Last three weeks in Boca Pariamanu
Finally, the wet season starts to be noticed. The occasional downpours become more and more frequent. I get myself caught out in the rain quite often, and in the rain forest, even the most advanced piece of clothing won’t keep you dry. Gore-Tex or not, you might as well give up: you’re gonna get soaked.
As Mark leaves for a bit on a short well-deserved vacation, I am to keep myself busy with other activities. Since the caiman team has just started up to begin researching the crocodilian population around Boca, I spend a lot of time capturing their search for the prehistoric looking creatures. Taking photographs for Fauna’s Facebook page is another one of my concerns. After Mark comes back for a short while, he leaves his equipment with me to continue light box work on any new species I find. Night walks for capturing species, morning shoots and releasing now comes down to me and Allie, Mark’s other intern. And I have to say: we do a pretty good job. Among the new species we light box are the mottled clown treefrog (Hyla sarayucensis), the Amazon horned frog (Ceratophrys cornuta) and even the spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodillus, although some help was required for this guy). I do a lot of shooting for myself as well, now being fully comfortable in the jungle environment. I stop wearing bug spray, I stop caring about getting my socks and pants wet, and I couldn’t care less about pulling some worms out of my foot. We’re all connecting more with the community, playing volleyball almost every day and an occasional game of soccer (only when it’s chilly enough to not sweat profusely). For me, this makes the prospect of leaving this place harder and harder to cope with.
On one of my last days in Boca, I’m going out again with Mark to release some reptiles and amphibians we captured the night before. Even though it’s pouring down, I’m optimistic and bring a tripod and my camera in case it stops raining. Unfortunately it doesn’t, and we’re forced to release the animals without getting any pictures. As we’re walking back to camp, an incredibly bright flash of blue light illuminates the dark sky. Without any delay, a violent explosion of sound, the loudest noise I’ve ever heard, comes crashing through the raindrops. We dive to the ground and I drop the metal tripod. We crouch on the floor, with our rubber boots hopefully insulating the potential path of lightning through us. As the thunder fades away, we stand up and race back to the town. Though we laugh about our experience, we’re shaken out of our wits and smell a strong scent of burnt earth. Mark later describes it as ‘Gandalf the White coming down from the sky’. We’re very lucky that the lightning didn’t hit us, but missed us by around 10 meters.
After surviving a bullet ant infestation, seeing (and smelling) a huge pack of white-lipped peccaries and having a tarantula walk on my face, I’ve grown quite attached to the place. On November 21th, I have to leave at last. I’m going back to LPAC to participate in the Forest Ranger Program with ARCAmazon. But not before saying goodbye to everyone and taking a small party with me to Puerto. Little did I know I would be back sooner than I expected.