Peru Part III: Getting wet

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.

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Large, unidentified moth.

 

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Unidentified insect.
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Beautiful hanging Heliconias, a regular in the tropical rainforest.
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Unidentified insect.
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The mammal team actually uses this log bridge on one of their transects.
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One of the captured white caiman (Caiman crocodillus).
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Brazil nuts provide a delicious snack on a long walk. The only animal capable of opening the tough shell is the brown agouti, a large rodent. It buries the found nuts for later consumption, but often forgets their location, thus helping with the spread of the Brazil nut tree.
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One of the streams near Walter’s house, a remote place within the Boca Pariamanu community, provides a good place for searching for herps (and posing for pictures).
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A swampy area near the habitable sector. I later found out a large anaconda lives here.
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An olive tree runner (Plica umbra).
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A view of the misty forest around Boca Pariamanu.
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A nest of sweat bees. These little buggers won’t sting you, but they will crawl on you to try and get some of that delicious sweat. When you squash one of them, they release a disgusting smell which attracts even more bees.
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The Amazon green anole (Anolis punctatus).
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The Amazon horned frog (Ceratophrys cornuta) is a remarkable animal. It ambushes a prey by silently waiting in a dug out hole in the forest floor and can swallow animals almost as big as itself. Every frog as a uniquely different pattern and can stay in one place for weeks. They are very popular pets and have been dubbed ‘Pac-man frog’ due to its large mouth.
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Some local people believe that its cousin, the Colombian horned frog, is venomous and when it bites you, won’t let go until the sun sets. I, on the contrary, have mostly found this frog to be a general sweetheart and a terrific model.
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The wonderful Neotropical marbled tree frog (Hyla marmorata).
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The parrot snake (Leptophis ahaetulla) is as cute and harmless as a snake can be. It pretends to be ready to strike at any moment, but will never actually harm you, even if you try.
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