Tamara's Journal Continued

May 6, 2000

I am back from a two week visit to the United States. I had a nice visit with my family and enjoyed talking to my friends on the telephone and eating my favorite foods. Still, I am very happy to be back in Peru. I have missed being out on the river and I wonder where the dolphins are and what they are doing right now.

This week in Iquitos is very busy. The boat builders have been busy working on the boat, but because of several holidays and then many, many rainy days, the work has been delayed and I worry the boat wonÕt be ready in time. The volunteers will arrive on the 13 of May and we leave early the morning of the 14th to travel to the Pacaya Samiria Reserve and to continue the dolphin study.

The captain still has to clean the boat, the mechanic has to make sure the engine is running smoothly, and the cook has to plan the meals and buy the food. Enzo, the research assistant, has been busily entering the data into the computer and also checking on the boat every day to make sure that the work is being done while I was away.


May 14, 2000

Good news! The boat is finished. It looks like a brand new boat and it almost is. The hull and the sides are new, the plumbing is new, the lights are new, and it has a fresh coat of paint. The boat builders, their helpers, my crew and I had a little party on the boat.

We broke champagne on the bow, then everyone had a glass of champagne and made short speeches to wish the boat good luck. We all raised our glasses and toasted to the new improved Miron Lento.





home | map of peru | site map contact us | glossary



























May 15, 2000

The volunteers, crew, Enzo and I are on the boat in the reserve. We have had a few days of training to learn about the dolphins and to teach the volunteers about the research and the equipment. Now we are counting dolphins!

May 15th was the day the water reached its highest point in the Peruvian Amazon around the Pacaya Samiria Reserve. Little by little we can see it slowly falling again. It will reach its lowest point in July or August. There is still a lot of water though and many of the houses are partially underwater. People here live in houses high up on stilts, but even then the water may rise high enough to flood the houses. Most of the kids and the animals are in the houses and it must be hard to sit inside all day with so many people and no where to go. It reminds me of when I was a little girl and lived in South Dakota. We would get blizzards in the winter and sometimes we would get snowed in for days. We called it cabin fever when we felt tired of being in the house all of the time.

We are not seeing many dolphins right now. I think it is because the water is so high and there is so much more water around to look at. Also, the water is up in the rainforest now so the botos can moved up there as well although it is very difficult to see them back under the trees.

We had some problems with the boat engine and were afraid that we would have to spend a few days waiting until a mechanic came from Iquitos, but luckily Antonio, the mechanic and first mate on the boat, were able to determine what the problem was and fix it. Out here on the river it is important to know how to do many things for yourself. I am hoping that the crew will teach me a lot about boats and how to fix them this year.

Back to Top

May 20, 2000

We are in the Reserve now. It is beautiful and it looks so different from just a month ago when I was last here. The water is really high and it is impossible to tell where the water ends and the land begins. We couldn't find any dry land to hike on so we took our usual jungle walk from inside of dugout canoes this time.

We are seeing lots on insects on this trip, especially on the boat, on us and our clothes. Most of the spiders and beetles and ants live on the forest floor when the water is lower, but now that it is high, they are up on the leaves of the trees and vines. They are looking for dry land and climb happily aboard when they see our boat! The volunteers and crew are not so happy about this and we always have to make sure to check our beds and clothes for spiders and ants. One lady even found a spider weaving a web on the corner of her glasses- -while she was still wearing them!

One morning we went on a bird-watching trip in the little boat before beginning the day's work of counting dolphins. The dolphins found us anyway though and some botos swam around and around the boat. Some swam under the boat and blew bubbles that made strange sounds when they popped on the bottom of the metal boat. We have also seen spider monkeys and howler monkeys. The howler monkeys have been very loud and it always startles people when they first hear them and don't know what they are. They make a rumbling noise and some people think it sounds like a big wind storm is on its way. The howler monkeys use this noise to tell the world where their territory is located.


May 24, 2000

We are still in the reserve but have turned around and are headed down river to Iquitos. We will count dolphins as we go. The boat is moving very slowly since the motor has come lose from the bottom of the boat and our extra hardware supplies have some how disappeared. We will have to try to buy some new nails in the first village we come to.

We are in luck! The rangers have some spare parts at the ranger station that they lend us and Antonio fixes the boat. Once again we are on our way! This was a good trip and we were able to collect a lot of data and learn a lot about the rainforest. Below are some diary entries from one of my volunteer, Anna-Lena. Anna-Lena is from Great Britain. She wanted to share some of her experiences with you.


May 24, 2000

We've been on the boat for about a week and a half and yesterday was my favorite day so far. It began rather ominously, as we'd hoped for a peaceful night at Ranger Station two, deep in the Reserve, but around 12 AM our peace was disturbed by the arrival of another boat which kept a generator going all night long. After dragging ourselves out of our mosquito net cocoons and eating breakfast, we four volunteers had a jungle walk planned. Turned out that the water was so high that it would have to be a trip by dugout instead! We had to wade through mud and water to get to the trail and then Quarto, the park ranger paddled us along.

We saw the jungle close up, in fact sometimes a bit too close where the spiders and ants were concerned! We saw the large buttresses of trees that I'd seen in pictures of the jungle and plenty of epiphytes, palms and vines that we had to keep ducking to avoid. We also caught a brief sight of some monkeys running and jumping around one of the trees. We had a quick clean up then set off up river to the Atun Cocha lake where we were due to carry out a couple of dolphin transects. On our way Jonas, our captain spotted not one but two sloths! They were much larger than I'd expected and strangely resembled a large ET. One was hanging by all four limbs under the branch of a cecropia tree and the other appeared to be hugging its tree and turned its head ever so slowly as we watched. Amazing!

We continued on to the lake only to find that our way was blocked by dense vegetation. It was decided to try to find an alternative way through using the small motor boat and fortunately we made it! It was good fun doing a transect in a different way and it was easy to cool off by dipping hats and hands in the water. We saw both botos and tucuxis and as usual the botos came close enough to the boat to get us excited. We took our cameras out and then they reappeared in a completely different spot. More shots of water!

We started our return back down the channel taking environmental measurements as we went but were interrupted by a loud racket that Tamara said was a group of howler monkeys close by. We made a diversion down another channel and managed to find them. They stopped their howling as we approached but we saw a few as they climbed or jumped to get out of sight. We even heard a couple of loud splashes which sounded like they were jumping into the water! After the monkeys had disappeared we headed back to the Miron and Ranger Station two and got a chance for a long desired cool swim and a go at paddling the dugout. It was certainly quite tippy when you sat on the seat. The bottom of the dugout was a much more stable position. I had always wanted to try canoeing in the rain forest. It was excellente! A couple of cool drinks were a fitting end to my perfect day!


Back to Top