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Queros-Wachiperi: DAY 6

November 22, 2010

Mushrooms

11.12.2010

In better spirits today. The morning got off to a slow start. Cooking breakfast takes a long time over a fire. No instant oatmeal for these guys. We had rice and fish cooked in bamboo stalks. You stuff the hollow bamboo with the fish and cap both ends with palm leaves. It takes about 30 minutes for the fish to cook. After breakfast, I was ready to go, but the men had to have their coca. I paced the small trail to the river, turning over leaves in search of insects.

We left at 9am, but leaving only involved walking to one side of the camping area and starting to open a trail. They open the forest like opening a book. I got caught up in a patch of mushrooms for a few minutes. When I looked up from my viewfinder, there was a path through previously impenetrable jungle. I ventured forth, amazed by the spectacular forest. A weevil sat on a palm frond by the trail, apparently undisturbed by the recent passing of 6 machete-bearing men. I spent the morning taking pictures and arrived at the collpa, or clay lick, at lunchtime. A collpa is a place where mammals and birds go to find nutrients and minerals. It is believed that birds use the minerals to neutralize some of the compounds they consume in seeds. We had lunch on a riverbank littered with the most colorful stones I have ever seen. The riverbed is like a crumbled rainbow.

After lunch, Ana stayed with me and we found some flowers and insects. We took our time along the new trail to the second collpa. Our arrival was greeted by a troop of wooly monkeys and a brief sighting of an antpitta. Freddy was selected to stay with me at the collpa until dusk to see if any mammals would visit. We sat in a cloud of sweat bees and mosquitoes for two hours. Freddy periodically whacked his bare flesh with the back of his palm and I wrapped myself in my raincoat and poncho to ward off the biters. Nothing came, but we did find tapir tracks.

We returned to the campsite for a dinner of noodle soup and cocoa nuts. Marcos, the President of the community, climbed a tree and knocked down 2 buckets full of the cocoa nuts. You boil them and peel each nut, scooping the meat out with a spoon. I ate over 3 dozen, peeling them with my bare hands and sucking at the nutmeat by the light of the cooking fire. It certainly beats Hersheys chocolate. Ana mashed up a huge number of the nuts and mixed the meat with sugar, milk, and water. We had the freshest hot chocolate you can possibly imagine. I will sleep well tonight.

Caña caña blanca flower

Tortoise beetle

Cocoa nuts mashed with bamboo for hot chocolate

 

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2010 8:37 pm

    you are nailing some awesome shots!!!!!! way to go!

  2. Lorraine Marshall permalink
    November 22, 2010 9:58 pm

    Gabby,
    So nice to read the recent posts–your photos are brilliant, and your writing actually makes us feel that we are right along there with you! We miss you and love you and always are glad to know that you are well. What an experience!

  3. Steve permalink
    November 23, 2010 6:46 pm

    Yes, great narrative and photos! You’re very talented! I’m about ready to hop on a plane and start hiking with you, but now I remember that I’m way out of shape! Perhaps in February…

  4. December 1, 2010 2:07 pm

    good luck with your blog Gaby. Here are some ID`s with your photos. The green tortoise beetle looks to be Omocerus insculptus. The green scarab is a female Oxystermon lautum. The tortoise beetle with red is Agenysa peruviana, a species I work on myselve here in Iquitos. Can you tell me where you took that one; at what altitude? The epiphyte is some kind of fern.

    greetings,

    Rob Westerduijn

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