Twenty-five years ago my wife and I departed on what was to be one of the most interesting weeks in our travel lives. We left our kids with Sylvia's mom and flew from LAX to Miami, where we connected with our guide before departing for Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon. Our guide was Albert, a former Green Beret who had fallen in love with jungles while serving in Vietnam. He had created a charitable foundation in Peru and part of the reason for our journey was to visit his foundation and to explore some of the Amazon basin. We were entirely in his capable hands during our visit.
After an overnight stay in Iquitos, we boarded a motor boat and headed downriver on the Amazon for about three hours. The banks of the Amazon are highly developed, with lots of farms and deforestation -- not at all scenic and kind of a disappointment, really. To experience the "real Amazon" you need to head up one of its tributaries. As I recall, we spent a total of six hours traveling before we arrived at our home for six nights, a floating house tethered to the banks of the Rio Oroso.
(This boat was our transportation for a week, its rain covering frequently needed. The boat is docked in front of our floating home.)
(Our guide, Albert -- to the right of center -- frequently had locals
drop by for a chat)
The floating home was pretty primitive, but we were able to relax here. It had beds with mosquito nets and a shower, a simple dining room, and had the advantage of being less buggy than sleeping in the jungle. But it was stiflingly hot and muggy, the humidity approaching 100%. So we found it hard to get much sleep, although we could hear Albert snoring in the neighboring bedroom.
We had our own cook at our service, a young chap who was able to cook up delicious meals in a matter of minutes -- quite remarkable given the conditions. I'm not sure how he did it, but the food was terrific (and safe).
During the day we explored different parts of the Amazon always traveling there by boat. We did some hikes in the rain-forest and visited villages that were part of Albert's network of friends and acquaintances. I was wanting to explore the jungle at night with a flashlight. Albert looked at me like I was daft. "We can do that....but it is not safe", he said, so I passed on the opportunity. After I heard how loud the jungle got at night, I began to understand why. I later learned that on the plot of land behind our floating home, scientists had discovered 5 previously unknown species of venomous snakes, mostly nocturnal species.
It was often cloudy and would frequently rain, although we were there before the heavy seasonal spring rains caused flooding of the rivers and jungle. We saw many fascinating things which didn't lend themselves well to photography from a quickly moving boat -- pink and black freshwater dolphins, a giant river otter running on the banks of the river, caimen, numerous flocks of colorful parrots, and so on. The jungle teamed with a great variety of life.
My photos from this time were all taken as slides, which are present here in scanned digitized format. While they're not of the quality of today's digital photos, I think they add to the story.
(Visiting a family harvesting Yuca. One of the elders living here had almost been killed by, of all things, the sharp claws of an anteater)
(A poison dart frog spotted on a jungle hike)
(something about ferns has always interested me)
(These are the giant water lilies of the Amazon, growing in a pool in the rainforest. They are sturdy enough to support the weight of an infant)
Among my most favorite memories of this trip were the late afternoons, when we'd returned from the day's explorations and were relaxing, enjoying the fading light of day. Frequently the local folk would drop by -- curious about us, wanting to sell us some fresh fruit (which we bought and enjoyed), or share with us some of the things in their lives.
(A stringer of piranha this young man caught, which he wanted to show us)
I've more memories of this trip which I'll share with you soon.