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.