Wednesday, August 11, 1999
Today we thought it would be nice for you to hear from the other participants on this trip. Below are their thoughts on today's highlights.
Night Skiff Ride
At 8:00 p.m., after another beautiful sunset, Terry, Marty, Sally, Bill, Lilia and I got on the skiff with Fernando as the driver and Béder as our guide. As soon as we left the Delfin in the small boat, dolphins started to follow. We could hear them jumping, splashing and snorting. As we were on the way to the tributary Yanayaquillo, Béder pointed out many of the stars and constellations. We saw the upside down Big Dipper, the Milky Way, Sagittarius, Scorpio, and the Southern Cross. As we entered the tributary at a fast clip, little fish were jumping high out of the water. A couple even jumped into the boat. Béder pointed out a small black caiman along the bank. They can grow to 18 feet! We also saw a fish eating a bulldog bat and several species of birds. Even though it was completely dark, Fernando maneuvered the boat through the logs and brush in the water. We only got stuck once for a very short time and decided to just sit there and listen to the wildlife in the jungle. It was then time to go back to the Delfin and end a wonderful day and prepare for our next experience tomorrow.
San Martin Village
Today we visited San Martin Village. Because the water is low, we needed to walk out onto the skiff then onto logs to reach the shore. Many children and adults were standing in front of us to welcome us. They were as curious about us as we were about them. The town has a plaza with a soccer field surrounded by buildings. One of them is a large, two level building that houses the wildlife office and a women's club. There is a church, an open building for celebrations, two water tanks and some houses.
We got up at 6 a.m. to do more bird watching this morning. It was great. I got to see some new species for my life list and some familiar ones I had seen on previous trips to the south. I have been an avid bird watcher for seven years and have seen over 400 different types of birds.
Last night, while the rest of the group went out to listen to the night sounds, Susan, Tracy and I finished up the web pages, images and emails and prepared them for transmitting. To transmit, we put everything into email as attachments and hook up the satellite phone. From then on it is like sending a regular email except it is really, really slow. The difficult part last night was the bugs. We were covered in them immediately. Bugs got into my mouth, nose and eyes. I had to stop and get the mosquito net hat you see me wearing in the picture. The computer was so covered with bugs that at one point I could not even see the screen to watch the mail being sent.
Our Daily Rhythm
Now that we have been on the river four days we have established a familiar rhythm. Each morning we get up at 5:30 am to go bird watching. After bird watching we have breakfast and then begin our research. Most days we work from breakfast to lunch, which is served at 1:00. We work in shifts so there is some free time during the morning. After lunch we have a two-hour siesta. People read, sleep, or write in their journals during this time. Many of us also shower then as it is the warmest part of the day and it is nice to cool off. There is no hot water. The shower and the toilet are in the same tiny room. We have to be careful not to get the toilet paper wet when we shower!