feeling like Conrad, exploring like Magellan

After a night of delicious Peruvian food and wine, I slept soundly to the sounds of the water lapping against the side of the boat as we headed deep into the Amazonian jungle.
My dreams were filled with Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

The brown current ran swiftly out of the heart of darkness, bearing us down towards the sea with twice the speed of our upward progress; and life was running swiftly, too, ebbing, ebbing out of his heart into the sea of inexorable time. . . . I saw the time approaching when I would be left alone of the party of ‘unsound method.’”

*****

The next morning after breaky, feeling brave and full of the spirit of Magellan, I boarded the skiff for the first adventure of many to come. Local children emerged from the lush jungle to see the new arrivals. I smile and wave, but our strangeness overcomes any reciprocation.

As we leave the mighty Amazon and head into a tributary, the trees swallow us like the tale of Jonah and the whale. Head spinning like a top, we search high for birds, monkeys, and sloths, while wary of snakes from the water and low handing tree branches.
I’m experiencing sensory overload…..
You hear more than you see, realizing that life in the jungle will not be readily on display. The soundtrack though is stimulation enough, with screaming noisy night monkeys, the call of toucans, macaws, and birds of prey. The leaves in the trees rustle and quiver as it’s inhabitants watch us from their lair.
Unnervingly, I realize that just as many creatures lurk in the water below, giant fish, slithering monsters, ancient reptiles….and one leaps from the water into our skiff!
Luckily, it was a small barracuda, though it’s razor sharp teeth look menacing.

Day one doesn’t disappoint. As we leave to head back for lunch, a local family of fishers are floating down the great Amazon with their catch of catfish. Their boat has a fire for cooking, a net for keeping their fish alive and fresh until they reach a town to sell them, laundry hanging from string. A first glimpse into the lives of the locals.

All in a day along the river of life.

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Wench, bring my ale, what say you?