Rainforest Adventures: Fin and Scale

One of our special outings in the rainforest was a trip to wade through a Henna tree swamp in search of the elusive Anaconda. Armed with our tall rubber boots, cameras, and hats, we landed the canoe on a muddy clay beach and our guide ran ahead to see if the Anaconda was at home. Our group of 5 strolled slowly, taking in the forest, alert for animal sightings. Several of us were hunkered down talking in hushed voices while observing big Leaf Cutter Ants making mince out of a tree when suddenly another guide came ripping down the trail shouting at his group to hurry up as the Anaconda was waiting. “Hurry! Run!”, he shouted as he whizzed past us.   We shouted to him as he passed, referring  to our current ant observations.  ” Who cares about ants? You can see ants any day! The anaconda is there!”,  he yodeled as he and his group, a flurry of bootless and scantily clad youth, ran heedlessly to the swamp, cameras dangling alarmingly from their necks.

Leaf Cutter Ants marching down their pheromone highway. See them? They are carrying bright green little pieces of leaf.

We emerged at a middle-aged pace from the forest onto the edge of the swamp and  found  20 or so raucous young adults wading through the muddy water with no boots, not even any shoes. That’s right: they were walking barefooted or sandaled through the watery muck. They  grabbed branches willy nilly as they climbed through, giving no thought to what they grabbed. Seriously, haven’t they ever heard of instant death-by-things-underwater; invisible-until-they-grab-you? Didn’t they know there are bugs that can kill you in the rainforest?  Have they never heard of leeches, even? Did they think there was only ONE big snake in that swamp? Have they not grown up watching Animal Planet? Apparently not. Goaded on by their guide, they swung like simians through the trees, leaping from water to branch and then landing with splashes all around within fang’s reach of the giant reptile. Grateful that they had now scared any other living being completely away from our area, I followed more sedately.

Can you find the Anaconda? Another group of people  is approaching the snake from the opposite side of the swamp.

See the snake?

I was having a ‘Get off my lawn, youngster!’ moment as I lamented that we were there to view wildlife, not party, and that surely said life would be more willing to show themselves if we observed the time honored tradition of being a little less wild ourselves in the forest as we communed with nature. Wrong. The anaconda turned out to be less elusive and shy than reputed and the two guides were standing by the beast, who was stretched out in the water in the middle of the Henna trees doing its best imitation of a tree branch. Fortune must protect the young and the ignorant because although many of these people put their cameras actually right up into its face,  the 10 foot snake didn’t bat an eye or even try to eat them. Stupid snake. It could have had the biggest meal of its life, but no. Yours truly climbed onto a limb slightly above the creature to photograph its head, making sure there was always someone younger and more nubile and tender between my humble self and the reptile. Had the snake been hungry, it could afford to be choosey. 

I suspected foul play against the monster. Had it been drugged? Clubbed and stunned?  Seems like any smart animal would have made itself scarce by this time. It was as still as death, but our guide said it was just scared and using its cryptic coloration, the snake equivalent of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, to stay ‘hidden’ (Which it was not. Hidden, that is. We could totally see it.). It did, at first, look like a branch lying in the water. It was so very still that Mike watched  for awhile after people began to disperse, until the snake finally moved and he could tell it lived. I kind of wanted to touch it so I could say I had touched a real anaconda in the wild, but I thought of my mother and gave that idea up.

It was a reptile day as that evening we took the canoe out for a little Caiman Lizard spotting. When I was a small girl I was enchanted with reptiles. That was back in the 1960’s when Caiman Lizards were sold as pets under the guise of ‘baby aligators’. The ’60’s were a dark time for animal rights activists, if there had been such a thing back then. The word ‘baby’ was lost on me in terms of the implication that such animals actually do not stay small. I wanted one. My dad said I could have one. I probably harassed him into promising me one if I would just give him a moment’s peace. Alas, it was a promise he didn’t keep. But I refuse to be bitter about that. Viewing an 8 foot Caiman Lizard from the false safety of our canoe, I realize it’s just as well he didn’t. I recall telling him I could keep the animal in the bathtub. Right. Some days I feel sorry for my parents.

