Friday, January 15, 2010

A Day in Nature

The other day I experienced what might have been the highlight of my Amizade Adventure so far. My host arranged a private tour through the only remaining old growth rainforest about 70 miles South of Santarem along the Tapajos River on the Amazon Plateau. It is a huge protected area accesible only through locked gates and has a few jeep trails, which lead to research and ranger outposts. I had a veteran guide who drove us in and then, armed with a machete,hacked us back for hours on game trails. Since the rainy season is only just starting, walking was easy but would have required special boots to tromp through wet ground later on in the season. Also mosquitos were at a minimum but can be savage at dusk, and certainly all day long later on in the year. I had memories of old movies of expeditions through the jungle, in which I was now a character. The forest was exceptionally tranquil, with its quiet only disturbed by strange bird calls, warning others nearby that the natives were coming. There were also small, croaking frogs, purple, yellow and black-spotted, sitting on hundred year, moss-covered ironwood logs or on giant palmate leaves. Also we were accopanied by large flourescent blue butterflies zigzagging through the undergrowth. Of course I was hoping, however vainly, to see a tapir or at least some tracks, but not a jaguar or leopard for obvious reasons. The guide assured me that stumbling on a boa wrapped on a tree was a remote possibility but I never felt afraid. Fortunately we came upon a troop of howler monkeys high in the canopy in search of pods or looking for a better place to sleep.
I took many pictures but have displayed only these three for your review. It would be easier to capture a dream than to do this experience justice through only a few pictures. The thickness of the foliage, the quality of the air, the sheer size of the trees and the number of little things, too many to mention are each a subject of its own that compose this indescribable whole.
The top picture shows one of hundreds of bird-of -paradise flowers which adorned open spaces. It was serving a banquet of nectar to worker ants who filed past a queen located near its center.
The second photo, when enlarged may do a better job indicating how large this spider was. The body was at least as long as my index finger, which I chose, understandably, not to put up next to this beauty. The strand of its web behind her was not paricularly sticky but was thick and of the texture of rope.
Last, I chose to show you the canopy. Looking upwards is like seeing leaves inside a kaleidescope and gave the sensation of a patchwork green -doily covering the sky.
It was a day to remember. Yet, as I write this account now, the images are already slipping away. I recall them to you now like scenes of a movie, I once saw many years ago.


  1. Ugh, I missed two posts. I had read something about these Eros motels, some of which are quite classy I believe and others are dumps.

    Boy are you having an experience and you are so good at photojournalism. I know that mosquitoes, even at a minimum, would plague me to the point that I would throw the camera into the jungle.

  2. Fantastic! This is so cool, being able to follow your adventure and you are very good at photojournalism!! Thanks so much for sharing your adventure with us! Have a great weekend -- look forward to hearing all about it! Enjoy!


  3. Lee: How wonderful that you are on this grand adventure. Brazil is an amazing country. Glad to read on your blog that the Wake Forest folks were hard at work too. Keep sending the world your photos and commentary. The commentary is as important as the photos!


  4. I really like the last! I would love to have seen it myself;) Wonderful image!

  5. Toto, we are not in...oh, you know the rest.
    The photos are lovely & especially striking is the last one. Thanks for giving us a little glimpse of this amazing place. Your narrative is superb...many years of practice?

  6. Wonderful---how I would like to see the other photos or to actual experience the adventure you are on. Keep up the good work and the awe and wonder. MB

  7. If the upcoming highlights are even remotely as good as this one, we'll all be delighted. These are great! The colors are really nice. The animals and flowers are excellent, but the tree is captivating. Nice info.

  8. Wonderful pictures Dad! They are so clear! I loved the eight legged guy.

  9. I think this is the best post you've written since you arrived in Brazil, and the pictures are worthy of the text--absolutely stunning! What really captivated me is the part where you said: "I had memories of old movies of expeditions through the jungle, in which I was now a character."

    There is something so magical about living out a childhood fantasy like that, and also knowing that you're living it out, being aware of it while it's happening. I could definitely empathize with that. And yet I anticipated that part of your post from an earlier line, the one where you described your guide clearing the path for you with his machete! That activated or re-activated my own childhood fantasies and half-remembered scenes from those old adventure movies. Believe it or not...I also used to imagine myself hacking through the Amazon jungle with a machete! :-)

    I'm glad you were able to see an old-growth rain forest. There can't be too much of it left with all the land in Brazil that has been cleared for cattle ranches and farming, but it's good to know that at least some of it is being preserved. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the pictures from your tour of the rain forest.