Saturday, July 27, 2013

Luminescent butterflies and Achuar beer

Simon leads the way with a sharp machete to open the trail for us. He is our local Achuar guide, who speaks Spanish and Achuar. Carlos is our translator and naturalist who explains what we are encountering. They are both knowledgable and very likable. After them, our group of six proceeds. At least once a day we go for a 3 hr (or so) walk in the jungle. It's never possible to predict what we will find.... Sometimes it's fungi and birds... We have seen mammals, fascinating insects, birds, unusual amphibians, giant luminous butterflies, and always amazing plants... Every day is a day of surprises and a wonderful sense of adventure. The trail is often muddy, sometimes with deep mud or standing water. (It is after all a rain forest)... And when it is raining we go anyway with our rain gear. My two greatest surprises have been... There have been no clouds of mosquitos and the temperatures have been mostly very comfortable.

We have just returned from a an indigenous village visit, where we were received as guests. The house was open to the open air with a 6 ft. of open exposure on all sides of the house... It was built in an oval shape... About 10 yards across and about 20 yards long. There was a high thatched roof, timbers forming a strong internal scaffold. The roof was covered with a tight palm thatch. The floor of this space was earth in which chickens scratched and dogs were free to wander.The man and his wife lived here with 3 sons and a daughter.. Upon entering tradition required that we offer our thanks to the host (phonetically saying "we WAH he") almost immediately we were treated to a bowl of "CHE cha" maniac beer (the process of making it requires partial mastication before starting the fermentation) It is considered impolite not to accept -we did and responded with a polite thank you(MAK a tah), when we were served. The wife offered me one small bowl of the beverage and then she filled my bowl again when she saw that it was empty. The entire exchange was quite formal followings a certain sequence. These people are completely self sufficient, growing their food or collecting it from the forest and river. Medicines when needed also come from the forest. Their challenge is to maintain their traditional life in the face of "the outside world" encroaching on them. They made a little extra money by making pottery or sale. When we left our new friends we gave the ritual goodbye (whe AHRE hi). It was a jolly exchange.

Our life here is very pleasant with a wake up call at six, quick cup of coffee then off on a canoe expedition- morning is often the best time to spot birds, monkeys, and other critters... Back for breakfast... Then off on an often strenuous trek through the jungle, excellent late lunch (often with local foods). Time for a two hour siesta, then another activity, dinners... and usually a night time adventure. The rain forest is so addictive... We are afraid to miss any of it because we never know when something fascinating will be spotted. There is always something new to encounter. The peace that I feel in the forest is incredible! This is not a luxury resort where you come to relax, but it is a place to discover great truth about the world and about yourself.