We had a great time exploring the Amazon Rainforest. We were the only Americans in an excellent group of fourteen people. We shared wonderful time with a Dutch couple, Neils and Nina, one Spanish young woman, and seven French students. They graciously spoke with us in English and helped us with our halting attempts to speak Spanish or French. Our guide, Christopher, is a native of Peru, but has lived for many years in the Amazon.
We rode in canoes along the river, and I caught a piranha. The cook fried it and added it to our dinner that night. Later, we rode in our canoe to find a caiman (a relative of the alligator). Shining his flashlight into the darkness, Christopher saw the animal’s red eyes reflecting back at us. He carefully caught the creature, and then allowed each of us to hold it.
We spent the night in hammocks, which we carried during our trek along with all other supplies. Our lunch and dinner — chicken, sausage, and rice — were cooked over an open fire. Our breakfast — coffee with boiled eggs — also was cooked over the fire.
We know why it is called a rain forest because it rained three times while were trekking. Thankfully, the camp had tarps, which protected us from getting wet (mostly).
We saw many animals along the way: monkeys, a viper, a tarantula spider, numerous insects, and countless birds. We saw beautiful flora and learned how native people have used these plants for medicine and food through the centuries.
Other highlights included watching grey and pink dolphins in the river and visiting with a local family that makes its way by farming the land. During our visit, we saw the anaconda that they caught while it was trying to catch their chickens. None of us held it!
It was hot and humid, and our bodies were covered in sweat during our long walks of three-plus hours and our rides on the river. We returned tired from our activities. But, it was a wonderful experience that we will remember for years to come.