After a deliciously simple meal of fresh-caught grilled fish, rice, and beans we found ourselves on edge with an increasing level of excitement.
We quickly prepared (with what we believed was) the necessary items for a nighttime hunting excursion and patiently waited for the signal. As a rule,
we heard Bata before we saw him. He let loose his arrival/departure call and waved towards the boat. We were going cayman hunting… Amazon style.
Our group waded through shallow water, crawled into the boat and situated ourselves in preparation. Bata’s son sat
up front and guided our boat through the flooded forest with a single flashlight while he steered from the rear.
While we had seen many animals so far (monkeys, sloths, tarantulas, river dolphins) I was secretly disappointed that we had not made
close contact. In my mind, we would be swimming alongside the pink dolphins and receiving gentle hugs from friendly sloths.
Apparently, living in the concrete jungle of Sao Paulo has provided me with a distorted sense of reality regarding the basic rules of nature.
The boat cautiously approached a temporary island in the rapidly receding flooded forest. We were silently directed to the middle of a clearing and instructed
to turn off all of our lights… and then Bata swam away. We were in the dark. Completely alone. In the middle of the rainforest. Basically, terrifying.
The cayman (jacaré in Portuguese) make a strange sound when they are firmly grasped by the throat. Regrettably, we were NOT made aware of this
little tidbit. SO… after what felt like ages, Bata returned unannounced in pitch-black accompanied by a deep croaking sound. Also, frightening.
I stood there holding my breath and cursing my inability to check a lunar calendar for the potential lack of moon. Finally, my instincts
led me to believe he was nearby, so I snapped a picture just as he was exiting the water. (*Note the cayman tooth on
Bata’s necklace. These guys are smallish, but larger versions certainly exist.)
FINALLY. Contact was made. Hugs ensued.
Meet: baby cayman & big brother cayman
Brett & Giselle show off their new buddy.
As it turns out, Lisa is not a fan of the following: Animals (both domestic & wild). Touching animals. Animals with teeth. When animal tails wrap around her arm.
Per usual, I told her I would take pictures until she smiled. We quickly got one out of her. Doesn’t she look thrilled?
Side by side.
A careful handoff.
AND just for good measure… a cayman on the head. Because that is normal.
This was absurd and I loved EVERY moment.
While I don’t have a picture that does our final ride justice, there was an approaching lightening storm that hung over the rainforest
just inland from us. As exhilarating as the night was, one of my overall trip highlights was reflecting on the boat that night headed back to camp.
In near silence and surrounded by blackness we watched repeated flashes of lightening illuminate the rainforest.
For lack of a better explanation, it was simply… enchanting.