Saturday, 24 May 2014

Day 2 Tambopato Lodge

We were awoken at 5:30 to get ready for our morning hike. Breakfast was delicious, with a variety of meat, eggs, fresh tropical fruit, toast, juice, coffee and tea. By 6:30 we were back in the dugout canoe heading upriver to the trail for our morning hike. Fortunately we had been given gumboots to wear, as we hiked for 4 hours in the jungle through mud that was often up to our ankles. (Remember the part about the RAIN forest!)

The most impressive part of the hike for me was seeing the "Mother of the Jungle", giant kapoc trees that grow to be 65 meters. This is the tallest tree in South America, and second only to the giant redwoods.

The strangular ficus trees were also interesting, as they grow from the top down when the birds drop their seeds in the upper branches of the host tree. As the roots and branches grow downward, they encircle the host tree, eventually strangling it. When the original tree dies, it leaves the inside hollow, and the strangular ficus tree continues growing to the top of the forest canopy. These trees can live up to 500 years, and continue growing taller until they die. When the trees get quite old, with the host tree long ago completely decayed, their roots form a cavelike structure, which create a great shelter if you are lost in the jungle!

We also saw macaws, an electric eel, a poisonous tree frog, and lots and lots of butterflies, including a neon blue one that was about 10 inches across. We also saw a giant black tarantula that made Marianne jump in fright when she saw it.

After lunch, we went swimming in the old swimming hole, but had to come back early because I was getting covered in bug bites. Go figure, out of everyone there, I was the only one getting bitten, guess those bugs know a good thing when they taste it! Good thing that Marianne had her Benadryl stick back in our cabin!

After supper, we went for an evening canoe ride, searching for caymens. Caymens are nocturnal animals, and we have seen them sleeping on the shore in the daytime. It was very exciting, though, to see them swimming in the dark, with only their beady little eyes visible. Fortunately, we did eventually see one climb up on a sand bar so that we could see its entire body.

The most spectacular part of our evening cruise, though, was the brilliance of the stars. Once we get away from all the light pollution of the city, the night sky is absolutely awe inspiring. This little part of our trip has really made me question the high price that we pay for all of our modern conveniences. There's something about getting away from cars, electricity, gadgets, and constant connectivity that causes the entire psyche to slow right down, to appreciate the simpler things in life, and to feel closer to God. It is something that I want to find a way to hold onto once I return home.


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