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June 18, 2003

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Today we moved deeper and deeper in the Pacaya Samiria Reserve, locally called the "mirrored forest." Water levels stand high at this time of year, overflowing the riverbanks and flooding 10 or 20 meters into the jungle. Water reflects the forest canopy. The jungle holds over 130 mammal species, 150 reptile species, and 500 bird species. Flora is equally diverse, including 22 species of orchids. The pink and grey dolphins are a common sight and one of our favorite. The most interactive wildlife are the bugs. The jungle walks turn into bug carnivals, with mosquito swarms using our bodies as walking buffets. Wasps and hornets sting us if we happen to walk near their nests. I received over ten stings from some paper wasps just for standing within ten feet of their home. And these are the nice wasps! Luckily, we didn't see any killer bees...
Piranha fishing with rancid beef for bait on the end of a stick and string.
Local people keep local pets. From left, a diminutive Saki monkey, a kinkajou, and a parrot.
Swimming the Amazon I'm not worried about caimans (crocodiles), although our guide seemed a little nervous and turned me away from the riverbank. The little things in the Amazon are more dangerous, such as parasites or the tiny fish that reportedly swim into any bodily orifice and then get stuck because of their barbed fins. No skinny dipping! All this effort to swim with dolphins who ignored me. Apparently, the dolphins are only interested in swimming with small children.
At night we went caiman catching and grabbed this one year old white caiman (we released him unharmed). In a few more years he'll be too big to cuddle. Black caimans reportedly grow over 15 feet long.