It's a creekmore world

Peru Day 11: The Amazon – Dolphins and Alligators and Time-Travel.

A 'Cayman' Alligator about 6 feet long just in front of us.

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It’s a relief to get out of bed in the morning and move around. It’s hot in the room. Outside, a pouring rain dumps on the Amazon rainforest surrounding our lodge. Mud splashes everywhere.

In the dining hall, it’s a bit cooler and they have coffee already made in a gigantic thermos container. I hope this rain stops long enough for us to get some good sightings of animals.

My littlest, Lily comes through the doors in bare feet and pajamas. Without saying a word, she crawls into my arms. She had a nightmare last night and switched places with Trish so she could sleep next to me. She yawns and asks if we are going to have pancakes for breakfast. I don’t know, of course, but she is still at that age that Daddy has the answers for everything.

Emma and Lily in the waning sun.
How to stay young

We obviously enjoy travel – to fight through the problems, marvel at the surprises and tell the story afterward. We like the adrenaline rush, the danger and the way we love our home so much more after a long trip.

But the reason why I love our family travel isn’t the travel, it’s the family. The way our lives are programmed at home, we don’t get a lot of good time together. Sure, we’re in the same house for few hours a day, but each person is doing a separate thing – homework, activities, entertainment.

This looks MadMax - post-apocalyptic.  This is a boat full of hammocks.  We aren't sure what it was for.
And the Creekmores don’t do Sunday dinners, or have game night, or have some kind of special event that we do together at home. Neither Trish nor I are very arts-n-craftsy, so we don’t do that sort of stuff with the kids. (Although I cook with them once in a while.)

Travelling is our family time. And we get a lot of it. Adventure travel puts all four of us together, focused on the same thing, engaged in the same way, interacting with each other, usually all day long. It’s better than a beach vacation where the kids go play in the surf and Dad reads a book in the sun (although that can be great too!)

The driver rubs his eyes.  Lily finds the jungle a little creepy.
On average, we get 20 good hours a week with our kids at home (that’s a high estimate.) We get five times that amount traveling in a week. ALmost every minute of every day is spent, all four together, which means a two week trip is like 10 weeks of time with our girls that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

We are cheating time, time travel if you will. How else do you make extra time with your rapidly-getting-older kids? They grow up so fast and, (if you do it right) they leave, never to return.

And later, when I think back on our time as a family, it will be this time together that I remember.

Pancakes

A dragonfly on Emma's hair.
At first Lily is excited, they are serving pancakes. But they turn out to be very fried on the outside and mushy inside, more like fried batter than fluffy pancakes. She looks around nervously for something with which to take her malaria pill. She can’t yet swallow a pill, so I need to crush it up into food. Fortunately, Jan, another traveller brought some peanut butter, which works perfectly.

After breakfast we set up our day with Herman. Unfortunately it’s still pouring rain so hiking in the forest is out. We decide to wait a little bit and hope it breaks up. The rains have been going steadily since last night, which is longer than usual.

We play in the hammock and I try to do more of this blog with the dwindling battery power of my laptop. I wish they had a little bit of electric power here, just enough to charge a device or two.

Exploring the Amazon

Early in the day, our guide Herman shows us a flower.
By 10:30 we launch our boat. The rains have slowed but the skys are still grey. We really want to go Piranha fishing and monkey sighting, so our driver takes us down river 30 minutes. Because Piranha live in the shallows, we need to drive into the flooded forest and find a secluded spot.

Piranha and catfish are the most commonly caught fish in the Amazon for food. There are over 3000 species of fish up and down the waterways of the Amazon river basin, but most are not caught for food. The catfish, which can be several feet in length is a bottom dweller that feeds off trash and has mealy meat like it’s North American cousin.

The flooded forest.
The Piranha, (piraña, in Spanish) is not one fish, but a family of 30 or so that have developed a reputation for ferocity and violence. The truth is something less than that. They are carnivores and voracious eaters, but even at their largest size (15 inches) or largest groups (30) they pose very little danger to people.

Most known pirahna attacks are on fishermen handling them and getting a fingertip nipped off, or by starved, panicked piranha trapped in pools at low water. Kids swim in the Amazon all the time, untouched by the piranha.

THIS is the biting kind.
And yes, they are very tasty but have a ton of bones. Cooks slice them crosswise in thin strips before cooking, breaking up the bones, which you then eat along with the flesh.

The one that got away.

Unfortunately we didn’t get a lot of nibbles fishing today (unless you count Lily’s, who said she was getting nibbles constantly) There is so much water that the fish disperse.

We head deeper into the jungle, driving the boat right over the land we would be walking if it were a drier season. The trees survive for weeks with roots entirely below water, something a tree in our climate couldn’t survive.

Herman pilots our boat.
The way to catch Pirahna, is to simulate the way they feed. Piranhas are more like vultures than lions. They prey on the weak, especially bugs and fish, but also sometimes birds that fall wounded from a tree. So unlike any other fishing I’ve done you want to stir the surface of the water rapidly to simulate an animal falling in the water, and then put a hook in with some kind of fish, worm or in our case – fresh, bloody meat.

Fishing for Piranha.  Lily thinks she gets a lot of nibbles.  Emma catches a lot of branches.
Again our location gives us no fish, just a few nibbles. Surprisingly, the girls like it, Lily especially does as she tells us about all the bites she’s getting. ‘Oh that one was huge, I justcouldn’t catch it!” Sure, Lily. We know.

Is that a monkey!

Teddy, our driver says something in Spanish to Herman. Herman tells us to hush. In a tree about 100 feet away, is a sloth, climbing slowly. He takes a little bit to spot but we can clearly see him moving slowly up the tree.

Herman tells us it’s the two-toed sloth, which are much rarer. I try to get pictures, but we don’t have enough telephoto zoom to capture it. But it’s super cool the way they climb incredibly slowly and powerfully.  (This is a stock photo of a sloth.)

Sloths are fascinating animals. They spend most of their lives with their legs above their head, hanging even when asleep. Their fur is arranged in the opposite direction from most mammals because of their upside down orientation. Sloths have only a quarter of the muscle mass of the typical mammal, which is why they move so slowly.

it's hot, but boots, pants and long-sleeves are a must.
They protect themselves by not attracting attention and always staying in the tree. They only pee and crap once a week, coming down to the ground to do so, and oddly, burying it in a hole and covering it up. How refined! ( Go To Next Page Below)

One thought on “Peru Day 11: The Amazon – Dolphins and Alligators and Time-Travel.

  1. Duffy

    We ate at a resort in Surinam (almost an oxymoron) where they claimed river swimming was safe because they had netted the whole area to keep the piranha out.

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