Using a flashlight to reflect off his glowing eyes. This lizard was maybe 6 feet long? 5 feet? 8? Who really knows. It was plenty large.

Here are a couple more reptiles we saw. I’m going to say the baby Parrot Snake we got to play with was a highlight of the trip. So delicate and sweet. I carried him around for awhile, just letting him cling on to my wrist with his tiny tail. He was such a pretty wee thing.

Amazon Thorny Tailed Iguana

Black skinned parrot snake. He was like living jewelry. So delicate and lovely.

Okay, so some people might see that we’ve improved the site a bit. It was looking kind of dated and we wanted to improve people’s ability to navigate between posts, look for posts on certain subjects, etc. We are still uncertain if the email subscribe works as that’s been fairly stubborn. Do us a favor and test it out, if you are not already email subscribed. And let us know what you think about the site usability. After over 5 years of posts, there’s a lot of content here and we hate for it all to get buried. More tweaking and additions to come, and your thoughts and comments are welcome.

I forgot to add the ‘fin’ part of this post. These are the Pink River Dolphins. We shared the river with them for awhile.

17 thoughts on “Rainforest Adventures: Fin and Scale

    • I’ve never been squeamish about animals; only the one insect. I actually wish we’d seen more reptiles and amphibians. I may have one more post with pretty creatures in me, though. Trying to sort and organize hundreds of photos, and delete the losers, is so time consuming.

  1. Love the new look of your site! I was completely entranced with the reptiles, though as a mother, I was horrified by the carefree youngsters apparent fearlessness. Raises a lot of philosophical points. I was most fascinated by the Caiman Lizard. I wanted to love him, and did, in the way that I would love a dragon. He looked supernaturally wise and lethal. Those eyes! This is going to be fun. Great format and photos!

    • Yes, I wish I had the carefree fearlessness of the youth but anymore I realize life is so fragile. Also, manners matter. But glad you like the look of the site. i think it’s going to be better.

  2. Your anaconda reminds me of when I was 12, my brother left his 8’5″ boa in the care of our mother while he went off to Vietnam. It promptly got a mouth disease and we had to soak the snake in water, and swab its mouth with medicine. We held the mouth open with a pencil to be able to get the medicine in on a q-tip. Good times.

      • Yes! It went on to enjoy show and tell at a local elementary school.
        It died when my brother was still away, and we had to let him know when he came back on furlough. Same thing happened when his dog died of old age. On the following visit he came in the house and asked, “How’s Dad?”

  3. Oh, to be young and foolish again, wading in muddy water full of scary monsters. Great pictures as always. I would have loved to see those ants. Ants fascinate me, which is a good thing as they’re constantly taking up residence in my boat.

    At a glance, the new site design looks great. I’ll check things out and let you know if anything seems wonky. I’ll also subscribe to the newsletter.

    • Okay, manage to successfully subscribe. I originally tried with my cynical sailor email address and WP wouldn’t let me do that cause that’s not the email address associated with WP, so I did it again with my personal email address. So ignore the cynical sailor one in the system. I’ve had a poke around the site. The only suggestion I have is to possibly move the search widget from the banner to the sidebar. I wouldn’t naturally look for it up top, although that’s probably just me. See what other folks think about it.

      • Thanks for the detaiiled feedback! Mike will move the searchbar to the side. That does make more sense. We had to disassemble the blog a bit awhile back when hackers inserted code in our banner and caused anyone who searched for our site on Google to be redirected to an unsavory site. There’s an entire room in hell for those kinds of people.

  4. “Yours truly climbed onto a limb slightly above the creature to photograph its head, making sure there was always someone younger and more nubile and tender between my humble self and the reptile.”

    Ha ha! – Yes, you only need to be able to run faster than the slowest member of your group. Travel with old people. It’s safer 🙂

    Not sure I would have done this trip into the swamp. I could feel the bugs crawling on me as I read it. Good for you for getting out there.

    Mark and Cindy
    sv Cream Puff

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