river.  It is so beautiful here.

But what the gang didn’t know was that you can sit right here and see the birds.  There is a hawk and falcon that must live here because they were both hunting from the trees nearby.  And all sorts of birds land on the railings of the cabins and you can just sit and listen to the jungle sounds and watch them.

Here is a picture of some of the other cabins.  Dave says they should be crossed braced underneath to make them last longer.

However, apparently the gang saw even more birds including Hawks, Egrets, Herons, Toucans, Fly Catchers, Tanagers, Vultures, Falcons, King Fishers, and Anteater Birds,… you get the idea.

 
Photo courtesy Mike Sanderson

 
Photo courtesy Mike Sanderson

 
Photo courtesy Mike Sanderson

At breakfast Juan Carlos spotted a Skink lizard right outside the dining room.  He chased it around like crazy till he caught it.

After breakfast it was time for a walk in the jungle to learn about medicinal plants.  First stop was a termite nest.  These little guys were crawling all over Mike’s hand.  You squish them up and rub them on your skin and they produce a methane gas smell that repels insects like mosquitoes.  Problem is that it is super sticky.

This is a Fire Ant plant.  Notice all the tiny little fire ants running around on the plant.  The plant and the ants live symbiotically – the ants protect the tender leaves from other insects and the plant provides a home for the ants.  So you need to watch out when hiking through the jungle to avoid brushing up against these plants and getting the tiny fire ants on your skin.

These are owl monkeys.  Very unusual to see them as they are nocturnal.  This is a family of three that sat in a tree and watched us – just as fascinated by us as we were by them.


Photo courtesy of Mike Sanderson

This is a plant called Cat’s Claw.  It has stickers that look just like a cat’s claw.  It has several uses.

First, the larger branches can be cut and used for fresh water when you are in the jungle.

And the outer layers of bark can be used to brew a tea that will help with inflammation and psoriasis.  You don’t want to use it every day for years because it could make you blind.

Here’s a little tree frog.

Then we needed to cross a small stream balanced on a log.  John fell in.  Fortunately none of his gear got wet.  Immediately our guide Juan Carlos stripped off his own boots and gave his dry socks to John.  John was super good natured about the whole thing.


Photo courtesy Mike Sanderson

Wilder helps Melissa across the stream so she doesn’t end up wet too.


Photo courtesy Mike Sanderson

Now this walk we are on is truly out in the jungle.  No trails, just guides with machetes cutting a path.  Wilder wandered off for a bit and then started shouting for us all to come running.  He had found a Caiman!

When Melissa played this video at the camp, all the staff came to watch and got a big laugh out of it.

Of course Dave had to poke the caiman with a stick.  What is it with boys and sticks anyway?

Unfortunately Holly started feeling ill – particularly dizzy and it was hard for her to balance, so we took it easy on the way back to the camp.  Juan Carlos carried her back across the stream.  And then again when we got close to camp, Holly was too weak to keep walking and Juan Carlos carried her the rest of the way.  We were reminded of just how far outside civilization we are here as we all worried about Holly.  When we got back Juan Carlos had the kitchen staff make her a solution of sugar and salt water just to make sure she stayed well hydrated, though we didn’t think dehydration was the cause of the dizziness.  Fortunately she was fine by the next day.

When we got back to the camp, Melissa was crossing the main bridge and she stopped to look down at the river.  She managed to kick one of the oil lamps off into the stream.  She hollered to Wilder to help.  He jumped in one of the canoes and rescued the soggy lamp before it dumped all its fuel in the water.  Note that in the rainy season the water comes up to a few feet below the walk ways around the camp.  But in dry season like it is now, it’s a long way down to the stream.

Before dinner we went piranha fishing with Wilder.  Yes, you read that right.  Fishing for piranhas.  Just don’t fall overboard!  Well, it might be more accurate to say we fed the piranha as we caught very few and none big enough to take back and fry up for dinner.  Here is Wilder putting bait – small pieces of raw chicken – on our fishing rods.

Mike was the only gringo to catch one.

Wilder did a bit better as he caught 5 or 6 about this size.

They have VERY big teeth.

As soon as you put a line in the water the little piranhas would grab your bait and steal it.

Then Wilder spotted a sloth in the woods and we all went ashore. When Melissa finished this movie it was also a hit with the crowd.

Midway through fishing it started to pour down rain.  But as is typical of the tropics, it stopped after about a half an hour.

Because we were out on the lake we got to see a bit of the sunset as the moon came up.

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