Saturday, November 27, 2004

Nov 21, Day 3

Check out Day 3 photo album here

Exactly around 3.45 am i heard some sounds on top of my bed i woke up and saw some creature fly out of my room .I went to the bathroom to get ready only to step on some sticky stuff. Think they are bat droppings and probably, probably the one who woke me up was the culprit. I was wondering whether this bat is the lodge peoples way of awakening the tourist on time.

Had to wear big boots and take the boat ride for another 30 mins upriver for the lake.As we went so early it was still foggy and the sun was rising. It was called the ox-bow lake had to hike for 20 mins from the river. On the way i was able to see the essence of a rain forest.

There was symbiosis** every where. Most of the trees had a parasite climber on it. In many cases the climber grows all over the tree, reaches the top and grows roots and becomes an independent tree. And in this process they kill the host trees. One such parasite was strangler fig . The strangler fig has its seed deposited by bats that land on the tree, and the seeds begin to germinate there. Over time, the fig grows down the tree and establishes roots. Eventually, the fig surrounds and engulfs the host tree, killing it. The jungle was so dense, there seemed to be a competition for space, trees and plants were crammed together.

Lot of plants had leaves with 80 % holes in them. Thanks to the leaf cutter ants**.I was stopping everywhere trying to take pictures and examining things. I was the last to reach the lake ,everybody was already on the boat looking at my direction. I could read there mind
c’mon hurry up, Do you think you are from national geographic or what?
The boat was 2 catamarans joined together by wooden plank in the middle and it had a single oar in the back which u r supposed to move as if you are writing 8.I tried my hands on that oar and failed.

There were lots of birds in the lake. We spotted a few. Catherine asked the guide whether there are any kingfishers in that area??.The guide told there some.Somehow a beautiful kingfisher heard what she asked and came looking for her. There were lot of bushes and trees around that lake. But the kingfisher came and sat on this solitary leafless plant which was so conspicuous. It seemed as if it was asking, was someone looking for me??.

There are supposedly 6 otters there in the lake. The otters appeared and they were gracious enough to give us a family picture. I was sitting on the edge of the boat with my legs in the water. One of the guide was fishing and he caught a piranha. He showed us all the teeth of piranha. I decided to take my legs of the water.

we walked back to the river. On the way back the guide showed us a termite nest on the tree. And said that we can eat the termites and offered some. The boy who came up with the American family tried it. He didn’t show any reactions at all. I thought I will also try some. I tried some of the termites. They were so small they didn’t have any taste at all. I was told that the natives eat lot of termites when they run out of proteins in there bodies.

catherine and faulkner who were going to a lodge that is deeper in the amazon like 5,6 hours upriver left us. I later heard from catherine that she got to see a jaguar there.

Went straight to the parakeet clay lick. I heard lot of parakeets circling in the sky. But they never came down. Because an eagle was scaring them. Was waiting in the hut specially made to watch the collpa without disturbing the parakeets. There was all kinds of sounds near that place. My guide started imitating a sound that was coming from the nearby trees and he was hearing reply's. There was a question answer session going between him and some insect that was making the sound. The voice started coming nearer and nearer and in the end a grass hopper that was answering my guide, dived right into the hut. I could see the disappointment in its face. Probably it was looking for a beautiful female grass hopper and here are two advanced version of a chimpanzee. It gave one last sound and left us. Probably it was cursing us.

Rodalfo talking to a grasshopper

We waited for a while and left as it was getting late. On the way back we heard some sounds and my guide started going into the jungle away from the trail. He asked me to follow him, he kept going deeper and i was hesitantly following him. The bird that my guide was looking for flew away. But we saw some tiny monkeys and joined back the trail. Right where we joined the trail my guide showed me something, it was a big tail of a snake. The snake was on the other side of the tree. I was glad that i didn't step on it.

After coming back to the lodge, we left to a medicine plant farm. Maintained by a local shaman**. Found some interesting plants in the garden. At the first tree the shaman's assistant took a leaf of that plant, kind of folded it, but the leaf sprang back to its original upright position. The tree was supposed to be the viagara of the rain forest. Everybody started laughing when he told that they call the plant "stand up stand up" in the native language. Saw many plant which where natural dyes, all u had to do was crush them.

Saw the Ant tangera tree. The Ant tangera tree and the tangera ants are a classical case of symbiosis**. The ants crawl up and down the tree, protecting it from animals that may eat its bark, such as the sloth. The ants get shelter and possibly water. The bark of the tree was clean and it seems you can never find that tree without the ant. I came across this interesting quote when researching about the amazon. It is by Alexander F. Skutch in his book titled, A Naturalist on a Tropical Farm.

