The Amazon: Wildlife
Updated: Dec 4, 2019
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We [Armando, Wagner, Marden, Judy, our designated cook, and her husband, Erickson], spent another half a day going further down river.
Suddenly we stopped, hopped out of the peca and climbed another steep riverbank to find our spot for wild camping over the next few days.
How Armando was able to know and see where to stop when everything looks the same, is astonishing!
What we find is a small, somewhat cleared area with a slightly raised, and not been used in a long time, platform along with a small thatched area for the makeshift kitchen to be constructed.
While Armando prepared our living quarters, [putting tarp in the roof, pitching tents, etc., and Judy prepared our ‘kitchen’, Wagner took the rest of us further along the river to find a ‘fishing’ spot.
Now let’s take a minute to talk about Judy. What Marden made a point to highlight several times during the trip was that she had ‘blue/green’ eyes.
This is apparently unusual for the Matsés and the story is that she is a descendant of one of the wives that Armando’s father captured and integrated into the tribal community.
Marden also commented, with well-meaning intent, that Judy ‘did not cook well’. This is a matter of perspective. What he meant was that she didn’t know how to cook the ‘western’ food that Amazon Explorer packed for us.
This was her first time, after all, and how could you know how to cook this when you’ve not been exposed this ‘foreign’ food?!
Judy is only 19 years old and believe me, she can cook!
She can cook and prepare anything that is normal for the Matsés to eat, including skinning and preparing all sorts of wildlife, pigeons, monkeys, fish, you name it, she can prepare and cook it!
Not only that, she was solely responsible for anything related to our meals. She trekked up and down the steep riverbanks to collect water, wash the dishes, etc. etc. At 19 she didn’t have to be told that something needed doing, it was just done.
So, Judy may not be able to make a scrambled egg, but her skills go far beyond what you and I would consider amazing!
Some evenings during this part of the expedition, we would hike up to two hours with Armando and Wagner to observe the wildlife which seemed to come alive at night. It always astonished my how they were able to find their way in and out in the pitch dark. It was difficult enough to follow them with a flashlight but they seemed to just know their way around and able to see, hear and identify creatures in the dark.
Here are some key highlights:
Snakes & Spiders:
Jungle pigeon, Judy made this for a breakfast soup. Armando and Wagner where able to stun the pigeon in the tree by throwing an object at it. As it was in a daze and confused, they caught it.
There was one butterfly called the blue morpho, which is an absolute beauty. These were seen, however I wasn’t able to catch one on camera.
Armando & Wagner find water; drinking water from forest vines ‘soga de aqua’:
Armando & Wagner making a tapir trap and demonstrating how it works. It’s completely made by natural resources in the jungle. Notice also how Armando is able to climb the tree.
Finding food, jungle spaghetti. This actually took about 5 minutes; notice the layers already sliced through on the left:
This is really cool! Armando and Wagner made rafts for us to float down the river; all again from natural resources:
Sounds of the night:
Walking through the forest, including the ants. This part is already pretty cut through, so much easier to walk without using a machete.
I hope the above gives you a little flavor of the wildlife in the rainforest. Armando & Wagner were absolutely amazing!
Here is some information on hunting & fishing: https://pib.socioambiental.org/en/povo/matses/1958
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For more adventure, click here for part 6 of this Amazon series to learn about the Traditional Matses.
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