Survivor: The Amazon


This blog entry about the events of Saturday, December 13, 2003 was originally posted on December 15, 2003.

DAY 56: I woke up around three in the morning to the sound of a distant static.  Gradually the white noise got closer and closer until it started pouring rain in camp.  The wind blew out all the mosquito candles, leaving base camp completely dark.  Perhaps it was best this way because it hid the fact that, when I woke up in the morning, I found a tarantula in my bed frame.

Juan and I were already out on the river by 6:30, a prime time for bird watching.  I saw parakeets, kingfishers, turkey vultures, hummingbirds, herons and other birds either too far or too fast for my camera.  After a while I gave up on trying to shoot wildlife — an task that require too much patience on my part — and just enjoyed the serenity of the beautiful Yanayacu (picture above) and its awe-inspiring trees that looked like works of art.  A lot of times the serenity was interrupted by the loud buzzing of huge walnut-sized bees that circled around the boat like Indy 500 race cars.

THE MONKEYS CAME BACK into camp when we arrived and I defended the fort while the crew radioed back to the boats to schedule my pick-up.  Once a transport had been arranged, Juan suggested that I perform the final test of jungle survival:  go out with the canoe without him. 

“[Good luck.  Be careful for anacondas,]” he said as he pushed me off the dock.  It sounded like famous last words to me.

I paddled around the river and the creek, looking for anything I hadn’t seen before.  I saw birds and some harmless spiders, but other than that the trip was pretty uneventful.  The excitement came when I got back to base camp and a monkey came towards me with a phillips head screwdriver — until he dropped it and looked confused.

THE BOAT TRANSPORT CAME, dropping off six new clients, one of which was the only gringo among them, an Aussie.  I told him what to expect and which bed had the tarantula in it, and he gave me the news that the U.S. Army had finally caught Saddam Hussein.

Juan and I took the mototaxi for the three hour trip back to Iquitos.  Once back on the Amazon River, we were clear of the jungle canopy and saw that it was a bright sunny day.  I reeked of the jungle; I hadn’t showered in five days, and I smelled of vinegar-flavored yogurt gone bad if you can imagine that.  If you want to get even more specific, add the smells of corn chips, rum, tea, coffee, Coke, bug spray, suntan lotion and salt to taste.  Add a little piss too because I got a little on my pants when I peed off the back of the speeding boat.  (When you gotta go, you gotta go.)

Needless to say, I needed a shower.

ONCE BACK IN IQUITOS Juan and I shared a mototaxi back to the office where I got my big bag back from Andres.  While there, a 45-year-old Californian guy named David was trying to get information, and I highly recommended the place to him.  He was glad to hear it from another tourist instead of a guide — my looks may have initially fooled him, but my accent instilled some trust.

“Buy you a beer?” he offered, which I of course accepted.  Don’t you just love it when you go into the jungle and come back to have a beer waiting for you?

Later that night, I met up with him at Fitzcarraldo, the famous bar of which the 1982 movie of the same name was filmed.  We sat over dinner and rounds of beer, talking about philosophies of travel and women.  It was great to hear an American accent again and he felt likewise. 

AT MY HOSTEL, I showered to get the stench off my skin, and then I showered again.  While I was settling in, a guy knocked on my door to tell me to report to the desk.  A mototaxi driver had followed me from the tour office and was trying to convince the desk attendant that he had recommended the hostel to me, trying to get a commission off of me.  I explained that I had walked to the hostel from the office and that I already knew the place from the week before.  He went away after we showed him my receipt.

I may have been back in the city, but it sure was a jungle out there.

Next entry: Amazon Dot Com

Previous entry: Slimy Yet Satisfying

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Comments for “Survivor: The Amazon”

  • that’s one violent place you got to erik. first you have a Guy With A Machete and now a Monkey With A Screwdriver. What’s next? Guy With Tarantula Stuck On Neck?

    great pics!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  03:36 AM

  • Heheh, that spider reminds me of the Cottonmouth snakes crawling over me while I slept in the forests of Lousiana. Let me tell you, I never knew I could be so STILL…

    Keep rockin’ in the free world, my man!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  04:42 AM

  • DAY 56?!?!?!?!?! Already? Where has the time gone. Oh good grief I have a lot to catch up on! Big thanks for sending that Evite reminder, I appreciate it. I’m in Belgium and will pick away at your old posts. Happy Holidays! And BTW, your homepage looks great. Congrats on all the namebuilding! grin

    Posted by Jen Leo  on  12/15  at  12:01 PM

  • erik - header still not working on blog home page and on the latest blog….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  01:01 PM

  • every pic of the amazon river seems so calm and serene. again, great pics…simply amazing.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  01:15 PM

  • wow, even in the amazon, you can get mugged with a deadly weapon. bad, monkey, bad.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  01:55 PM

  • i don’t know if i could handle waking up with a tarantula in my bed.  man.  did you scream like a girl?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  02:21 PM

  • you’ll be swinging from trees soon
    like Tarzan with his monkey
    Guess you don’t need those undies of yours either that way you won’t get piss on them

    Posted by Neven  on  12/15  at  03:30 PM

  • Reading your blogs is great -  I get to experience the Amazon without all the bugs, spiders, and snakes (yuck)!  Stay safe!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  03:58 PM

  • This is such a coincidence.  I just ordered a tarantula from this morning.

    Posted by matto  on  12/15  at  04:42 PM

  • JenLeo:  Yes, where has the time gone!  Montreal felt like 2 weeks; so far my trip feels like a year.  I must say that I can appreciate a daily blogger much more now that I am doing it…it IS a lot of work, and I totally know what you meant about getting in your “computer time” in Canada.  Anyway, keep warm in Belgium and perhaps we’ll cross paths again!

    Ria A:  Glad to see you’ve been posting…seriously, it means a lot…even if I can’t reply back to everyone.  I sort of wish more reader-only people would post too.

    (hint hint, nudge nudge, wink wink)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  09:52 PM

  • Cheryl:  I didn’t scream like a girl…I screamed like a really effeminate young man.

    Yvette:  Its not so bad, come on down…and bring PLENTY of citronella candles!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  09:55 PM

  • I’ve reached a conclusion…

    I would do the amazon trek, minus the larva lunch.

    captivating pics Erik!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/16  at  03:00 AM

  • Hey Erik,
    I may not post a reply everyday, but I defiantly look forward to reading your blog daily.  I can appreciate how much time it takes you to keep up with the blog and enjoy and soak in all your new adventures.  Your doing a great job.  We all Thank you for letting us share in your journey.  Keep up the good work!!!!!!  And great pics.  5 days without a bath huh, whoa!! I think I would have had you shower first,  then bought you a beer!!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/17  at  04:02 AM

  • finally starting to catch up Erik - the daily entries are dizzying?will try to comment more in the future.

    The amazon pics are amazing - you’re getting some great results with that itty bitty camera. I’ve been saving them all to my hard drive for future foto reference use.

    Did you wash your hands after going off the back of the boat?

    Posted by dunlavey  on  12/18  at  06:27 AM

  • Yeah, put me down for “would have screamed like a little girl”. YIKES! I don’t think there is enough citronella in the whole world to do the trick.

    The photos were awe-inspiring. I’m always telling people to recycle and save the planet… Your pics and trip have reminded me why. Places like the Amazon are worth preserving?even if we never get to see them with our own eyes. Thanks for letting us tag along on your journey. (I will now step off of my soap box.)

    Great job Fuzz-E!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/18  at  03:57 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Next entry:
Amazon Dot Com

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Slimy Yet Satisfying


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