Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bom Intento, Benjamin Constant, and Lago Jatimana

A water hyacinth, which grows on the water, like waterlilies.  I took this one back to the boat and pressed the flowers.  (Caryn took this pic)
We stayed up "late" last night playing cards with Nancy and Dave as the boat began to move back upriver in the direction of Tabatinga, and also in the direction of our main focus, the Rio Javari.  Nancy and Dave taught us a great game that they call Up And Down The River (appropriate, right?), which is easy to learn and a good combination of luck and strategy.  Staying up late actually meant staying up 'til around 8:30 or 9, in this case.  But, since we've been up early each morning, it makes sense that most people are heading to bed before 10pm, at least.  I have to admit I don't really know what time we are getting up, since I don't wear a watch and I've turned off my cell phone (gasp!), but it's early enough that we usually fit in an early morning expedition and breakfast before 8 or 9 am.  For me that's insane.  But, on the bright side, our morning wake-up call is this.

Anyway, Nancy, Dave, Kari, me, and Caryn were the only ones still up when Caryn's husband Peter finally met up with us as we neared Tabatinga (escorted by Junior's wife, Jeanne, and our friend Francisco!).  
We started out the morning today with an exploration of the flooded forest near a community called Bom Intento.  Peter enthusiastically took over as our canoe's navigator/paddler and was fairly successful.  We saw several birds, including a Gray hawk, some egrets, kiskadees, and kingfishers.  Also, a tiny, adorable tree frog who jumped on Kari (who screamed a little!) and then onto my hand :)  So cute!  Turns out he is a pygmy hatchet-faced tree frog.

After the exploration, the boat set off again upriver, heading for the town of Benjamin Constant, where Francisco hopes to find our local Rio Javari guide.  I decided not to get off the boat for Benjamin Constant, but I had a great view from the top deck, and watched all sorts of activity from there.  Also, enjoyed the loud music and fireworks (or some other explosions?) which went off every ten minutes or so.  Some of the group found a local Ticuna museum, which they said was excellent.  Francisco was unable to find our guide.  Also, it seems one of the boat's generators needed a replacement part, but the mechanic in Benjamin Constant who went off to retrieve the piece never returned and couldn't be tracked down, so we went on without it.  There are two other generators, right?
View of the flooded forest from our canoe
My little tree frog!
Here's a (blurry) pic of him on my hand, for scale
Mauri's reading for the day....that name seems familiar...
View of Benjamin Constant
...and another
In the afternoon, we stopped further upriver at the town of Atalaia Do Norte, which is the last town on our route as we head into the more remote Rio Javari.  Francisco tracked down a different local guide, Everisto (a member of one of the local tribes), and we were on our way up the Rio Javari and officially in the area of Vale do Javari.  Of note, we were given a specific warning to avoid an upcoming left turn, which would lead us down a river into the territories of the so-called Korubo tribe, one of the tribes that has no contact with outsiders and has demonstrated some violence in the past.  So...we didn't make the left turn and instead stayed on the Javari.

We stopped in the late afternoon for an exploration of a nearby oxbow lake -- formed by what was once a hairpin turn in the river.  This lake, called Lago Jatimana (but lovingly referred to as Lago Not-Yo'-Mama), was very smooth and pretty.  We saw several birds and also a beautiful sunset.
It's like a mirror!

One of the other canoes, serious about their bird-spotting
Our boat was all about the pics -- even Canta Galo.
Elias and Canta Galo did their Titanic impression... and then Elias explained in halting (and giggling) English that he was Jack and Canta Galo was Rosie.  They made a cute, but ultimately doomed, couple.

I have about a hundred variations of this photo, but figured one was enough for now.
Email me if you want to see them all!

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