Advance: Most of my stories or books have been mixed with characters and sunken into the imaginary (non-fiction that is into historical fiction). This one hasn’t. This writer has attempted to write absolutely a true story to see if it can match, or present, or compete with the work of the imagination.
We were standing 119-feet high up on a canopy that scientist had built of rope and boards, tied to towering jungle trees, and then I heard my guide below, talking to two visitors. It was too far away, I could not tell what was being said. Then the talking stopped, and I told my wife Rosa, ‘I hope he doesn’t’ leave without us, it gets dark here early…’ The canopy moved, swayed a bit to the right and left as we scaled its thin walkway here and there, up and down, it was at this time the longest one built in the world. I then motioned down to our guide, who had lived in this part of the jungle all his life, so he told us, and so it seemed. He was perhaps in his early forties, I, perhaps was ten years older than he. He was build broad, robust, and a likeable kind of fella; assured, or self-confident in himself, and his knowledge of the jungle.
“Anytime!” he said, Avelino yelled up to us, he meant that it was up to me when we went back to our lodge in the thick of the Amazon jungle. It was to be an hour and a half walk back, the same it took to get there. And I knew a good portion of that walk would most likely end up being at dusk, or in the twilight of the evening. And much more, should we not get moving. I liked Avelino; he had spent forty-years and then some, in this part of the Amazon, about 125-miles from Iquitos, Peru. I got only an hour or so to spend in Iquitos, not much time, i hoped to get more on the way ack; stopped in an old bar, from the days of the booming rubber plantations, when money was plentiful, and had a coke, talked to the barkeeper. Then we visited the Iron House, architecture by Mr. Eiffel himself, who created on paper the famous Eiffel Tower, in Paris, for he Worlds Fair, back in the 1880s.
“Wait a minute,” I told Rosa, I wanted to make sure I walked the whole canopy (she smiled, as usual, and followed me); every inch of it, ever corner and by every tree that it was tied to, I walked to it, by it, around it, not sure why, perhaps to say I did it, like a mountain climber: I wanted to say, I climbed to the top; and now we had to go down–and so I rushed that process up (but without a doubt, I had climbed to the top of the Jungle, looked over its roof, and say its sea of green, which was more like a dream).
It was now conceivably, an hour or so, before that last of light would be put out, when it would shrink into twilight, and then dusk: our light would be gone. Frankly I made a last look over the top of the jungle: Avelino, simply waited down in the opening of the area below, and Rosa and I now were headed toward the rope ladder that lead down to the first platform, there were three platforms we had to descend to.
On the first platform, we stopped a bit to get our balance, and breath, or I did anyways, Rosa really didn’t need to, she seems to adjust in the jungle as well as she does in the high mountains of the Andes, quite well, in comparison to me. We had gone up once, or I suppose you could say several times, to heights in them mountains to exceed 16,000-feet, and she never groaned a bit, as thin as the air gets, she was like she was at sea level, while I’m gasping for air, and trying to rid myself of the headache coming.
“Lets go,” Is aid to Rosa, meaning to the second level, yet I wanted to make sure she knew I was about to descend, and that was the best way to inform her, so neither of us, got in the others way as we climbed down.
“Yes,” she agreed, in her broken English, a native to the Spanish language, and about three years into speaking English as a second language. “It’s going to get dark soon,” she added.
“Yaw, I hope he knows the way back in the dark, but he does have that flashlight.” I said.
“I’m glad you pushed the fact we should take the flashlight along, he really didn’t want to, said he didn’t need it, but it makes me feel safer, even if he doesn’t need it. But I think he’ll need it.” Rosa said, and I just glanced up, as I put my foot down into the next loop of the rope, as if to say: ‘let’s see if he does or don’t, I bet he will.’ (But of course I didn’t say that, I thought that, lest he hear me, and I disrespect his knowledge he so aspires to have of the jungle.) The last several steps were wooded ones, and then the end platform, and out into the open area.
As I caught my breath (for the second time) I waited for Rosa to adjust herself, Avelino, approached us, the flashlight in his back pants pocket. I took a last look at the trees holding the canopy up, the ropes tightly wrapped around them: the ladder that went up, as well as down–and saw the path ahead of us, the same one we had come through, that would lead us back out into the deep of the jungle–it was dark in there, already; the rays of the sun were not piercing the openings of the foliage as it was doing a few hours ago.
