We were both up unintentionally at 0530, so I was able to spend some time doing yoga and enjoying a relaxing morning for once before getting in to the Amazon Gero Tours again. I slept fabulously despite the heat, sub-par fan, and the mosquito net. I took a page from Tarek’s book and simply pushed the “sleep” button the night before (he would be proud). It turns out that a day full of various physical exertion leads to a dead sleep, something I forgot after years in an office job. I awoke to several frogs exploring my room, seemingly coming out of the bathroom sink drain (one seemed permanently lodged within until of course I turned the water on).
Breakfast consisted of bread, cold cuts, and some eggs, which ran out quickly, and some new variety of juice.After breakfast, we arranged for a 3 hour hike with Amazon Gero Tours in to the small flood-plain jungle, and then onward into the larger, more primitive jungle (larger for this area) that didn’t flood in the wet season. Our guide was a guy named Kennedy, who we would have for the next two days. He was excellent, hailing from an indigenous village in the north, where we wouldn’t be going. He knew all the medicinal plants, and was well-versed in recognizing flora, fauna, and animals. Kennedy explained to us the uses of various trees, some for drinking out of, others for weaving clothing, others still for eating. On our hike we tried barks of leaves of various trees used for treating asthma, headaches, and infections. We also discovered the spiky tree. As for animals, we spotted the fluffy monkey, several tarantulas, the carcass of a parrot that had been eaten by a carnivorous and large bird spider, several colors of leaf frogs, poison dart frog, butterflies, bullet ants, termites, and a vine snake. We had our guide Kennedy with us and also a scout with a large machete who both helped clear the path and identify interesting creatures.
Kennedy made us some crowns out of the palm leaves. We are so boss.
We decided the hike was about 5 miles, and we were back by 1100, with an hour to spare for lunch. The food was more of the same food we had the previous night, served promptly again at noon. We spent the 1200-1500 hours relaxing with other guests, who spanned Italy, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, France, and more. We also played some more cards – Tarek was still dominating Basra, winning every game.
At 1500 we went out with Kennedy for piranha fishing. We motored to a spot along the shore in the reeds and grass and set up. There were a number of basic fishing rods with lines attached (really just poles with a string and hook), and Kennedy had brought two small plastic cups filled with pieces of beef for bait. Piranhas of course are carnivorous.
Tarek caught a piranha right away, but since neither of us really wanted to eat it for dinner that night (it was also quite small), he decided to throw it back. I had a lot of bites, but was having some trouble hooking the fish with a quick jerking motion of the rod. I gave up for a while, and then tried again an hour later when we moved to another location. The second location was nearby where we went swimming (ha!).
At this point I got the hang of it and caught about five fish, none of which were large enough to consider keeping for Kennedy and the two other guides/workers on our boat. After a modicum of success and a nice time on the water enjoying not only the fish but also the bird-life, we headed back to the lodge at 1700. It was a beautiful sunset, again.
We were supposed to go Cayman (alligator) spotting in the afternoon and I believe a local village visit as well, but due to the disorganization of the Amazon Gero Tours and the lack of guides, the Cayman spotting was cancelled for us and the village visit was moved to the following day. Working with Kennedy was great – but the coordination across 20 different people with different itineraries (lengths of stay and arrival times, as well as desires) with only two guides was proving challenging. Given that we paid very little for the Amazon Gero Tour (R900 each for private accommodations), it was hard to complain – but we at least wish expectations and a semblance of plan were better communicated and that the tours were properly staff for the number of people at the lodge.
We showered and relaxed again until dinner at 1900, same story as last night. Most of the camp departed in the afternoon to sleep in the jungle in a hammock for a night, which didn’t interest us. However, this meant the lodge was empty and dinner even sparser. After dinner, we tried caipirinhas and caiperascas at the bar – of course Tarek had a non-alcoholic one – and we both enjoyed them. They were made with fresh sugar came and fresh muddled lime, and mine of course with cachaça. Apparently there was also something called a caipiranha as well, but nobody knew what it was (juice of a piranha??). We played more Basra and Tarek still reigned supreme.
It was another early night for us (2100), since we were waking up for a 0530 canoe ride with the Amazon Gero Tours during the sunrise.