Heart of the Amazon Rainforest

Fall 2013

Yellow-rumped caciques are colony-nesting birds, upwards of thirty nests can be in one tree. I went to Peru expecting to be planted deep in the Amazon nestled cozily near the raucous, party animal caciques. Instead, we settled into the noisy, chaotic city of Iquitos, which is only accessible via air or river. To begin, we started on an established colony at the Quistococha zoo, a bumpy twenty-minute motorcar ride out of town.

Moments in a motocar: “The sound of motorbike engines permeated the air.  Small pieces of gravel propelled itself into my squinted eyes as I sat in the cab of the motorcar, a tricycle motorcycle with a carriage on the back to transport folks around. The streets of Iquitos, Peru are a real version of Mario Kart, minus the slinging of banana peels and turtle shells.  Motocars swerve recklessly between lanes and occasionally off road. As our hiply dressed Peruvian driver signals left, his long pinkie nail dominates my vision.  Cocaine. A prominent drug in a town snuggled next to the Amazon and a skip away from Columbia.” Eventually, we moved to Reserva Nacional Allpahuayo-Mishana, where I indeed was nestled in the heart of the rainforest.

Eventually, we moved to Reserva Nacional Allpahuayo-Mishana, where I indeed was nestled in the heart of the rainforest. A typical day: Unfurl the nets, hopefully catch a few caciques, curse under breath as the bird projectile excavated bowels while carefully banding & extracting blood, release the irate bird, practice yoga until the next net check, get attacked by an unknown insect, rinse and repeat the next day. The jungle will fill your heart with tangles of beauty, and then rip your being into a hollow shell.  Musings from those times: “I’ve purged my insides clean over the past many days. My body wanted to align with the misery of my heart.

Musings from those times: “I’ve purged my insides clean over the past many days. My body wanted to align with the misery of my heart.  Have I gone too far with the utter zugunruhe (a Greek word that describes the anxiety birds feel before migration) that encompass me?

The same path that has given me freedom has led me to restlessness.

Yellow-rumed Cacique in the Amazon of Peru
Yellow-rumped Cacique contemplating what odd noise to make next.
Alicia Arcidiacono in the amazon rainforest of Peru
A rare species of Amazonian woman can sometimes be found deep in the rainforest, often encountered near swarms of biting insects and loud birds.
Vultures in Belen Marketplace
Sky scavengers have a street feast after the Belén, a local marketplace full of fruits, tobacco, fish, and seated next to the Amazon River.
Blue-and-gold Macaw in the Amazon
Blue-and-gold Macaw regally posing for his headshot.
Fledgling flycatcher in Amazon of Peru
Fledgling flycatcher taking a break from begging for food.

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