• Joanne Klepal

The Amazon: The Finale

Updated: Dec 5, 2019

If you missed the previous Amazon segments, click these links: 

P1: Making it Happen

P2: Now That It’s Happening & the Matsés

P3: Journey Along the River

P4: Around Buen Peru

P5: Wildlife

P6: Traditional Matsés

As I bring the Amazon Rainforest series to a close, I’d like to share just a few remaining experiences and thoughts.
Elias’s daughter

One of the most spectacular skills the Matsés have is the ability to make all sorts of animal and bird sounds. They did this throughout the expedition for dolphins, monkeys, birds, frogs, otters and much more. There was no limit on the number of sounds they could imitate.


This first video is my all-time favorite and is of river otters. This was taken at the end of the expedition when we traveled up river from Buen Peru back to Angamos. During the entire adventure, Armando and Wagner spotted river otters a couple of times but never could we get to them fast enough before they disappeared.


River Otters:



This time they turned the peca back around and made ‘otter’ sounds and the otters presented themselves. It was just for a short moment but it was perfect!



Here are a couple links on river otters for more information:   http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Giant_Otter http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/giant-river-otter/



Roberto & Armando imitating animal sounds:



We had a tremendous amount of rain throughout, but, I thought we were generally quite fortunate of the timing when it came, eg, night, all except the first day down river.


I was astonished of the impact the rainfall had to the water levels in the river in this short 2-week period. When we started out the water levels were so low, we had obstacles the entire journey down river to Buen Peru, however, on the return journey back to Angamos, we had very few.  


Even the place that we got ‘stuck’ going to Buen Peru was unrecognizable on the return.


Rain increasing the water levels:



As mentioned previously, when taking photos the Matsés norm seems to be a ‘straight’ and ‘serious’ facial expressions. I just loved when we could get a smile out of them; their look was transformed in such a beautiful way. Here’s a clip of Elias’s daughter [Elias is one of Armando’s sons] and Alex as we return from Buen Peru to Angamos.


Some other general photos where smiles were cracked.

Elias’s daughter & Alex


Armando & wife in Angamos


Wagner, his wife & baby: Angamos

Armando, Wagner, nieces, nephews, cousins: Buen Peru



more family: Angamos


Armando cracks a slight smile


Roberto, trying not to crack a smile

smiles from Judy & Erickson


One observation I made were of the Matsés feet. To me they all looked exactly the anatomically the same. If I saw these feet anywhere else I might identify the person as a Matsés; ha, ha.

Given their lifestyle, how they walk barefoot in the jungle, how they climb trees barefooted, the anatomy of their feet is probably a hereditary necessity.


I tend to think the Matsés are invincible, however they are not. During one night walk, Armando ended up with an itchy rash all over his arms, shoulders and back. It was highly likely it was from a tree or plant he touched, remember he was climbing trees.


This was a good reminder that anything can happen in the jungle and there are no facilities or doctors for the Matsés to call upon.

My worst experience or side effect was being eaten alive by mosquitos. Of course Héctor advised to bring plenty of repellent which I did, but I have a ‘thing’ about using these chemicals and I hate applying repellents, cremes, etc. on my skin when it’s so hot & humid.


I suspect for the rest of my life I will be paying the price, as four months on I am still scarred by many of the bites. I had bites in places one would never imagine! 

This was at least two weeks after the end of the expedition, only a small portion of body impacted!

I was fortunate I never got sick or had strange & creepy creatures under my skin, etc.
Ahh, now that I say that, I forgot about the leeches which I had remove now and again; yuck!

People ask me if I was afraid: if I was worried about the dangers. Quite frankly if I dwelled on everything that could go wrong, I wouldn’t have left the steps of my home.


You just have to dive in and deal with whatever comes your way and hope for the best, keep an open mind and go with the flow; the experience was worth it. One must have respect for this environment because nature is king.

I have a high regard and respect for the Matsés and their way of life. I’ve expressed it before but can’t reiterate enough, their skills are astounding and at such very young ages!


I hope I’ve done justice to the Matsés in this blog series as well as to my readers. 


I leave the Matsés and the Peruvian Rainforest a better person and my hope for them, if it is theirs, is that the younger generations find the education and advancement they seek, while maintaining the traditional aspects of their culture, and finding the balance that works for them through their continuous change and transformation in order not to loose what makes them unique and as they advance, they continue to respect and care for this wonderful nature.



What are your thoughts regarding this journey? 

Did you learn something new?

Would you seek this adventure?

I’d love to hear from you.



I am eternally grateful for:

  1. Héctor Vezirian and Amazon Explorer who make this expedition available to the few willing adventurous & curious souls that may be labelled as ‘crazy’

  2. For Edwin at Amazon Explorer for his English skills [ha, ha] and being responsive to all my enquiries before and after the expedition

  3. Armando, Wagner, their families and communities for welcoming outsiders to their homes and environment and for sharing their way of life

  4. The opportunity to see the Matsés way of life while it still exists

  5. Ruth’s hospitality in Angamos

  6. Yoli & Victor in Iquitos, for looking after my well-being and embracing me in their world

  7. Rider in Iquitos for sharing his time with me

  8. Marden and his over attentiveness, you can call me ‘Joanne’ not ‘lady’ 🙂

  9. Family and friends who worry but still support my endeavors

  10. For all that has happened in my life that has provided me the opportunity for this experience, including my health

  11. For those who’ve taken the time to read this series


Thank you and happy journeys,

Joanne



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