Savannah Grace

Medicinal Gardens of the Rainforest

We packed up early, left our bags outside our door to be picked up and taken to the Posada Amazonas lodge by those little fairies again while we went on one last activity around Refugio Lodge.

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By motorized canoe we reached the Posada Amazonas lodge, 45 minutes downstream on the Tambopata River in the Peruvian rainforest.

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Climbing the steep wooden stairs from the river bank we walked ten minutes to reach another gem hidden amongst the trees, our luggage already waiting in our room.

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It doesn’t matter if you come with twelve or two people, guides are assigned to each group for the entire stay. We LOVED our guide, Jair. His passion for the rainforest was so contagious and he never made us feel like we were annoying him by stopping every two steps for a photo.

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In fact, he was right in there with us taking pictures. He loved getting involved in our creative filming and adventures and never pressured us to hurry up. He made a wonderful location relaxed and memorable. His endless knowledge of the flora and fauna, taught us so much about the nature around us.

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After Jair’s half hour initiation and slideshow about the Posada lodge, we had a short break before heading downstream about 15 minutes for our next activity.

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The medicine garden was a great place for Jair to show off his knowledge of all the plants, many of which have natural medicinal properties. We had many laughs, cracking inappropriate jokes at the “viagra” plant and ayahuaska which is known to give you spiritual revelations, the kind where you get to speak with God AKA a super huge trip. The use of ayahuaska is common practice in the rainforest, and performed under strict supervision of a shaman. I practically had to pull Kees out of the jungle before he started gnawing on the spiritual vine.

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We had learned about many of the plants of the rainforest on a previous trip to Suriname and it was great to have a refresher course. We, once again, tried quinine bark which is extremely bitter, best known for its ability to cure malaria. The ajos sacha which has similar benefits and smell to garlic and stinks up the forest. Other plants’ medicinal purposes come from the roots, the bark, the leaves and/or the flowers. Some are high in vitamin C, are anaesthetics, have anti-inflammatory effects, help with fevers, lower blood pressure, etc etc and the most interesting was the leaf that completely numbed our tongues after chewing it for just a few seconds. Amazing! I’d be pretty grateful for that plant if I was stranded in the wilderness and had to have an emergency tooth extraction.

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One of my favourite creatures of the rainforest are the spectacular colonies of leafcutter ants. Huge lines of workers carrying pieces of leaves larger than themselves cross the rainforest floor. I could literally sit down and watch them for hours. Each individual ant seems to have its own struggles, strengths and purpose. It’s easy to spot the leafcutter ants before you even get up close because the dirt trail is covered with a fresh line of bright green leaves perfectly chopped into pieces along their route. The surprising thing about the ants is that they don’t actually eat the leaves, but harvest them in a garden where they grow and produce the fungus they eat to survive. Unfortunately for me, in their busy lives, it was nearly impossible to get a clear photo of them.

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 While Jair was drilling us with his bootcamp style itinerary, I was still fighting off a bad cough and still feeling sick after Cusco. Even Kees whined more than once (especially at 3am), “I really cannot believe what they do to us. Do you think they do this to everybody?”

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After our visit to the natural medicine garden, the guest relations manager heard me coughing in my room, and came with a hot water bladder, cup of tea (hot water with pure lemon juice and a bit of honey) and practically tucked me into bed. WOW! Now that’ll kill off anything you’ve got. And delicious to boot. Ever after that, the guest manager prepared chicken noodle soup and teas specially for me and even brought them to me in bed. Now that’s what I call service in the jungle.

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Savannah

Video of leafcutter ants created by the fabulous Kees Book. This line of ants was extremely long and we never could find the beginning or end of it. If you have time, and are in a reading mood, please, please read this article! I just found it and figured I couldn’t put it better than they did. Leafcutter ants are incredibly fascinating! Please click that subscribe button on our Sticky Visuals  YouTube channel.

  

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