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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Brazil - 17 March, 2002

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Jerry's Lodge, Rio Mamori, Amazon rain forest S0341.772' W05948.593' 33 m
-  Jungle walk . . . .
-  Manioc processing . . . .
Finish Jerry's Lodge, Rio Mamori, Amazon rain forest S0341.772' W05948.593' 33 m 5 km (on foot)

Leg 3 Total:

8,025 km

Leg 2 Total:

12,140 km

Leg 1 Total:

9,010 km

Galapagos:

771 km

Grand Total:

30,145 km

 

Weather: Partly cloudy, sunny, very hot, humid and occasional rain.  Cool at night.

 

 

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Today is a very busy day.  First we watch the sunrise while we are waiting for breakfast.  A very nice sun rise through the early morning mist.

 

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After breakfast, we have a caiman race.  The caimans that we captured last night are all placed in a line up on the slope above the river.  We take bets and they are then let go to a loud roar from the crowd.  Nothing happens ...  They just sit there and stare at us.  After a bit of prodding and a splash of water, one races off and heads down to the river (that is the one we selected).  Then all hell breaks lose when the rest all scatter in different directions and people are jumping out of the way as the caimans race off under people's feet.

 

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We then head off in the dinghy to go for a walk in the jungle.  We are dropped off and then begin our walk.  But before we begin our ealk, we are told about the two things that we have to watch out for that can kill us - 24 hour ants (if one bites you, you will have a fever for 24 hours and be very ill.  A few bite you, you will die) and killer bees (they were developed by mistake by a German scientist who was trying to develop a super honey bee -all he developed was super killer bees that attacked and killed his assistant and the escaped.  The only escape is to jump in water).  We spend about four and a half hours wandering through the forest.  We see many things, including termites, parrots, menthol tree, the Brazil nut tree, a vine that produces a nifty hallucinogenic drug, red mahogany that goes for about $3,000 per cubic meter, the quinine tree, the fiber tree (from which the Indians make rope), the bubble gum tree (the sap is very yummy and a vine that can produce a sap to treat many eye ailments.  We also drank the water from a vine that stores the freshest water in the jungle.

 

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We were also shown a small type of coconut which has four small pods.  These small pods will act as host to worms that the Indians love to eat.  Some tasted them - yuck!!

 

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The culinary highlight of this trek was the fresh heart of palm that we had.  But we had to work for it.  The guide found us a palm tree, gave us the machete and told us to get to work.  We took turns chopping down the tree - not as easy as it may seem.  After quite a bit of chopping, down came the tree.

 

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After peeling back the last outer layers, the heart of the palm was exposed and we took turns taking bites from it.  It was yummy.  We will now have a tough time eating heart of palm that is not fresh - it will not seem the same any more.  We then headed back to the boat.  It rained on our walk back, but it was a nice way to cool off after all that hard work.

 

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After lunch back at the camp, we go for a swim and a wash in the river.  Then it is siesta time - one of the best parts of the day.  After our nap, we go and process manioc.  We first head out in the dinghy to the field where they grow the manioc plant.  Every year they will clear an acre of the jungle - hard work using just machetes and then burn it to clear away all the vegetation.  They will leave the large trees standing.  Then they plant.  Why do they plant manioc, which contains enough cyanide to kills hundreds of people (we were told to wash our hands and not put them to our eyes or mouth if we touched a cut plant)?  It is quite simple - the animals will steal anything else that is planted (such as bananas and other fruit), but not the manioc as it will kill them.  It is to difficult to guard these fields (they will grow vegetables and fruits in the land right around the their homes), so the manioc guards itself.  But then they had to come up with a way to remove the cyanide (the guide said he always wondered how many Indians died learning the process thousands of years ago).

 

We took some of the roots back with us and went to their manioc processing facility.  Manioc is the primary staple in their diet - high in starch and proteins and forms a key component of the diet here.  They first peel the root, then they grate it.  They then rinse the grated manioc with water in a burlap sack - this takes out 90% of the cyanide.  After this the large burlap bags are put into a mechanical press and the water squeezed out - this takes out another 9%, leaving 1% of the original cyanide which is safe, we are told, for human consumption.

 

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The squeezed grated manioc is then slowly roasted in huge pans that are heated by a wood fire.  They slowly stir the manioc around.  We taste some that comes fresh out of the pan and it is very good.  Something like corn flakes with a bit more of a crunch.

 

The rest of the afternoon is spent swimming and relaxing before dinner.  After dinner we hang out watching the stars.  We are interrupted when we notice that two of our group are missing.  They had gone off in a canoe had had not come back, even though it was now dark.  Some of us went off in a dinghy to go look for them, but they came back in the meantime.  They were given a lift by some of the locals.  Then off to our hammocks and another firefly show.

 

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