Today we did something that was a lot of fun. We took a ride to one of the many jungle preserves (here, anyone with a few acres can immediately open an eco-tourism jungle preserve). The purpose was to climb a tree and zip through the canopy like wild monkeys.
We started with a walk through the jungle, where we saw the rubber tree and other botanical wonders. We also saw vines, which according to legend are the hammocks of the benevolent spirit of the jungle. Whenever you see vines you know that the protector is nearby and that the jungle is healthy.
After about half an hour we arrived to our tree, a giant that rose 50 m up in the air. The platform we were going to climb to was perched at 35 m (about 100 ft), and from it hung several stout climbing ropes. We were going to go up using jumars, a gadget that slides up the rope but not down. There were three women, including Annie, and myself. The guide explained how to climb, using the force of your legs and not your arms. The girls took to the jumars like fish to water, while I, alas, was only able to climb a few feet before being totally exhausted. My arms felt numb, and I could barely hold on. The guys helping us were wonderful, and in no time hooked me to a winch, with which they hoisted me up to the top. I was feeling a bit ashamed when compared to the great performance of the girls, but you do what you have to do.
Once we were all reunited on top we spent a good time looking around, trying to eye a sloth or a monkey, but all to no avail. With all the noise we had made all fauna was probably several miles away.
Next step was to take the zip line to the next tree. It looked like you had to jump into the abyss, and as soon as Annie saw that she declared that she was happy where she was and had no intention of splatting herself onto the jungle floor. I figured that this was going to be my only chance of trying something crazy like a zip line, so mustering all my courage took a leap of faith and . . . enjoyed myself very much. Still, our helper had to pry my fingers open once I got to the platform.
The next zip line was not as dramatic, but was fairly long (110 m), and it was here that I learned to enjoy myself. Still, you are way up there and it is not easy to let go an “fly like a bird”. For the grand finale we rappelled down the tree, and made it back to the original tree to see Annie finishing her own rappel. We had all done something unique for each of us, and left the jungle with big grins pasted all over our faces.
Back at the hotel we made arrangements for a two day trek into the jungle, tomorrow and the day after, and are still agonizing on whether we want to take the fast (30 hour ride departing on Friday) or slow boat (three days and two nights departing Saturday). Our guides for the next two days have promised they will take us to Tabatinga as soon as we get back, so we can buy our tickets.
Dinner was, as promised to Annie, pizza. We enjoyed it very much and Annie ate two and a half slices, which is a lot more than she has eaten to date. We are all happy.