Brazil Travel post #10: The Mighty Jungle (intro post is here).
So now that I’ve officially exhausted jungle-themed songs as titles, let’s actually go into the jungle.
Each day, we had 2-3 excursions from the main boat. Morning, afternoon, and night. Some of those days included jungle hikes into the pure, unadulterated wild. This wasn’t like those jungle hikes in Rio, where the trail is wide and flat from thousands of tourists. From what the owner of the Tucano told us, the areas we went in only we went in. Judging by the machete-clearing techniques used by our guides, I believed it.
The main problem, however, was footwear. We didn’t bring hiking boots, we brought hiking sandals. Which wouldn’t really be a problem except for the fact that we could sink into six inches of dead leaves and other rotten vegetation with each step (where, of course, spiders, scorpions, and vipers love to hide).
So…that part was unnerving. The hikes themselves, however, were extraordinary.
While the Amazon jungle has the greatest diversity of life in the world, it actually has low density of each kind. So each type of animal you come across should be treated like an unexpected gift.
Here, you’ll see the “greatest hits” of our jungle hike excursions.
Story time: Bullet ants (pictured above) are known to have one of the most painful stings of any ant. In fact, apparently, it feels like you’ve just been stung (with fresh pain) for about 24 hours. It’s so bad, that there’s a tribe whose “manhood ritual” involves wearing a glove filled with bullet ants. Once a boy does this, he is now a man, and can accomplish anything.
Story time: The site pictured above was run as a “company store” and the natives that worked here were essentially tricked into indentured servitude. Those that tried to speak out were never heard from again…. Despite all the natural beauty here, it’s important to keep in mind the history (and current activities) of exploiting the rainforest. It’s a fragile ecosystem, despite its size.
Story time: Souza showed us this specific type of ant (which frenzies in response to noise) that doesn’t sting, but their body fluids make for a great natural mosquito repellent. All you have to do is clap nearby to get them to rush out of their nest, then you let them on your hand, and rub them onto your skin.
Story time: The protagonist in this story is our guide, Souza. The antagonist a giant bird-eating tarantula. Here’s the setup. Souza is a self-proclaimed “Coboclo” (a person of mixed ancestry where half is a native) and grew up in the jungle. So he knows his stuff. He knows hundreds of bird calls. Can identify dozens of types of ant nests. Hundreds of plant types, along with their uses. And…he knows how to “charm” giant spiders out of their burrows.
He put his scent (sweat and spit) on a stick, the tricked the spider into defending its burrow against said stick. When the first spider came out, there was a collective gasp from the group.
Though we had some adventure and excitement, mostly what we found was natural beauty and new experiences.
Seeing the jungle “up close and personal” was definitely worth it. And no bites or stings! Next time I’ll show you all the things we could see from our expeditionary watercraft. Hint: A lot more animals!
PS — I’m taking the weekend off. Michaela’s mom is in town, and I’m meeting up with a friend from out of town for some quality dude time. Catch you on Monday!
Click to continue: Brazil: Rollin’ on the River.
Thanks for reading! What do YOU think? Is that sloth the cutest or what?
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