Amazon Natural Medicines
I dreamed of some type of conference where our former governor, Ray Mabus, was a main speaker and someone gave a talk on green fashion and clothing. Sleeping was delicious. The sounds of the lagoon with deep bullfrogs and other birds was really rich. At first light we were up and getting ready for some bird watching on the river. I sat up and meditated for an hour early this morning and wrote a poem. Yesterday we had agreed on a name for our tribe, partly on my suggestion. The name comes from animals that appeared to us. First, in the film we watched before entering the rainforest, about the eagle and the condor, we were clearly from the eagle tribe and about to visit a condor tribe. Then just after we got off the plane, a magnificent large translucent blue Morpho butterfly flew right in front of several of us. Then on the way up the river, the howling monkeys show themselves right above us. Thus the name, Howling Blue Eagle Tribe. Here is the poem
Just after dawn we went to the river and got in one of those long narrow canoes to see birds.
We saw many kinds of parrots, macaws, toucans, kingfishers, herons and terns. It seems there is a place on the shore where there is a bank of clay that the birds eat to help with digestion.
We also saw a big lizard on a tree trunk.
After returning to the lodge and having breakfast, Daniel talks with us about the shaman experience that is planned for the community visit. Not to be afraid. Not to try to compare it to any previous experience. To let go of all the buzzing thoughts in our minds. We talked about natem, the vine whose properties are considered sacred by the indigenous people throughout this part of the world.
In the afternoon we took a boat ride up the smaller river and got dropped off.
Simon lead us on a long walk to learn about the medicinal value of plants. It quickly became clear that a day of random eating in the rainforest would be your last day. So many things the eye was naturally drawn to were toxic. We learned about the tree that produces dragon blood. Here you can see the small cut in the trunk and the stain of the sap.
Charlotte tried some on a bump in her scalp. We chewed on a vine that produces quinine.
I had this vision of two pharmacies. The one nearest you and the rainforest. Which one depends on the other? Which one has the most medicine? Which one is sustainable?
We went through very muddy stretches and met lots of ants. A couple times Charlotte jumped out of her shirt to get biting ants off her. They were in her knee-high boots too. Charlotte got 25-30 very bad ant bites. Others got some bites too.
We stopped at an innocent looking short plant and found it was so toxic it was sometimes used for suicide.
As we learned more and more, I felt so silly to be so ignorant of these qualities of our local plants and trees of the forest. I will start fixing that gap in my knowledge. We met another group from the Kapawi lodge headed in the opposite direction. They told us of being stung by wasps. Later on the path there was a fallen wasp nest and Simon made a path around it.
Next to this palm stump was the palm trunk. When palms are cut, their trunk is often left sitting for about three months. During that time a delicious grub worm colony multiplies in the wood and these worms are a great delicacy.
Every so often we would come across one of these really big fig trees.
This tree is called a walking palm. Over time it puts down new roots in the direction of the prevailing wind and very slowly moves in that direction.
Finally we made it to the larger river.
One of the most visible trees in the forest is called a fire tree. It produces these wonderful orange-red and black seeds that are great for making jewelry.
As we got in a boat to cross the river and go upstream to near a beautiful lagoon, it began to rain hard.
As we ate in the woods by the river it rained hard and we joked that the food was getting watered down. The heavy rain had us change our plan and skip the lagoon. We headed back to Kapai Lodge.
On the way back we spotted a tree full of smaller monkeys
After a short rest, we went out on the boat and down the big river to a huge black sand sandbar.
While waiting to get started, we saw some more howler monkeys.
When we got out and started walking around on the sandbar,
Charlotte asked about what looked like a crab hole in the sand.
Simon dug out the strange animal that was hiding deep under the sand.
We watched the sun set and headed back for dinner.
After dinner we went out in the dark on the river. We stayed in silence as Simon used a powerful flashlight to search for cayman (they are like crocodiles) and night birds. We didn’t see much but I found it fascinating to get such an insight into how Simon’s Achuar attention worked. Sounds that I would have been drawn to, he apparently instantly knew and would ignore. He was able to “see” an area much quicker that I.
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