There had been rain a few days ago, but not enough to make the ground soggy, or difficult to walk on or through, yet it was not completely dry either, and it would make for a slower walk than what harder gravel would allow. I kind of was thinking of trying to walk at a faster pace back, and Avelino was thinking the same, and it would turn out we were thinking alike, and Rosa with her little legs, and me with my warn out lungs, ended up far behind him, with that flash light still in the back of his pants pocks. As we walked through the jungle, there was no way to keep up with him, he was like a wild cat, and perhaps, perchance showing off a ting. But he slowed down then, allowed us to catch up, and I gave him a smile attached to a smirk.
There were opening in the jungle where you could get a good look at the sky, but it was a quick look if you were walking at a pace Avelino was leading. A wild cat, black had run by, in the distance, I called to Avelino, and point it out, “Just a cat, in its natural habitat, no more, dhats all…” he said as if it was an ant trying to get back to his ant hole. Matter of fact, it was a while back when I saw those ant hills, and they were two feet high, and four feet around, and a stream of ants were going to and fro, and I was going to kick it for the hell of it, to wake them up, and I got the smirk I gave him today, back then. Not sure what would have happened, but I suppose, if they were hungry I’d not be alive to write this story.
The cat was gone, now, perhaps it was 300-feet from us, too far to get a perfect picture of it with my old and aging eyes, but I suppose I needed had gotten a better glance, it was good enough, so I told myself.
There were a lot of dry leaves, and roots extending out of the ground, not as bad as when I was in the Gran Sabana, a year earlier: ‘Thank God for little favors,’ I told myself… those roots killed me, kind of. Broke some toenails, and a friend of mine, a little older than I, fell and broke his nose, and a few others got cuts, and so forth and so on, it was a three hour hike in the jungle, always going upward, upward, until you were 200-feet on a ledge looking over at Angel Falls, 1500-feet high, and 1500-feet below you, and the water of the falls, slapping you in the face, It was the place Rosa wanted to go to for our Honeymoon.
The roots, the wild cat, the ants, the canopy was not much compared to some of the things we had to put up with else where. I shouldn’t say, put up with, it was all an adventure, one we begged for I suppose, and got. As I then looked up into the sky, I though I figured it would be dusk soon, and I was already getting tired, and we were perhaps one forth of the ways into the jungle. Avelino had one speed it seemed, high gear, the only way for him to slow down was to stop. To be quite honest, I think he wanted to make it back to the lodge before he’d have to show us he needed the flashlight.
Many things seemed to move in the threes, in the plant life, undergrowth in the distance, nearby; sounds everywhere, movements, a few eyes I saw, they didn’t look dangerous, up in the tree-branches so I just kept moving.
The Jungle Path
So now going along the green path in the rainforest, I started to notice large toads, and a frog, small one, with a glowing yellowish shade on its back, I was told to leave them be, they were poisonous. You get, or I got anyways, the profoundest urge to grab that cute little frog and give him a life; but I dared not, and Rosa informed me of its deadliness, and of course we both knew of this already: my little angel. Again we say what Rosa called the big lazy birds on branches, a few more eyes here and there, and we all were getting hungry, and we knew the cook at the lodge was cooking Rosa’s and my piranhas we caught yesterday. I was determined to eat them, not sure why, I suppose because they like eating human flesh, but then they like really eating anything that is meat. I had used a pound of steak meat to catch three little big mouth piranhas. We caught them in the dark-waters, in a tributary that connected into the Amazon River (the trees give off this chemical that makes the water darken, and the piranhas seem to like this sort of water, akin to vampire fish). Around our lodge there were many tributaries and streams, and ponds, enmeshed into this basin area that was a little distance from the main Amazon River.
Rosa had brought some water along, she had insisted somewhat, I was thinking I would not need it, but a fresh drink of water was just what was needed, and I drank my share in on setting I do believe. The coolness was invigorating, and I needed to rest, and our guide was getting farther in the distance and we called out to him, and the night was creeping in, smelling the good smells for the Amazon. I was very happy, I had thought about going into the Amazon for ten-years, ten long years; and here I was. People had told me: how can you afford it. I told them, stop drinking or smoking, and put our money together, and don’t buy that new car for another year or so. It was easy to save when you rally want to save. It was like going on a diet.
We had now come to a village…
To be continued
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