“El misterio de las plantas amazonias”

The mystery of Amazonian plants

The theme of this day is best explained with this quote from Robert Crawshaw: “Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel’s immediate rewards…but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way”

We started this morning with a 6AM hike through the jungle, and had a little bit of “pre-breakfast protein” in the form of termites fresh from the mound. They taste like a cross between mint and lemon, but we quickly discovered that it was not enough to sustain us until breakfast.

A termite nest!

Kathy with a giant land snail shell- in Spanish, we call this animal churo

After breakfast, we continued exploring the forest. While walking, we saw scarlet macaws, various insects, and also found enormous land snail shells! Abelardo, our guide, told us that the indigenous people believe that putting a circle of these shells around the tree will result in a higher fruit yield. Why? The shells provide the tree with extra calcium!

We then moved to our next destination – ExplorNapo Lodge. To get there, we traveled downstream on the Yanamono river, downstream on the Amazon to the Napo river, upstream on the Napo River, and finally we took the Sacusari river upstream to our destination. At this point we haven’t traveled in, or even seen, a car in five days. River transportation is everything in the Amazon!

Once we were settled in, we went to visit the shaman- a traditional medicine man from one of the local indigenous tribes. It was a privilege to learn about, through smell, touch, and taste, local plants with medicinal qualities. He then performed a relaxing and healing ceremony for all of our group members. We left enlightened and smelling of rosewood.

After dinner, we had a night boat tour of the Sacusari River. We instantly saw a two-toed sloth (different from the 3-toed sloths we saw the day before, and the same kind that lives in the Living Conservatory at the Museum!), many frogs, sleeping butterflies, and an incredible mating pair of white throated toucans!

It’s been a long day. Off to bed to sleep under mosquito nets with 2 species of bats overhead!

Receiving a blessing from the shaman

We were ecstatic to find a pair of white-throated toucans tonight! Only one is pictured here, and a few of us have better photos, but we weren’t able to access them yet.