“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Day 9 - 12 hours in a boat!!!!!

Another 5am start to maximise our time on the river in search of Jaguar - can't say I'm getting used to it at all, but it's certainly interesting to see how little sleep I can survive on when I really need to. I am however getting used to drinking Brazilian coffee in the mornings - it's incredibly strong, very bitter and comes in tiny shots, but by having it in a larger cup filled with hot sweetened milk it's actually quite bearable. Not yet missing my earl grey as haven't touched the emergency supply I brought with me.

The boat started out with the sun cover down and the wind in our hair which was absolute magic, but by 8am we were begging JD to put the cover up. However, as soon as we stopped to shoot a cat, the rules of the river dictate covers come down to ensure everyone gets a reasonable view, so within minutes of arriving at a Jaguar sighting, we were all drenched in sweat again. By lunchtime the temperature had reached 42 degrees and in full sun with extremely high humidity we became a floating sauna. Thankfully, we were rewarded for our suffering every 30 minutes or so when the Jaguar also decided he was too hot and came out of the bushes, down the bank and into the river for a quick swim and a drink - awesome - the size and power of these beautiful cats is immense. Lunch was a simple affair, rice and catfish, washed down with yet more water whilst remaining on the boat of course. After lunch, for a good hour, the Jaguar had not moved much other than the odd flick of a tail or turn of the head. The cooler was emptying fast, rounds of water being called for every few minutes. We were filling our hats with the melted ice water which pretty much evaporated as soon as it was placed back on our heads. Never known heat like it. In light of my history of feinting in strong heat, I was getting concerned and struggling to breathe properly. We had been stationary, in full direct sun for a good few hours before we decided it was best to move ourselves.
This prompted a high-speed trip downstream for another "bio break" - quite unnerving waiting for David and Ricardo to check the chosen riverbank for any signs of Jaguar before disembarking for the fastest pee on record. We got off the boat and stepped over Jaguar prints to get to the nearest cover (of which there wasn't much - but to be honest we didn't really care) Kim had remembered to bring her she-wee so would be first back to the boat if sprinting were needed. This meant I only really had to be quicker than Leanne who was, like me, going for the traditional squat, in tick-infested grasses! Strangely though there is something quite liberating about peeing in broad daylight, on open ground, facing a massive river, whilst keenly looking out for cats that have been recorded at over 170kgs!

By 4pm the water situation had become a concern for Leanne, so Ricardo obtained 4 more bottles from a passing tourist boat giving us at least another hour on the water.
Thankfully we had all remembered to grab beers from the fridges in our rooms when leaving and so we were able to enjoy a cold one as the sun set during our high speed journey back to the hotel. There's nothing else on earth better - and the moment will forever bring a smile to my face. Who needs more than one wild large male Jaguar happily cooling off in front of you in a day.

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