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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Swimming in the Amazon

October 7, 2014

First thing this morning Wilder told us that overnight an electric eel had been caught in the net they stretched across the stream.  We all came to see it.

Wilder tried to free it from the net with a wet stick.  That was a mistake.

 
Photo courtesy Mike Sanderson

The eel was pretty weird looking.

 
Photo courtesy Mike Sanderson

Then it was time to head out on the boat to look for dolphins.  First stop was this lily pad pond.  Ever seen a lily pad this big?

The white flowers that grow among the lily pads are used like cabbage.

We made our way back down the tributary to the Amazon River itself.  While the day started out rainy, later it turned into a beautiful day.

We stopped on this beach on the Amazon River that was made of very soft dark volcanic sand.

 

Dave found a lizard and gave it to Mike to play with.

And right off Juan Carlos and Alex started to show off.

The beach was filled with a black eyed pea field and a worker was out picking them.  So we stopped to help for a while.

Then it was time for a swim.  They probably shouldn’t have taken us piranha fishing and shown us the electric eel first.  The water was running pretty fast and if you got over chest high in it you couldn’t make headway against the current.  It was so muddy that you couldn’t see more than 4 inches below the surface.  But we had a chicken fight anyway.


Photo Courtesy of John Coffey


Photo Courtesy of John Coffey

Juan Carlos told us that if we swam and splashed that the dolphins might pay us a visit.  But alas that didn’t work, so we headed up the river and found a pod of them feeding on the fish.  The first thing you will see in the video is Wilder splashing about trying to attract the dolphins.  We think this works because splashing around makes them think there are fish splashing.  Most of what you see will be grey river dolphins.  But at the 35 second mark we manage to very briefly catch a pink dolphin, though it’s not far enough out of the water to really see the color.  But you should be able to see how different the fin configuration on its back is.  This represents the “highlights” filmed over about 30 minutes time while we were on the river bank observing.

Then it was time to go across the river to the rum distillery to taste some local rum.  Alas the rum maker’s geese had other ideas.

As the rum maker was taking a nap when we arrived, we crossed the rickety bridge to the nearby town to find a house that had some of his rum for sale.

 This lady was kind enough to let us taste some of her stash.

There were two kinds – clear pure sugar cane alcohol, and the rum.  The rum was made using the clear alcohol with some tree bark additive.  They call it “Jungle Rum”.  It actually tasted pretty decent, so we bought a bottle of the pure sugar cane alcohol figuring we could talk the camp cook out of some fruit juice and make some punch.  The bottle cost us $0.60 US.

A bunch of the local kids had been following us since we got to the dock.  So after we bought the rum, it was time for everyone to introduce themselves.  Juan Carlos made the kids sing us a song, after which we bought them some candy. Juan Carlos explained later that we must never give the children something without making them work for it first or they would learn to live on handouts.

On the way back to the boat, Juan Carlos made us stop and look at this plant.  He then tore off one of the flowers for each of us and made us chew it for 30 seconds, then spit it out.  Turns out this is wild chamomile – and it is a natural anesthetic.  You can boil it and put it on your skin to sooth injuries.  It made our mouths feel sort of Novocained for a few minutes.

Kids are prevalent here in the jungle.  This is the local school bus.

This character was being taught by his Dad how to drive the odd long shaft motors they use here.  He took up the casual “I do this all the time” arm on the motor pose as soon as he spotted the cameras.

And as this picture shows, they start them boating when they aver quite small.  Note both the girl with the paddle larger than she is, and Mom holding the baby.

We stopped on the way back to the camp at a woman’s house.  Earlier this morning we were there so Juan Carlos had brought her some medicine.  On our way back she flagged us down to give us melons.  Juan Carlos insisted on paying her for them though because even though she had a ton of melons growing in her yard, the $3 US he paid her for the melons would mean a lot more to her than it did to him.

At around 9pm Wilder came knocking on our cabin door.  Dave was already asleep but Melissa was awake.  Wilder said to come quick because he had caught a boa on the roof of the main cabin.

We took turns holding him, Melissa managed even in her PJs.

 

After we were finished taking pictures, Wilder instructed Mike to put him on the cabin railing.  He was one unhappy snake and curled himself up ready to strike out at anyone that got too close.

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