Our guide Iracildo Fonseca, nicknamed Bata, wears the tooth of a jacaré (cayman) that he killed around his neck.
Now 51 years old, he has 14 children (ranging from one year to thirty years old) and twenty-two grandchildren.
From the young age of twelve until he was twenty years old he spent six days a week in the rainforest completely alone
gathering natural resources to support his mother and three siblings. Relying on this land for shelter
and nutrition made him an expert of the lush environment that he now calls his backyard.
For someone who spent eight years in near isolation, the man has quite the sense of humor,
light-heartedly teasing both guests and his family. For instance, pretending to be attacked by a tarantula.
Regardless of what you may think, if someone wildly flails their body in an attempt to escape an attack in the
rainforest (however unreal it may be) your heart WILL skip a beat. He definitely kept us on our toes…
We regularly paused during our hike to hear how naturally occurring elements in the forest can be used for medicinal purposes.
In his village, the above paste is rubbed on the forehead and temples to ease headache pain. The milky sap aids in calming upset stomachs.
Although they don’t do our experience justice, these were some of my favorite photos to look
back through because of the earthy color palate and extensive variety of textures.
While hiking, we crossed paths with a single man cutting wood to build his new home.
The native indians are the only people that have permission to harvest natural resources in the FLONA.
Bata routinely recognized remote clues that would have gone undetected by us. He carefully
explained a mess of leaves that had recently served as bedding for a large animal, a slim absence of debris that
signaled a snake had passed by, or even the pause in monkey chatter letting us know they were right overhead.
See below for a picture of the hummingbird nest that he discovered hidden behind a low-lying leaf.
A spider web massive enough to entangle a human.
The profile of a mother elephant shaped in the immense Sumauma roots.
The gradual climb to the Sumauma was not replicated on the way back… the hike picked up pace and our descent felt like a landslide at times.
The ants below have climbed the tree and are in the process of consuming bee larva. After observing for a moment,
Bata tapped the hive with a stick and the bees inside could be heard humming loudly in unison.
We saw at least ten different types of ants during the hike, all with notable characteristics. For instance,
one left behind an intense burning sensation that would spread throughout your limbs for two full days after the initial bite.
Bata explains that he has escaped death during attacks of cayman, snakes and jaguars. In the same breath,
he displays cayman bites that punctured both forearms and then says he isn’t afraid of anything.
He quickly corrects himself, “anything except poisonous snakes… just a little bit though,” he says with a smile.
He still swims with the caymans and pythons at night, but now takes precautions and has
made technical adjustments to his manner of capturing them. To this day he remains inseparable from nature.
Entrance to the primary protected rainforest Floresta Nacional (FLONA) do Tapajós
will set you back R$3 per day and can be paid at the reserve entrance.
Guides are mandatory within the park. More information can be found at ICMBIO website.