Wow. Just wow. La selva is so beautiful. It’s hard to capture that beauty on film. It has to be an immersive experience. You have to jump in and feel the cool river water on your skin, squish your boots into the muddy swamp, and hold a frog on your fingertips. You have to see the red streaks of bromeliads poking out of trees, the orange sun reflecting over the water, the yellow chest of a flycatcher fluttering by, and the infinite shades of green that dominate the landscape. You have to smell the sweetness of the natural mosquito repellant created by fire ants, as well as the awful stench left behind from wild boars taking a bath in a pool of muddy water. You have to hear the monkeys howling, the birds squawking, and the rain plunking down in big, solid, unforgiving drops. It’s incredible.
On the river, we found quite a few animals: anacondas, yellow flycatchers, bats (hidden on the underside of logs), and squirrel monkeys.
We also saw pink dolphins (which really don’t photograph well at all) and four other types of monkeys (I even got to see woolly monkeys swinging on vines). I saw and heard so many different types of birds that I can’t even remember their names, but definitely macaws, toucans, and stinky turkeys (which are loud and smelly).
Some night time finds: opossum (hanging out above the kitchen), big scorpion spider, frog, and white caiman.
Some nocturnal insects (and apparently some kind of nest a larvae was hanging out in).
One of the highlights for me was making cassave in the nearby Siona village. Cassave is bread made from the root of the yucca plant (also known as cassava and manioc in other places). To make the bread you peel off the outer layer of the root, grate the root into tiny pieces, squeeze all the water out of those pieces, and then push them through a sieve. Then you just put the small, dried pieces of yucca on a hot stone and push it down with your hand as it cooks. After smoothing it out with the bottom of a bowl, you flip it over and cook the other side. The cassave tasted great and I couldn’t believe that it didn’t require any additional ingredients, it just kind of melted together. Yum! Also, Maria was kind enough to let me make the last one.
I’ll leave you with some beautiful views from my time there: hiking through a swamp forest, macrolobial trees in Lagunda Grande, boats on the river near the Siona village, and a beautiful sunset on the lake.