Ahh dawn again! The sun is bright, the birds are loud, and there is a light comfortable drizzle coming down. So my day begins. Nothing really goes on this morning for a few of us because we want to save our energy for the new exploration this afternoon. After the typical morning coffee and reading/reflection, we meander over to breakfast and chat about our excursion. A quick chow down and then off to the boats. It takes us just under two hours against the current on quite a warm day to arrive at our location. We plan on docking at Weny’s (a guide from the lodge) family’s house and travelling on from there.
As we dock and grab our things, I notice this place is different from the rest of the terrain. There are rolling beautiful hills with thick grass covering the landscape. What a sight to see here. As we depart from the boat, keep in mind the humidity has been in the high 80th percentile and I am quite used to it by now, the humid air hits me like a straight jacket. It feels like giant hands are squeezing your chest and lungs. I pause to take a deep breath but it doesn’t help. It is almost like you feel claustrophobic out in the open air. Moments slowly roll by and I keep my cool but am not enjoying this feeling. I think to myself, “Keep it together, and there may not be a lot left to keep together but keep what you have left!” The feeling very arduously passes and we set lunch down in the house before we depart on our journey. We begin up a steep embankment that levels out to a gorgeous plateau. Now, we are standing line with or above the tree canopy and can see for miles. The hills are covered with thick leaf grass as far as I can see. It overflows into the canopy of the far off trees. It is truly an exceptional view. This is the point where I forget the humidity and enjoy the soul of this place.
Entering the dense jungle begins with a small fenced off area where we un-stack some logs and move forward. Quickly, this jungle becomes so dense. We trample over, under, and with this jungle. No animals or creatures come into view for about an hour or so, just vast and deep jungle. We spot our first poison dart frog. Shortly after, we hear a toucan! They are so loud and amazingly wonderful. The bills are giant and they are surprisingly good at hiding in the jungle. Next, we see this wicked looking bug that flies upright and he flies out of a downed log. It has this giant antennae that look like horns and flies upright.
Like a drone it flies away from us and it is without a doubt the most interesting bug I have ever seen. After the bug, we see mustache monkeys. Are you kidding me? Monkeys with mustaches!!! Just about 10 of these pass from sight quickly. Behind me, Freddy and Andy find a dwarf tarantula that looks as if it has 10 legs. Seriously count them. It’s crazy right? This is a great find because they are not commonly found here. Our guide Weny has seen a few snake but we don’t find any, which I am okay with. Apparently, I am the only traveller who hasn’t seen one. After a very fruitful hike, we head back to Weny’s casa. We eat lunch and notice that there is a giant armadillo shell that his brother had trapped. So naturally, I put in on and crouch down like an armadillo for every one to take pictures with. We laugh hysterically and have some fun.
Seconds after we pack up and depart, the heavens open up and a monsoon drops out of the sky. For 30 minutes out of our 96-minute boat ride home, we experience constant, fat drops of rain. It is so refreshing that I don’t even think about a poncho or covering. Such a wonderful feeling. Just after the rain stops, we notice a small animal on the side of the river. It is a Capybara and her babies. Everyone in the boat scrambles to take a picture but nobody is quick enough. This is particularly fascinating because the guides tell us that people can go 10 plus years and not see one. So we feel very blessed. On the ride home, we become swarmed with butterflies. They dance around us like a fairytale. The sun beaming through the clouds, the sound of light rain atop the water, and huge butterflies with unparalleled coloring are flying with us by the boat, and it feels surreal. The beauty and majesty of this place are so overwhelming. Freddy, Andy, and I take a few photos but hop out of the boat and quickly change for a late night soccer match.
We tie 3-3 with a late goal by Freddy and make a very wet muddy stomp over to the Tahuayo River to wash off. The dining hall is filled with laughter and stories. We watch half a movie after dinner then quickly to bed as I only have one more day here in the jungle. 10 wonderful days down and one last full day ahead of me. One thing I have heard commonly as travellers leave the lodge is, “back to reality.” I’ll say one thing, come to the rainforest, watch how the natives live, hike through the dense jungle, swim with Piranha, sit in the pouring rain, close your eyes, and listen to the vast and distinguishable noises of the jungle… It doesn’t get more real than this.