This morning started at 6:30, but I did not mind. I was in the jungle, and we were going birding. In the morning, Dad, Monica, Diego (our Achuar guide), a canoe driver, and I took the motorized canoe upstream to look for birds. Mom decided to sleep in and relax until breakfast took place, after we were back. In the morning, it was slightly raining, and a gentle zephyr was in the air. The five of us loaded into the narrow, motorized canoe, excited for what we might see. Along the way, we saw some cool birds, but the best was, by far, the sloth. As we were passing a tree over looking the water, we saw a ball of curled up fur in one of the branches. The sloth was sleeping, and I don’t blame him. Yeash, it was 7:00 AM! I loved seeing the sloth in the wild, but was a little disappointed that I did not get to see him moving. Soon, we returned back to the lodge, with an itch in our bellies; we were all starving!
When mom awoke, she was happy to see us and also very hungry. After a quick breakfast, we all wanted to head out yet a second time. This short expedition was simple and adventurous. Like the previous venture, this one started in the motor canoe. For about half an hour we rode until, suddenly, the boat started to slow down. I was startled for a moment as there was no dock! Nothing had gone wrong, we had just reached a trail going through the jungle and eventually back to the lodge. This, we intended to take. The captain pulled off to the side of the river, and I noticed that it looked no different than any other bank. Diego stepped out. He had brought his machete along on the boat and he used it to cut his way through the jungle. Soon, with us close behind, he reached the path. We said goodbye to the captain, and started the walk.
Along the hike, rain hit the trees, but we did not feel a thing under the shelter of the canopy. I saw spiders, and heard sounds of strange monkeys, but I would have to say my favorite aspect of the walk was what I learned. Diego taught us about his people and how the jungle plays such a big part in the lives of the Achuar Tribe. On his face was painted an Anaconda snake surrounded by symbols. Diego said that the painting was a prayer to the God, Arutam. Arutam apparently takes to form of four sacred jungle animals: the jaguar, the Pink Dolphin, the Harpy Eagle, and the most sacred, the Anaconda. He also taught us about many medical traditional medical remedies that the forest has to offer the Achuar people. My favorite was the fungal ear drops. Diego, showed us that if a member of the Achuar tribe has an ear infection, they let a single drop of fungus juice fall in the patient’s ear. Apparently, this also works for eye diseases. There was a spiky leaf which is used for distraction therapy if one has a pain or a rash. The leaf is also used for spanking kids if they are rude or naughty. My dad’s favorite medicine was the Uruch Muni, or Blood of the Dragon. This red tree sap is smeared over bites and wounds. My dad used it for an ant bite on his leg, and sure enough, it was gone in a instance! I loved learning all the different remedies of the jungle and hope to use them...soon...wait...I mean I hope to not use them for awhile!
The day was ended by a sweet kayak ride down the calm, flat river. The sun was out now, and it was a perfect day to get wet. The kayaks were “sit on tops” , but I did not mind. It allowed me to jump in the water and have even more extreme splash fights than in the white water boat. We passed the sloth again, but this time we had a better view and he was awake and moving. Once back at the lodge, we ate a delicious dinner and are settling down for the night.
Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!