The Rain Forest Lives Up To Its Name

Lynn barely slept last night.  Between the heat, the humidity, and a pulled muscle in her shoulder she was about as uncomfortable as a human could be.  She even spent part of the night lying on the wood floor with a lukewarm (there is no cold water) washcloth on her forehead.  Needless to say, she did not wake up thrilled with excitement to face the day.

After an early carb heavy breakfast (this would become a theme, and not just for breakfast) we headed by boat up the river another twenty minutes where we disembarked and started to hike through the jungle.  We were mostly on an established path but Jose would cut down vines or leaves every once in a while that were starting to encroach upon the trail.  After a little bit we came upon the “canopy walk” which is still under construction but finished enough to walk along.  I use quotes because it is nowhere near the tree canopy, maybe just two feet off the ground.  It certainly made for much faster walking though.

Lynn deboating, ready for a hike through the rain forest.
Lynn deboating, ready for a hike through the rain forest.
The "canopy" walk was a lot closer to a ground walk.
The “canopy” walk was a lot closer to a ground walk.

Twenty minutes later we arrived at our first destination, a cliff of mud and clay about a hundred feet high that hundreds of macaws call home.  Pairs of them have dug out little caves in the mud where they live and raise their baby macaws.  The place was filled with sounds of macaws screaming and after a few pictures we continued on to scale the cliff and admire the views from the top.

Macaws live in these holes in the clay cliffs all along the river.
Macaws live in these holes in the clay cliffs all along the river.
Some very blurry macaws flying by.  They mate for life and are often seen flying around together with their lovers.
Some very blurry macaws flying by. They mate for life and are often seen flying around together with their lovers.

By the time we reached the top the humidity and heat of the jungle were making us quite hot and we welcomed the breeze we found at the summit.  The views were pretty nice as well and we sat at a few of them taking it all in.  Lynn made sure she stayed a safe distance from the edge and was clearly not having very much fun given her lack of sleep, uncomfortable hiking weather, and nagging shoulder injury.

Looking out over the horizon we saw a rainstorm fast approaching and decided to start downhill back towards the boat.  Jose seemed to know we would never make it in time and cut each of us a large banana leaf to use as an umbrella.  Almost on cue the rain started. At first not a whole lot made it down to us through the canopy but as we got towards the steeper portions of the downhill trail the roots and rocks that made up the path got more and more slippery.  Finally at the bottom of the hill the clouds really opened up and our small banana leaves were no match for rain forest rain.

View from the top overlooking the river basin.  You can see the incoming rain storm in the distance.
View from the top overlooking the river basin. You can see the incoming rain storm in the distance.

As we followed the path back out of the forest it was very quickly turning into a swiftly running creek.  What wasn’t flowing water was just inches of mud instead, not really any better.  After a few turns and river fordings that had only been dry beds thirty minutes before, we arrived back at the boat, ducked under the tarp, abandoned our banana leaves, and reached for the ponchos.  The twenty minute boat ride back to camp was pretty miserable with the ponchos and the tarp above us doing little to block the horizontal rain pelting us in the face.

Safely back home we recovered, and changed into some dry clothes before lunch.  After lunch we took some naps and read a bit while we let the rain subside some more.  Around 3:00 Jose came to get us with some galoshes in hand, figuring our own hiking shoes were thoroughly soaked – they were and we gladly accepted.

And then it rained...all afternoon.
And then it rained…all afternoon.

A two hour hike in the rain followed.  While not as miserable as our trek out of the jungle we never really saw anything.  Jose seemed determined to find us some pigs though neither of had really expressed any interest in seeing any.  He took to bushwhacking to find some and for a little while it felt like he was lost but we always luckily ended back up at the main trail.  Just as we were about to give up and head back to camp, a pig that had been hiding in a fallen tree less than two feet from me decided we were too close and darted out past me then Lynn and back up the trail we had just come down. It was quite startling since we had no idea it was there but we managed to see our wild pig.  Horray?

After we got back to camp it was time for showers, dinner, and an early night since we were waking up at 5.45 the next morning.

Jose posing by a vine that is used by shamans for powerful hallucinations.
Jose posing by a vine that is used by shamans for powerful hallucinations.
Lynn modeling a water bottle sling that Jose fashioned for her out of some vines.
Lynn modeling a water bottle sling that Jose fashioned for her out of some vines.

Daily Walking Mileage: 8.3 miles

Fun Fats:

  • Macaws eat the salty mud in their cliff-side homes to neutralize any of the poisons in the myriad fruits they eat.
  • The palm leaves that are used for thatch roofs are woven together to produce a roofing material as waterproof as tar shingles.  It also can last for up to 30 years without replacement.
  • We were originally scheduled to go piranha fishing this afternoon but the lake that the piranhas live in is completely covered in plants and no one wanted to get into the water to clear a spot for us to fish.

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