When entering the Las Piedras, I was unsure of what to expect from the experience. In a location teeming with biodiversity and mystery, I felt like I should expect exquisite sights and sounds and stories—especially since my focus was on the wildlife.
Walking out of the rainforest, there is an important lesson that I am taking away with me: the definition of impressive. Honestly, I never saw a jaguar or an ocelot or a speckled caiman. I’m not disappointed by this; the sights I saw were by pure luck, and I am appreciative of that. I saw two species of monkeys, scarlet macaws, at least 15 species of butterfly, mammoth grasshoppers, numerous frogs, too many arachnids to handle, and endless amounts of other animals. Each experience with each species was like a personal milestone, marking a moment in which the window to the world was cracked open a little wider, letting in a little more light into my life.
In the rainforest, it is the little things which make up the incredible wonderland that it is. Personally, the butterflies captured this sentiment best. On the dry days, they were everywhere! I hopped from platform to platform, my camera hanging by my neck, standing motionless in the center of trails to wait for the one that fluttered by to rest on my sweaty wrist or on a palm leaf nearby. Little bouts of beauty, their wings tattered and bright, lit up my days and reminded me that the jungle is not only about the charismatic megafauna which are glorified by the world. Dangerousness and glory does not necessitate being impressive
How Do You See?
Christina G. DeJoseph
Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching—these words just are not enough for the sensation stimulation of the jungle. Everything in every place here supplies an opportunity for exploration. Stars are twinkling, the forest is singing, we are reeking, mouths are watering, as our bodies are tingling. I can taste anticipation, I can hear excitement, and I can see exhaustion. My pupils are wide open no matter the lighting because all that is around me is worth absorbing.
I close my eyes and can see positivity. Every day was wicked fulfilling because we were adventuring; truly adventuring. My goal one day is having a business card that reads:
Christina G. DeJoseph
is one step closer. A capuchin monkey hid behind a palm leaf, then poked his head out playfully for a game of peek-a-boo. On night hikes, I learned to halt when seeing sparkling lights in the forest: eye shine. Tiny blue insect eyes, orange mammal eyes, and purple spectacled caiman eyes.
Sometimes all we would see were the eyes and imagination filled the gap. That’s the thing–you don’t see everything, but how you see what you see makes the sight greater. I turned into a child (that wasn’t too hard, I’m pretty easily amused) and saw the world as if it were the first time. It was my first time in this world.
Imagination actuality supplemented my overwhelmed senses. The combination of imagining an anaconda at my feet while knee-deep in a swamp and then actually seeing anaconda traces created a beautiful picture. Seeing the flashes of lightning with tired eyes and the mud fill up the clear waters created the scenery. From this moment on, every sense with come alive when I envision this world.
The Mighty Jungle–and Otters
We just finished our second dinner out here in the forest. Evenings are warm and you can hear the ambiance of the forest well. In the mornings I hear howler monkeys, and in the evening is often a mix of different bugs, frogs, and other amphibians.
The canopy of the rainforest is like a ceiling and so seeing the stars from the platform is difficult however there are breaks where you can see it well.
Today was our first day out. We had breakfast early which was followed by a long hike of about 4 or 5 hours where we, with the help of one of our guides “harry turner’ were able to set up some ‘camera traps’. Camera traps are cameras set up on trees and other locations that pick up motion in hopes of seeing different wildlife.
We see different species of moths, butterflies and beetles. While walking we also came across different animal tracks, some of which were of the notorious jaguar.
During the hike we were guided through a couple of lakes, across log bridges and other terrain challenges. While passing through lakes we saw tracks of an anaconda in the water.
Yesterday morning the “ecotourism” and “wildlife” group left the base camp to set an encampment upriver. We packed our shit and Marcos, Aldo and Luis drove us up river a couple of hours. Along the way we saw waterfalls, claylicks and macaws.
The birds were wild and blue, red, and green. All around colorful and large, we continued to sail up until we arrived at our post, where we would be on the lookout for river otters. At first we were not sure if we would be able to go out, or not because we would need a raft.
However, once the O.K was given from the owners we went in and had a look.
Luis and I rowed the boat for a couple hours up and down a body of water that circled around an island. We were able to see the river otters after all, along with monkeys, birds, and different types of butterflies.
That night we stayed at a platform lodge, so that we could head out into the jungle again in the morning. We needed to check out some camera traps near a “claylick” where mammals gather to lick the salt and other minerals from the clay.