Thursday, August 7, 2003
14:19 - The chestnut-fronted macaws, yellow-headed parrots, and dusky-headed parakeets have found a new place to take minerals and salt from. It's just downstream a bit from the usual location (the one that the salt lick trip takes you to), so we drifted back a bit and were able to get fairly close to them as they sat in the lower trees. Normally, they are so high that even with binoculars it is hard to see their bright colors.
The morning hike's subject was Achuar medicinal plants. We saw a "Dragon's Blood" tree, which bleeds sap that looks like human blood (when cut with a knife). The bloody sap is used on open wounds as a healing agent, both in forest communities and in Ecuadorian cities. We also saw and smelled wild garlic, and a tree that smells like cloves (and tastes minty). During the middle of the hike, Lorena noticed that a 6" stick bug was clinging to Dad's hat. (Why he didn't notice it first a good question, since it was literally hanging down in front of his face!) Upon closer inspection we discovered that it was a pair of stick bugs, mating.
Evening - Dinner was a "traditional" Achuar meal, which included chicha ("pero, no es la chicha verdad," said Yawá. it was prepared in a way that most Westerners would not object to), a very nice chicken soup with plantains, mañok (not sure how to spell that), watermelon, and fish wrapped in palm leaf. The food was very good. We took a group photo, and then a few of us (Wendy, me, Jeff, and Sue) went out on a night hike with Jenny and Yawa, where we were treated to lots of really neat insects. Wendy found an 8" snail that weighed over a pound! There were also many, many crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, harvestmen, and a salamander and a bird. We saw a smiley-face spider (whatever it is called); it has a smiley face on its back!