Up bright and early at 6 to photograph the sunrise and then
a sit down for breakfast. One of the local Indians came
around to visit us in his canoe and showed us his catch
of Pimelodus fasciatum and a woodcat species; the
cameras were out in force.
elegans collecting site.
This was the most superb day of all as I caught my first
Corydoras. We crossed the short creek from the boat
at the Madre Reserve, walked about 450 yards across a timber
bridge and down to the Tunche Cano stream were we caught
Corydoras elegans by the score and the adrenaline
is really running high now. Jools and I were really up for
it and we couldn't stop talking and laughing at the same
time as we scooped up Cory after Cory with sometimes three
or four in our catch nets. The substrate here was rusty
red clay covered with a leaf litter over a closed canopy
as can be seen in the accompanying photograph.
All good things have to come
to an end but things were to get even better in the afternoon.
We traveled about a ½ mile back down the Rio Orosa
to a small flooded cocha at Eloise's house, a local Indian
woman who's husband had died a few years earlier and had
lived alone ever since with her dog and chickens for company.
The rest of the group crossed the
cocha, which was waist deep to net near the house. I decided
to head in the opposite direction from the house at the
head of the small lake as I had quickly learned that when
there is a lot of netting activity going on, the water gets
quite turbid and lessons the chance of catching fish.
author catching Corydoras elegans
The first few sweeps
brought up young Amblydoras hancocki (talking catfish).
They must have been spawning here as they were really tiny,
I kept a few but there was far too many and released quite
a few of them back to their home. There was also Cichlids
here of the Aquidens genus. I then started to catch
Brochis splendens, which were a stunning green colouration,
which heralded the arrival of the rest of the party. I must
have caught about 30 splendens all about young adult
size, a good day by anyone's standards. We went back to
the boat happy and I was ready for our evening meal.
We relaxed at night
playing cards with Steve and the two American boys, Stuart
and Corrie. We had a few beers of course but retired early
at 11pm for a good nights sleep (in spite of the generator).
Slept well and woke about 6am and wondered up to the main
deck. A couple of local families had caught a few whiptail
cats under the Madre Serva Reserve Station and I went down
to the lower deck to barter with them. I swapped a t-shirt
and 2 batteries (for their torches) to each family for their
catches, one of the tops being my much coveted Heart of
Midlothian football top, so the Hearts now have a supporter
in the Peruvian jungle! One of the fish traded was a rather
large Sturisoma species and the rest were common
whiptails, which are now safely tucked up in a tank in my
with his dead Pleco!
After breakfast we sailed
back up the river to a village where the locals were expecting
us. This was a part of the trip that I was looking forward
to as we met the local village folk and traded our t-shirts
and batteries for the locally made souvenirs such as dried
seeds and an enormous pair of Dorid pectoral bones, which
must have made this fish about a foot long! I also snapped
up a set of panpipes, which were made to order on the day!
which I still can't play properly. We then set sail back
down the river for about 2 hours to the next reserve, the
Paucarillo Forest Preserve.
We docked here and went quite a trek through the jungle
to a small stream where we found Apistogramma agassizi
in abundance, youngsters and large adults in their colourful
livery. In the evening we stopped of at a large village/town
as the crew of the boat wanted to see the World Cup qualifier
between Peru and Colombia. Jools, Stu and I joined the crew
to watch the match in the local school hall on satellite
TV. with one of the local youngsters of the village stationed
beside the screen to swipe away the flies of the screen!
We stayed for about half an hour with most of the village
crowded around us and it came to a head when Jools suddenly
shot out of his seat and explained in a pained expression
that he had to go a place, he was certainly a funny colour
and I don't think I have ever seen him move so fast, all
the way back to the boat in Olympic time! Inca's revenge
strikes. Stu and I headed back, had a beer and retired for
It was my turn for the Inca's revenge this morning as I
had terrible stomach cramps and the rest of the day was
lost and just a blur as I slept off and on. I missed the
night trip when a few of the lads went collecting in the
skiff with their torches. I would have liked that but I
just crashed out again at 8.30 to bed.
Felt a bit better today but tired. I didn't eat anything,
just drank, not beer, but tea and plenty of it. I spent
most of the day changing water in the basins, which were
supplied to us for that purpose, but I had lost a few fish
due to not being able to change the water the previous day.
We also relaxed on deck as the Amazon Explorer made its
way back up the Amazon River to the Port of Iquitos. We
arrived late afternoon and disembarked where we were driven
back to our hotel, the Amazon Gardens. The first thing I
done was to dangle my feet in the hotel pool, fantastic!
Jools, Clare and I said our goodbyes to our fellow passengers
who were either staying over for another week or leaving
the following day (Saturday). We flew out of Iquitos on
the 8.10pm flight to the capital city of Lima and were met
there at the airport by the representative of the Manhattan
Hotel. He drove us over to the hotel and if any of you have
ever been in Lima traffic it was a very scary experience!
It was a first class hotel where we had a couple of drinks
at the bar where the barman spent his time practicing his
English on us, (in a Scottish accent) a lot better than
my Spanish. The three of us then retired for the night to
our nice comfortable beds.
Woke up the unearthly time of 4am and decided to have a
long hot shower, it was bliss! Breakfast at 5.30 and then
of to the Airport for the early morning return flight to
Atlanta. After we arrived in Atlanta we just made the 6.30pm
flight to Gatwick, London as we had declared our fish boxes
at U.S.Customs and he checked most of the fish bags. He
was only concerned that we hadn't any Piranhas or electric
eels. It was a long flight made only bearable by the good
movies on board. Arrived Gatwick at 7.30am London time and
I had to sit around for the 12.15 connections to Glasgow.
We just drank tea and coke and we all felt like s**t. I
said my goodbyes to Jools and Clare (who had fallen asleep)
who were waiting for a later flight to Edinburgh.
I arrived back in Glasgow and was
picked up by another CSG member, Mark Bryson, who dutifully
dropped me of from where I had started 12 days earlier at
the ferry for the Clyde crossing. Arrived home at 4.00pm
shattered and still not feeling too well. It must have been
at least two weeks before I was back to normal but I must
admit that I would do it all over again with a bit of luck
in the not too distant future.
My thanks go out to my travelling
companions Jools, Clare, Steve, Alan, Chris, Robin, Giles
and Terry for making this trip such an enjoyable experience
and of course Drs. David Schleser and Devon Graham for their
invaluable help and patience and I hope that I haven't bored
you too much with my meanderings.
All pictures © Julian