I watch a dugout canoe glide slowly to the dock, 100 miles upriver from Iquitos, Peru. A child, perhaps three years old, reaches out while mom turns her back. I hold my breath. What if she pinches her fingers, or falls into the water? My apprehension turns out to be unfounded, as mother and child disembark safely. Life's tasks are learned at an early age here.
I’ve long dreamed of visiting the Amazon. Inoculations, insects, humidity, and 90˚ temperatures would not deter me. All came true when I spent six days at Explorama lodges.
Rising before the sun, we boat along tributaries of the Amazon, and hike in virgin rainforest (Explorama has preserved thousands of acres of jungle around its lodges). My guide, Luis, is an encyclopedia of information on the fauna and flora of the habitats we scout. I fill my memory cards with photos of exotic birds, iguanas, snakes, monkeys, river dolphins, and other creatures. Each evening, after hanging my shirt and pants out to dry, I crawl under the mosquito netting over the bed in my open air room, and fall peacefully asleep listening to the sounds of the night.
Most memorable, however, are the scenes of river life, such as the little girl, that occur each day: wooden shacks on stilts (no electricity, no running water) hover precariously over flood waters; chickens peck the dirt; fish and bananas grill over a metal drum; children swim; dogs wag their tails. This is life on river’s edge. I’m anxious to return.