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June 17, 2003

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Overnight we entered the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Even if our guide hadn't told us, the change was self evident. Before reaching the Reserve we saw that the trees had been thinned until only secondary forest stood along the riverbanks. In the Reserve, primary forest hugs the waterway, for the most part untouched by loggers. At the ranger station we met a family manning the post. Each month, a new local family volunteers for this task. It's a tough job to stand guard over 5 million acres. Poachers raid the area for timber, fell giant trees, lash it all together into a raft, and float downriver.
Fish fill the Amazon; it's a famous area to angle for peacock bass, dorado catfish, piranha, or cucha, a strange walking catfish - over 250 species of fish swim these waters. We fished and fished and fished, I caught one little catfish. Maybe I should use local methods - gill nets, harpoons, or the poison sap from hanging vines (the natives cut the vines up, drop them in the water, and wait for the hapless, stunned fish to float to the surface).
Sloths doing what sloths do: nothing but eat, sleep, and get drunk off the intoxicating leaves of Cecropia. These animals haven't learned how to defecate from the tree, so once in awhile they climb down to the forest floor to relieve themselves. That's when the jaguars catch them.
Amazon tree boa and a little tree frog. Don't fall asleep around the tree boa and don't lick the frog.