The sun peeked through the canopy and shone upon my smiling face this morning at 5:45am. I was 30 meters up in a tree and had not thought in the world except, “This is going to be a glorious day”. I have headed back out into the rainforest for another exhilarating round of catching mosquitoes. I had the excellent opportunity to stop for a night at research station named Refigio on the Tambopata River and really hit it off with the staff and guides there immediately. They were so warm and inviting that I forgot about my terrible Spanish grammar and had the numerous exhilarating conversations about life, the forest, and surfing. That’s right- I found another stranded surf bum all the way out here.
I was lucky enough to be invited to go tree climbing the next morning with a couple of the guides, so I woke up at 4:45 and put my boots on. We set up the gear and one by one hauled ourselves up the rope and further into the air towards the canopy of the tree. The view over the river with the fresh morning sun was fantastic.
After our tree adventure it was suggested that I come kayaking on the river as well. Why not?? They were already taking a group of tourists and I could tag along. The slow yet gigantic river meandered along and I got to take my time, just looking around and soaking it all in. When I found out that I had 20 minutes till my boat left for the Tambopata Research Center I said ciao to my friends after thanking them for everything and turned my boat around to paddle back to the lodge. There was something so special about kayaking on the river by myself surrounded by the beauty of the rainforest that really brought me into an elated state of being.
As if the day couldn’t get any better…the tourists I was sharing a boat with are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Amongst the story telling and whatnot, the guide yelled out a word I thought I would never hear, “Jaguar”!!!! Behold,the most amazing moment of my adventure: there it was, the magnificent jaguar briskly walking along the river bank. I could not believe my eyes. Not only was this incredible cat right in front of us, but he/she then started chasing a couple of capybaras who jumped into the river to evade the attack!!! It was just all so unreal. I didn’t even get my camera out because I knew I had only a very small amount of time to see the event and I didn’t want to miss a single second. Some of the tourists had their wits about them and managed to snap a couple photos which I will post later. Needless to say, this was one of the coolest experiences of my entire life.
When I got to TRC I set up my lab and quaint little bedroom and then made my way to the dining hall. My wonderful tourists friends invited me to sit at their table at dinner and eat their amazing tourist food!! (The researchers get fed different meals of…well…a lesser quality usually). Aw heck, they even bought me a beer to celebrate the jaguar sighting today. So, like I said… best day ever. I have a lot of work to do tomorrow including setting up all my traps on my own but I have a radio and enough “stokedness” to last me a life time. How I ever managed to accumulate so much luck is still out for speculation. But I’m not complaining ;)
Photo by Alison Ravenscraft