Trekking through the jungle
30/01/10 - The Amazon Rainforest, Amazonas State, Brazil
Stupid remark of the day>>>Me saying I was surprised it was raining so much in a RAINforest.
Sleeping and waking in the jungle is a new experience for me. There is a constant unrelenting noise of insects, birds, monkeys and god knows what else throughout the night. The noise combined with mosquitos and the hot weather make it difficult to sleep. Some travellers, especially those sleeping in hammocks, use sleeping pills.
The second day starts with a trek into a type of Amazon forest called terra firme or unflooded uplands. This type of forest makes up the majority of the Amazon surface area. There are two other types: the varzea or flood-plain zones, which are regularly flooded by the rivers and the igapos, which are occasionally flooded.
In Brazil no-one can pronounce my name and consequently I have been called every possible variation on Usuf including Jose (the most popular), Joseph, Edson, Elson, Houston and so on. My favourite however, is the name by which our guide Elso calls me: Wilson. I really like it and am thinking of adapting it.
The trek through the jungle is an unforgettable experience. There is just no way that you can really experience a rainforest without stepping into one. No photograph, film, movie, or book can truly do it justice. The power, majesty, energy, and feeling of a primeval rainforest is incredible yet indescribable. None of the pictures or videos I've taken in my jungle jaunts even come close to capturing it. I can only take solace in knowing that I am not alone in my frustration in trying to record its mystery and beauty for those that will never have the chance to experience it first hand.
The first thing that hits you when you step into the rainforest is the air. It's so heavy with oxygen and humidity that it is almost a tangible thing which just kind of envelops you. There is a heavy, rich stillness to it. In the heart of a primary rainforest (a forest which contains trees which have attained great age (and associated structural features) and so exhibits unique ecological features) little to no wind really makes in down below the unbroken green canopy of trees above you. The clean oxygen-filled air and the sheer magnitude of living things all around you sort of energizes you somehow. The vibrancy of life you feel flowing around you and through you resonates. It's really hard to describe... but its like all of earth's core elements are there in an abundance that you've never experienced before that it can excite, overwhelm and energize you all at once. In some places, the air stays so heavy with moisture that there is an almost perpetual cloudy fog which envelopes and muffles everything around you. These are called 'cloud forests'.
In the afternoon we trek in a partially-flooded forest. Mosquitos here are far more numerous and bloody annoying. They are incredibly aggressive. It's so bad I've started on my 100% DEET repellent (imagine pouring acid on your skin). I'm willing to risk cancer in exchange for relief from mosquitos. The only big animal we spot is the squirel monkey. They are fast and seem to be constantly on the move climbing from tree to tree at canopy level which makes it almost impossible take a photo of them. But seeing them in their natural habitat is very exciting. Elso informs us that female squirrel monkeys have a pseudo-penis that they use to display dominance over smaller monkeys, much like the way the male squirrel monkeys display their dominance. Just like humans then...In the Amazon the bigger animals hide in the dense foliage so it is difficult to spot them. But Elso is an experienced guide and seems to somehow sense the animals and points them out to us.
Er appears we've come across a marijuana plantation
"What is it?" "A tree" "Fascinating"
That little black and green frog on the left is apparently one of the most poisonous frogs in the Amazon. Most of Elso's sentences include the words 'one of the most poisonous'
Like Tarzan almost
Yeah...it's a tree