The Trick

Another story from December. Enjoy!

As my previous blog shows, I took many pictures of the setting sun.  In many cases the rising sun was just as stunning. I was just too sleepy to take pictures.  I’m generally not a morning person….

The few pictures I took of the sun rising

One  morning after watching the sunset with the two fishermen (still early in our expedition), we walked to the next lake.  I wasn't used to the hours and the work and drowsily walked with the fishermen.  We walked in single file along a path leading from the community to the lake.  

Me walking slowly and taking pictures from behind the group

After about 15 minutes on the trail, I saw one fisherman pointing up and saying something.  I looked up and tried to spot what he was pointing too, but I couldn't see it.  He kept pointing up and even though I didn’t understand what he was saying I scanned the skies for what he was trying to show me.  He then pointed down, and there lay a 2 m (~6 ft) freshwater crocodile.  My heart skipped a beat and I rushed away from it (I'm glad I was too tired to yelp).  The fishermen all began to laugh and I realized the large gash on the crocodile's head... it was dead.  It had probably snuck up on a villager with a machete the night before.  As I rushed away pale-faced, a fisherman stopped me and told me to take a picture.  

Dead freshwater crocodile that almost gave me a heart attack

When it came up later (and it only came up a FEW times), I told them that the joke almost gave me a heart condition- which they thought was funny.  The jokes continued until the end of our trip.  My shoes were even nicknamed mouths of a crocodile as all the hiking caused the sole to peal from the rest of the shoe (to open like a mouth).  And as we hiked, grass would collect in the "mouth" and my crocodile ate; when we walked through water, it drank.  

To close their "mouths", I had to stich my shoes

All things considered, it was pretty funny...

The sun set… (back in Dec)

Although I’m already back in Brazil (!), this story is from my expedition last December:

As the sun set, we were still making our way back to the boat after our first day of work.  Our group included seven fishermen, Fabio -the coordinator of the arapaima surveys, and me (the “gringo”).  As we walked through dense fields of grass taller than me, the swaying blades in the setting sun made me dizzy and faint.  We had only worked since lunchtime, but I was tired, hungry, and thirsty.  To make things worse, all the lakes we went to had little or no arapaima and I didn’t see any surface. 

Getting to the lake

Less than twelve hours later, we were back on the same trail before the sun rose.  I was exhausted and closed my eyes between steps to rest.   The trail was uneven- full of cow prints in mud hardened by the dry season.  After hiking we traveled by boat and then again by foot.  Our entire trip to the lake took more than four hours. 

Cow prints made the trail uneven

We surveyed the lake and, unlike the day before, saw many arapaima.  It turned out this lake was managed by the local community (three fishermen from that community were part of our team).  After we finished the survey, we returned the way we came.   We got back after 3pm- our trip to survey one lake took more than 10 hours.  It was at least a boost in moral to see the arapaima in the lake.

We were supposed to survey some more in the afternoon but because of some delays (i.e. the lakes we wanted to go to had no arapaima) we had a relaxed afternoon on the boat.  As the sun set that evening, the guys turned on the TV to watch a soap opera- it was hooked up to a satellite that required patience and repeated adjustment as the anchored boat rocked and swayed in the water.  I instead decided to sit on the roof of the boat and watch the sun set over the river.  It really never did get old.  As I sat, Lipe climbed up with a mischievous smile.  He’s always up to something so I asked him what he was doing.  He said he was just joining me.  So we talked- I don’t know if he understood me and he generally talked to fast for me to understand…  Another fisherman joined us and we chatted a bit more until the mosquitoes drove us under.  The sun never sets the same…