As we made our way back to the lodge, we encountered the Giant Otters again hunting and feeding. They simply fear nothing below the water. Even a solo Caiman is no match for a gang and apparently make good eating. Leather bag, belt and shoes from it’s hide too.
Not on Lake Sandoval though, this is a reserve and everything is protected from human sacrifice. Apart from the fish that was lying in our canoe first thing this morning. It was stiff having obviously jumped aboard during the night. Alex took it up to the kitchen and the smell of it frying in butter and garlic was a nicer smell versus repellent and sunblock. Possibly BO from sweat.
A cooked breakfast was served with the additional side dish. It tasted divine. Alex shared the table with us before he disappeared when we were nearing the finish, to reappear with the cook. He was holding a plate with a flax piece in the shape of the sun as decoration. On the plate was the top half of a bread bun and an ignited candle. They started the “happy birthday to you” song that was sung with heartfelt kindness.
He positioned the flax decoration onto Claire’s head like a crown and then, she blew out the candle.
The three of us cheered and clapped. There was no other sole present at the lodge.
How simple and yet so special was that?
The art of placing value on an act of kindness far outweighed any materialistic gift that would normally be given. Besides, I hadn’t bought her anything let a lone there being any room in my daypack to have carried the thing.
I’m confident, Claire will remember this birthday for as long as her body allows and, she still has her marbles. Experiences, priceless ones, travel with you internally. No matter where you step on the planet in future; nor how old you reach in age. And is the core of behind why we love to travel still how we do, as crazy as that may read.
Picking up free-loaders is all part an parcel of it too. As you will soon find out …
After we cut up the bun, spread some butter and plum sauce and ate a piece, we chilled a little swinging in the hammock. Day trippers soon arrived. Peace and quiet was lost in conversational noise. All good.
Alex then signalled us and it was back down to the canoe and another b-line for the opposite side of the lake. This time, there was no jetty but the embankment. Paper, scissors, rock as to who of us steps off the canoe into the jungle to secure the rope. I lost.
For the next two to three hours, Alex escorted us on a jungle walk. We were on the side where the Howler Monkeys resided and their cacophony got louder as our compass took us in their direction.
No worries, Alex had a machete. It’s natural for images to flash before your eyes of how your life could end with one strike of the blade and the final resting place be fodder to life in the jungle. Happy to write it wasn’t. Alex sometimes had to cut a clearance for us to walk through. Wearing hats gave us some solace that anything above if it fell would bounce off! Meant we keep our eyes on the ground in-front and hands close to the sides.
How the family of Tarantulas didn’t hear us coming surprised us. Five baby ones just parked up outside a hole. Let’s not tickle the entrance, moving right a long.
We happened to be standing at the base of a massive tree when a Iguana just walked on by a couple of meters from our spot, not giving us the time of day. We did it, moving closer to the machete.
We observed more monkeys and birds however, we were just blown away by the trees and fauna as we trekked. Trees that were hundreds and hundreds of years old. Vines that co-habitat the trees too large to wrap your arms around. Walking trees that actually grow new legs so as to move towards sunlight. Strangling trees that like a Boa Constrictor or Anaconda, find a host to grow up it and then contract to kill the life out of it, using the rotting trunk to feed it the nutrients to grow more.
Stunning coloured butterflies darted and dodged. Alex peeled back some bark from a decaying tree trunk to reveal leaf shaped cock roaches. They scarpered as fast as they could under the decay on the ground. Which was always constant, leaves showering down.
The time did go quick and we ended up back at the canoe having done a full loop. Alex has been doing what he does for fifteen or more years and knew the route taken like the back of his hand. More living things tend to hide from the heat of the day which we didn’t mind. Doing what we had just done at night, well, Alex assured us that it would be more alive with insect life ten-fold.
We were happy with the present status.
Back to the lodge we paddled.
Lunch and an afternoon siesta awaited us.
Un-beknown to us all, there was more on the canoe than we realised.