I apologize that this entry is somewhat out of order; however, I was caught up dealing with a llama.
Our 5 am wake up knock roused us all from our sound sleep. At least those of us in Bungalow A that didn´t have the coughing, snoring man sleeping next to them in their open roof bungalow (and no I am not off handedly referring to Dr. Cox). We all had a quick cup of coffee and then we were out on the lake in a paddle boat looking for wildlife. The lake was absolutely perfect. The sun wasn´t quite up yet and a thin mist was hanging over the trees, just what the rainforest should look like. We started our slow crawl around the shore of the lake and we hadn´t gone ten feet before we made our first wildlife sighting. A stinky bird! This chicken like creature could fly, and looked like a perfect thanksgiving decoration. We were all elated until we realized that these tree chickens were about as common as squirrels in Myers Park; therefore, they quickly lost their appeal. But soon thereafter the tour guide must have summoned Mother Nature because animals started appearing left and right. A black caiman peaking at us from under the water just a few feet from the boat. Four types of monkeys sleeping, foraging, and taking care of their young. A snake bird with a gracefully long neck and grey coloring that suddenly dives into the water and swims appearing to be a snake on the move. Kingfishers and herons snatching up fish everywhere we turned. And finally a group of the endangered giant river otter playing and hunting together. We watched these creatures for quite a while listening to their coos, grunts and other forms of communication. Two were dangerously entangled in a play fight while others swam vigorously around catching fish. It was all good fun until one noticed that we were too close and gave us a definite warning growl. So we all decided to head back in and get some breakfast.
After some pancakes and a quick hammock nap we met Oscar out by the lake to learn a little about the environment that we were visiting. He gave us the run down on the Amazon, roughly ten thousand years old and extremely threatened due to illegal logging and climate change. He told us that most of the illegal logging was done by locals in order to clear room for cattle and crops. He then showed us the Brazil nut, a sustainable crop of the Amazon that could provide a source of income for farmers and not harm the rainforest. It is extremely hard to crack open. A girl from our group even took a machete to it and it didn´t budge. But after some careful negotiation Oscar was able to crack open the coconut like outer shell to reveal the cluster of 20 to 22 nuts inside. He proceeded to crack one to check if it was alright to try. While he was working on this Caitlyn decided to go ahead a sneak a bite. Turns out the nuts were dirty and not fit to eat. Oops was all she could muster in her defense. Unfortunately at this time of the day it began to rain even though it was supposed to be the dry season. So we took a quick stroll through the garden to learn about a symbiotic relationship between fire ants and a hollow tree, or how the vampire bat sleeps in the garlic tree, and that mosquitoes are good and necessary pests because the pollinate the chocolate tree. Oscar says he tries not to kill mosquitoes because a pollinated tree makes chocolate and chocolate makes women happy. I along with a few other brave souls tried termites, the only source of food we could find in the rainforest during the dry season if we were to get lost. They were quite good once they stopped crawling around and you could squish them to the roof of your mouth. At this time the bottom dropped out and we all headed for shelter and an afternoon nap.
By the time 5 pm rolled around I was afraid that our black caiman hunting would be spoiled due to weather. But I think Oscar went to the control room and turned the sun back on because the sky lit up and we went back out on the water. Spotting caimans wasn´t that difficult and soon because a fun game. Overall, our day in the rainforest was perfect. As biology major I was in heaven but I was happy to share my experience with my fellow classmates. Actually experiencing nature provides a connection between society and wilderness and encourages one to live a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle which to me was as enlightening as any other culture adventure we had encountered thus far.