As predation, parasitism, and every form of ruthless exploitation of one organism by another are proof of evolution's tragic failure to create a harmonious community of living things, so every instance of fruitful cooperation is evolution's triumph, a sample of what it might have achieved with a different sequence of mutations over the ages, or better, if it had been guided by a wise, compassionate Intelligence- a sample, too, of what the living world may be on some far-distant planet happier than our own.

I was disappointed at the dinner. I was expecting some traditional Peruvian food or some jungle food, but instead lasagnia, salad and all western dishes were served. I was again talking to carlos the researcher .He was with a team of 4.I asked more about there project and they said they are here part of a WWF project to study the macaws. And carlos is supposed to be an expert in catching macaws and he was there for 2,3 weeks to teach the others on catching macaws. They asked me whether i was part of any group. Said no, i came alone. Then they told me that they are going upriver deeper into the jungle and that i can join them on there expedition if i wanted to. I was dumb struck, a chance to study the macaws with researchers in deep jungle. I was tempted to take that offer and dump my whole tour itinerary, forget about work. just go into the jungle for a few weeks and come out with big beards and mosquito bites. But I guess I have become old, my wise adult mind controlled the passionate young one and decided against it. I wished i wasn't working and i wasn't on a fixed schedule i would have taken up that offer.

After dinner we had an option of taking a night walk. Me and another person decided to do it. Armed with nothing but the torch lights, we ventured into the jungle at night. It was scary. It was pitch dark and there were all kinds of sounds. Creatures where running here and there seeing the lights. I felt as if i was the center of focus for hundreds of eyes in that place. And in that dark everything looked like an animal. The silhouettes of plants and trees seemed to be making the same image, an image of a jaguar looking at me. I was calculating what could be the probability of two jaguar eyes in those hundred eyes that are looking at me. I realized that I was the last of the 3 peoples walking, thought to myself that I should have taken the safer middle position.

There was a small pond in the middle of the jungle and there were two beautiful birds sitting on a tree. Those were the only creatures which were not perturbed by the torch lights we had. We returned back unscathed. And i went to bed thinking about the best part of the jungle trip, a visit to the Macaw clay lick ** tomorrow.


What is Symbiosis??

Symbiosis is a relationship between two different organisms in which one lives in, on, or near the other.
The are 3 types of symbiosis.
commensalisms, in which one organism benefits and the other different organism is neither harmed nor helped.
mutualism, in which both different organisms benefit from the relationship.
parasitism, in which one benefits and the other organism is harmed.

Leaf Cutter Ants

-Leaf cutters remove approximately 17% of the total annual leaf production in intact forests.
-A colony can eat as much as a grown cow in a day
i also heard another interesting case of parasitism. A wasp stings and deposit its larvae into the leaf-cutter ant. And over time the larvae develops and explodes the head of the leaf-cutter ant and the larvae uses it for food.

What is a clay Lick??

A clay lick is a place where lot of birds & mammals come to eat the salt, in peru it is called as collpa. The reason why the birds are eating the salt is this that the birds eat lot of seeds which have high toxic chemicals. The clay particles have a negative charge and most of the toxic plant chemicals have a positive charge and they negate each other. In simple words the salt at the clay lick are the bird's pepto bismol.

Who is a shaman & What is shamanism??

shaman are medicine man and their practice is called shamanism. The word shaman comes to English from the Tungus of Siberia meaning "one who walks between worlds." Although shamanic practices vary from tribe to tribe, from country to country and century to century, shamans are fundamentally teachers, healers, and guides for their communities. They use altered states of consciousness to effect healing and to journey between the world of matter and the world of spirit.
The whole shaman and shamanism is a very interesting one. Shamans take some hallucinogenic beverages for religious and spiritual reasons and healing purposes.
There are supposed to be some plants, unique to the jungle that when consumed increases the pshycoactivity of a person. The shaman drinks it before examining a patient to communicate with the spirit world, diagnose illnesses, determine guilt, and see the future.

Even though shamanism is another primitive medical practice. There are lot of studies going on it. In shamanism sometime the shaman is the person to take the drugs, not the patient. Sometimes the patient has already tried conventional medicine. If that fails, they will turn to the shaman for treatment believing that the source of the illness may be magical. During this treatment the shaman will imbibe in the drink and translate the visions he sees while under the influence of the drug. He interprets these visions so he can discern what caused the illness and fight it symbolically. The shaman will sing to the patient about the fight and in the process is freeing him from the evil . This is not the only way the drinks are used medicinally. In some cultures, the shaman and the patient will ingest the drink.

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