Parrots, Piranhas, Giant Ants, Monkeys and Caiman Alligators

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South America » Brazil » Amazonas » Manaus
May 19th 2015
Published: May 20th 2015
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The parrots that live here in the Amazon are Giant Macaws, exotically-coloured and noisy. One such creature who lives in the canopy near the lodge, likes to frequent the open bar area from time to time. He is a regular visitor who enjoys squawking at visitors, with either a friendly “Hello” or a shrill and repetitive “F… off!” as the mood takes him! This is obviously a universal phrase taught by tourists to parrots. We met one such Macaw, eight years ago on the island of Aruba in the Caribbean, who delighted in swearing at all and sundry with an astonishingly rich repertoire of colourful expletives. Unlike the free wild Macaw who visits the bar here, the Aruba bird lived in a cage, so consequently led a miserable life, being frequently hidden away in solitary confinement behind bushes in the hotel grounds, every time guests objected to his vocabulary. Our Macaw here can swear at whomsoever he pleases, whenever he likes, then fly away! Sadly those bygone innocent days when parrots were simply taught to squawk simple alliterations like “Pretty Polly” are long gone!

Some guests went fishing for Piranhas yesterday and the guide bought a couple back for his supper. As you can see in our photo, he carefully laid them on the jetty and wired their mouths together with a loop of wire so that he could easily pick them up to transport them to the kitchen, without getting ripped fingers. The teeth on these fish are evil, but we are going to have a go at fishing for them later on whilst we are here. They are a popular meal for indigenous people in the Amazon, but great care is needed when catching them!

Our lodge is built on legs to raise it up from the forest floor. Unfortunately, lovely as it is, there are some wide gaps in the floorboards, which things can crawl or fly through. Giant ants are regular visitors and they particularly enjoy invading our loo during the night, which is most inconvenient. We have taken to putting mosquito coils on the floor beside the loo, which seems to dampen their eagerness to swarm around the toilet bowl!

This morning, we went down the river, just a short ten minute ride on motorised canoe, to an island inhabited by Macaque monkeys and also a small troupe of Uakari monkeys, which the early Portuguese explorers called “English Monkeys” due to their bright red faces. The Uakari are an endangered species. Macaques live in many regions of the world, but the red-faced Uakari only live here in the Amazon basin. The Macaque are very powerfully built and often fight. Yesterday a big monkey fight broke out there, so nobody visited the colony. Today was OK, in fact, they were very chilled out. This afternoon we just lazed about. Such a hard life! We are really loving all of this trip so far. The food is pretty basic, but otherwise, the lodge has proved to be a good choice.

Tuesday 19th May 2015

The rain, thunder and lightning started at 9 p.m. last night and continued relentlessly all night and throughout the morning. Now we know we are in the rainforest. We woke up to a torrential downpour, thundering on our roof and we laid in bed with the window wide open, mosquito-netted of course, to watch the lush green foliage being showered. The great thing about this eco resort is that it is very spread out. The only thing we can see in front of our little lodge is verdant jungle. Just a short walk, however, brings us to the main lodge buildings. We donned our boots and plastic ponchos and headed off there for breakfast. It is days like this that we are glad to be independent travellers. Everybody else here is on one “jungle trip” or another, so today they are heading off to see the “Meeting of the Waters” in the rain. We shall go another day to see this spectacle, however. Of course, it could rain for another week, so we might see it in a downpour anyway! More about the “Meeting of the Waters” later, when we get there!

This afternoon, when the rain finally stopped, we set off down one of the hiking trails, but it was so hot we soon retraced our footsteps and headed back to our lodge to shower. The power had failed once again, so we had cold showers, and then just sat and waited for the power to come back on so we could get the air con going. By 4.30 p.m. the electricity struggled back to life so we were able to cool down a bit.

At 6.30 p.m. we set off in the dark, with a group of people, in a motorised canoe, to go Caiman spotting. There were fourteen of us, which was too many really. We didn’t spot any large Caiman but the guide caught a few babies, just about one month old. These little creatures were passed around and dozens of close up flash photos were taken, which cannot do them any good. The reason that they go Caiman spotting at night is because shining the lights along the bank helps to find them, their eyes reflect the light and the guide told us that this confuses them, stuns them so that they are easier to catch. We didn’t feel at all comfortable about this. He held their heads each side of the throat forcing the mouths open, so people could aim their cameras down their throats to see their little teeth! All of this was quite disturbing considering that this is an eco-centre set up for the protection and conservation of indigenous Amazonian animals! On the plus side, sitting quietly in a canoe up a small water channel off the river and hearing the night sounds of the jungle was pretty good.

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