Amazon 2

Hooray for Captain Spaulding, the Amazon Explorer

Did someone call me schnorrer?
Hooray, Hooray, Hooray.


The Amazon continues to thrust its magic upon us, exposing its biodiversity and natural beauty as we walk atop its canopy, explore its trails in the moonlight, paddle through lagoons, over lakes, hike through the mud or cruise in motor boats up and down the river.


Beauty takes many forms; not all of them pretty but we have a renewed appreciation as to how all of the elements on the planet work together in a harmonious synchronicity, allowing the forces of nature to keep the balance of self regulation that only humanity has the audacity to try to control. Viewing interactions of the forces of nature working in concert, undisturbed for centuries, provides a new perspective on the roles that we all play.

From whence the expression ‘strange bird’

The monkeys stand for honesty

Without trying to sound like Al Gore or David Suzuki, Lori and I come away with a renewed appreciation for how those things are supposed to work and, left to its own volition, the planet will take care of itself long term, with or without mankind’s assistance.

The trees are huge and self-sustaining, the caymans hunt for weak animals,


The cormorants dive for fish,


the bats sleep in the day and eat mosquitos at night (no DEET required).


Snakes are huge,


leaf-cutter ants work incessantly, carrying pieces of cut leafs (hence the name) five times their own size. These millions of bugs bring back fragments of leaves to their nest, chew them up, add moisture and wait for the mush to turn into fungus which is used to feed the colony. Primitive farming and agricultural creativity that predates mankind efforts by millennia. I have tried to communicate with the queen to advise her to head her troops to Toronto, no shortage of Leafs there that should be cut.


Paddling through Lake Sandoval, an oxbow lake created by the meandering nature of the Amazon, Lori was in heaven, the only thing rivalling the incessant clicking of the cicadas was the incessant clicking of her Nikon. Our guide Alan manned the stern; I got to paddle bow for the 3rd time in 2 days and was loving it. A young strapping kid named Hayden ( I would have named him Sterling Planetarium were it up to me), living in the area for several months studying changing patterns in amphibian life, was in the canoe with us. After I paddled us all the way out to the furthest point of our voyage, Sterling graciously offered to paddle the return route. That lasted about 5 minutes. “I’m kinda goofy at this” was his pathetic apology for his stroke that had us turning in virtual circles. B’wana Bruce resumed his rightful role as Amazon Explorer. Wrenching the paddle from the hapless anthropologist, I assumed my position that had been thrust upon me by life forces and got us back to shore, raising a wake behind us that left the anacondas amazed on the river bank. We returned to the lagoon to the sound of their applause.

Our last evening at Inkaterra was devoted to packing up and saying our goodbyes to the helpful staff. My only regret was not being nipped by one of the local piranhas 


to see if the conditions of the allergy situation was mutual. In addition to the piranha problem, our guides informed us of other various forms of pain, misery and death that awaited us in the river. Aside from 10 meter long constrictors as thick as tree trunks, there was your usual assortment of poisonous snakes such as the bushmaster and coral snake. There was an abundance of tarantulas living on the trees within our reserve.

They would just cause a level of discomfort as compared to the chicken spiders who could kill with one bite. And of course in the waters, in addition to the caymans (croc cousins) there were sting rays. I tried to find a 1973 model with the T-tops but to no avail; apparently Steve Irwin beat me to the punch. While power in the resort was sourced via generator, I suggested to the manager that they capture and harness a few of the 6 foot long electric eels that swim near the shore. Their 600 volt how-do-you-dos will either stop your heart on the spot or perhaps merely paralyse your arms and legs allowing you to sink to the bottom of the Amazon to become a tasty desert for the huge catfish that patrol the riverbed. Death from these critters is heavenly when compared to the demise provided by the umbrella fish. This lovely denizen of the deep is only a few inches long. If you decide that you would like to go for a little dip in the Amazon (and why wouldn’t you?), these creatures are attracted by the excretion of bodily fluids such as urine, menstrual flow, feces, etc. They are programmed to enter the human body through any available orifice. Once they wend their way inside, they expand their gills in an umbrella like fashion (hence the name) and the micro hooks on the edges of their now expanded gills prohibit any form of removal that excludes ripping some very sensitive flesh to ribbons. As they work their way into the body – ultimate goal being the intestines- they rip and bite, seeking blood flow to keep them happy. I’d hate to see how an unhappy umbrella fish would react. They gorge themselves on your blood, drinking what they can and allowing the rest to flow out behind them as they bushwhack a trail towards your guts. Ultimately they work their way to kishka central and chomp away at you from the inside out until you die in agony. Suggestion – wear a tight Speedo if you ever feel a burning need to swim the Amazon or the next burning feeling you experience may be more than need. And you wonder why I have an antipathy to fish?

  • tina
    Posted at 22:27h, 10 January Reply

    What seems like your final entry, like all entires before it, make me wish I was there with you guys. What an incredible trip. Safe travels home, I am sure there will be tales to tell of the final flight – Next year in Tanzania???

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