Literally Scaring The Shit Out Of Birds

We awoke at 5.45 again this morning but without an alarm.  After a peaceful night, a rainstorm had started outside and woke both of us up.  We continued to snooze through it, enjoying the sounds of rain falling outside and an occasional falling tree branch.  Breakfast had been planned for 7.30 but the rain had only gotten heavier by that point and no one had come to get us yet as they had for every other meal.  So instead we continued to lay in bed and listen to haunting sounds of the howler monkeys that had started echoing through the forest.

Around 8.00 the rain let up a bit and we were getting hungry so we donned our rain clothes and ran through the flooded paths to the dining hall.  Even though everyone else was already inside they seemed surprised to see us.  We hung up our rain coats on some nails in the wall and sat down to breakfast.  Last night at dinner we had been told today would be a full day boat trip, heading out in the morning with packed lunches and not returning until dinner.  Neither of us were very excited to go back out in the rain and thankfully we didn’t need to let Jose know because we had already decided we would postpone our boat trip until the rain subsided.

Another rain day, this time in the pampas.
Another rain day, this time in the pampas.

After breakfast we ran back to our hut and napped and read the rest of the morning away.  By 11.45 the rain seemed to have mostly stopped and Jose came over with more galoshes for us and let us know that lunch would soon be ready.  He too had just awoken from a rainy day nap, and we all met back up in the dining hall for another round of food.

After lunch we had a few minutes to get ready so we grabbed the camera, our rain gear, sunglasses, and a hat for Lynn and showered each other in mosquito spray.  We had learned on day two in the rain forest that after the rain stops the mosquitoes come out in full force.  It feels a bit different to be spraying bug spray on yourself in South America.  Back home it’s a lot less of an issue to be fully covered.  The only punishment is a nuisance bite and an itchy spot for a few days.  In South America dengue fever and now zika virus are both very real and a small mosquito bite can have serious consequences on the rest of your life.  On one of our first nights Jose had really driven the point home when he told us about a dengue fever outbreak in Rurrenebaque last year – luckily it had only been dry dengue, not the kind that makes you bleed to death out of every orifice.  We made sure to use the bug spray with extra DEET, advertised as having Extra Duracion!

As prepared as we could be for the mosquitos, we headed down to the river and loaded up in our long boat.  For the next six hours we saw a nonstop parade of flamboyant tropical birds, caiman, and monkeys.  As we would approach the birds would poop themselves and fly further down river, the caiman would very creepily slip below the surface, and the monkeys would come close to investigate, even hopping into our boat on occasion.  We also seemed to be chasing Amazon River dolphins up and down the river and we delighted in trying to spot where they would surface next.  Our favorite creatures were the capybaras, imagine a guinea pig the size of a big German Shepherd.  They would twitch their little ears and lazily chew their mouths at us as we floated past.  The whole trip was very lovely except for some off and on rain showers, they were mostly held to a drizzle though and our ponchos worked fine to keep us dry.

A Cocoi Heron.  We say probably a billion of these but they never got old.  They were our favorite bird because of the Zorro mask they wear, including little black feathers hanging behind their heads like strings from the mask.
A cocoi heron. We saw probably a billion of these but they never got old. They were our favorite bird because of the Zorro mask they wear, including little black feathers hanging behind their heads like strings from the mask.
Another Cocoi Heron flying away.
Another cocoi heron flying away.
A great heron flying away.
A great heron flying away.
Paradise birds (also called Hoatzin) in the trees.  They were everywhere, were real dumb, and looked kind of like fancy chickens so we took to calling them river chickens (sorry Phil).
Paradise birds (also called Hoatzin) in the trees. They were everywhere, were real dumb, and looked kind of like fancy chickens so we took to calling them river chickens (sorry Phil).
The water column down the river is from a dolphin surfacing.
The water column down the river is from a dolphin surfacing.
A caiman eyeing us from the shore.
A caiman eyeing us from the shore.
A bright green grasshopper that wanted to make Doug's pants its home.
A bright green grasshopper that wanted to make Doug’s pants its home.
This is what some of the other eco-lodges looked.  Very ramshackle and possibly falling down.  After seeing these we were glad we payed a bit more for a better company.
This is what some of the other eco-lodges looked. Very ramshackle and possibly falling down. After seeing these we were glad we payed a bit more for a better company.
Another boat tour going by.  Much more crowded than ours which was just the two of us.
Another boat tour going by. Much more crowded than ours which was just the two of us.
Doug relaxing and enjoying the view of the river.
Doug relaxing and enjoying the view of the river.
Doug not enjoying the afternoon rain storm.
Doug not enjoying the afternoon rain storm.
A ton of hanging bird's nests in the trees above the river.
A ton of hanging bird’s nests in the trees above the river.
These vines were very kudzu like and covered a large portion of vegetation along the river like a blanket.
These vines were very kudzu like and covered a large portion of vegetation along the river like a blanket.
A squirrel monkey boarding our boat.  He (or she) used it as a bridge to get to some other bushes.
A squirrel monkey boarding our boat. He (or she) used it as a bridge to get to some other bushes.
A mama and baby squirrel monkey nearby.
A mama and baby squirrel monkey nearby.

On the way back to our eco-lodge we passed at least a dozen fisherman coming out for the evening, all with tennis ball sized packs of coca leaves rammed into their cheeks.  Back on dry land we headed back to our hut to relax and stretch our sore butts after having been sitting for the past six hours.  The chairs in the long boat are pretty far from comfortable and force you into an odd slouching position that neither of particularly cared for.

Daily Walking Miles : 2.5 miles

Fun Facts:

  • Despite our DEET filled bug spray, screened windows, long clothes, and mosquito nets we have both suffered our fair share of mosquito bites.  Neither of us seem to be sick or anything yet so we’re hopeful.
  • Despite being featured on the sign to our eco-lodge, we sadly missed out on seeing sloths and toucans.  They apparently both live farther up the river than we were able to make it in a single afternoon.  Normally, when it’s not down pouring all morning, there is enough time to travel that far.
  • Many tourists choose to swim off the long boat in this murky brown river.  After having seen the number of caiman stalking the shores we both had a very strong no thank you reaction, even if it meant we could have swam with pink Amazon river dolphins.

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