21.11.2013 89 °F
Had to be up and have our breakfast and be ready to take our first skiff ride by 9. Ucil was our naturalist guide on this trip. He spotted numerous birds of which are only found here in the Amazon. We had a couple of great surprises. The first was the pink dolphins. These are the only fresh water dolphins in the world. They didn't jump like the dolphins in the ocean, just came to the surface to get a breath and dive back down. They weren't entirely pink. They were pink and gray in color.
We came back to the boat and had a naturalist talk about the Amazon and where we were going to travel along with some of the things the naturalists hoped we would come upon. We were going to take the skiffs on a tributary of the Amazon with the purpose of seeing some animals and more birds. After the talk we had a most excellent lunch except fo the red peppers, I chowed down as if they were red bell peppers. WRONG! Talk about 4 alarm! Cooled it down with homemade ice cream for dessert. I was commenting on how good the ice cream was only to find out that they make it in Iquitos.
After lunch everybody took a two hour break. Hans and I stayed on the observation/lounge deck for more viewing. We had a very informative conversation with one of the naturalists, Ucil, who actually grew up in a village on the Amazon. As we were moving we were viewing some of the indiginous people harvesting rice. Ucil said that these people would sell a ton of this rice to the mills for $200 who in turn, would package it, and sell it for $3500! If you were to see how these people were harvesting this rice, no mechanization what so ever, you'd understand the depths of the travesty of this.
At 3 o'clock we again, took the skiffs out on an excursion. We took a small tributary off of the Amazon to explore. We continued seeing birds of various colors. We saw a Blue Heron perched in a small tree ( I didn't know they would actually land in trees). Our afternoon surprise came when we saw a critter with reddish brown fur curled up in a tree. It was a sloth. He was the first of 5 we would see this afternoon. He was the most active and seemed to find us quite interesting. We saw spider monkeys and mandarin monkeys. We saw the cutest Owl monkey. I hope the picture I took turns out as he was adorable! The locals came out in their boats, the entire family, to sell their wares. Some very beautiful handmade items. I couldn't deny the little girl with the big eyes so I bought a beaded bowl from her. This type of bartering has gone on for probably hundreds of years. I wondered if their lives would ever change and even if they would welcome that change.
We came to a tourist conservation camp sight that was a grouping of screened in rooms with a few closed area rooms that were used as bedrooms. There wasn't anybody at this camp because, I was told, it wasn't tourist season. I was the last one to depart from the rest room and Ucil, the guide was waiting to make sure we all got back. As we were leaving the screened in areas I saw "a kitty" making his way through the enclosures. Ucil said that's not a kitty, that's an ocelot. Tried to get a picture but the "kitty" sauntered off.
We were to expect a surprise before dinner once we got back to the boat and freshened up. We went to the lounge area and were entertained with Peruvian music by the crew with our naturalist, Ucil as the drummer. They played the flat flute that is typical of peruvian music along with a guitar a lyr the flute and Ucil beating a hollow wooden box he was sitting on as if it was a bongo. It was perfect entertainment for the whole ambiance of the trip, on an open deck boat, traveling down the Amazon. The coolest thing was that after they were done entertaining us, they came and served us a superb meal! With homemade vanilla bean ice cream, mmm mmm!