As night fell the cheerful chirps of cicadas (the only insect capable of sweating, and thus the only ones out during the day) turned to croaks and songs of frogs and crickets.
After dinner, we departed on our very last activity in the Tambopata Rainforest. Jair took us for an hour walk through the moonlight trees, flashlights in hand. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to us if by absolute terrible bad fortune all of our flashlight batteries died.
Jair continued to amaze me, this time with his insane ability to spot tiny, camouflaged creatures in the dark. A tiny but bright green tree frog blended perfectly into the leaf he sat on, but nothing got past Jair!
Equally as small and disguised geckos, spiders and ants were spotted left, right and centre. One of the spiders, Jair warned, was one of the most poisonous spiders in South America. Another reminder that WE were the uninvited guests here. That moment when we slowly started stepping away, Jair confidently sacrificed his hand for a photo.
A fascinatingly, terrifying creature that we saw often was the tailless whip scorpion. As terrifying as they look, this spider-like scorpion has no tail and thus no venom. A little bit like a man without his manhood, if you ask me.
Miss Tarantula, the gorgeous beauty of the underground, was sitting at her threshold, a dark hole in a rotting tree stump. This time, when she jumped back in her home at sight of us, Jair taught us to be tarantula hunters too and use the stick to lure her out. This was one of the most exciting moments of my time in the rainforest. With nothing more than a short piece of stick between us, leaning down and getting right up close, I was not fearful of the giant spider. The only fear I had was the luring trick not working for me as it had for the boys. When I felt her tugging on the other end of the stick I slowly pulled and felt so much pride when I felt her continued efforts to keep the stick until she was completely drawn from her nest.
An army of patrolling bullet ants, who can be extremely aggressive, blocked our path to freedom. They’re so big they could practically carry you into the bushes and devour you whole. Instead, they most commonly sting with their venomous fangs, leaving you with a sting more painful than any other insects’. It is said to be like, “waves of burning, throbbing, all-consuming pain that continues unabated for up to 24 hours”. Some have described it as similar to being shot. I cannot imagine and hope I never have to find out what either feels like.
When Kees noticed a few crawling up his gumboots, the three of us took off in panic mode. Like fire under our bums, we sprinted through them, exiting the rainforest jumping, screaming and stomping in circles like elephants in a nest of mice.
It was our last night in the rainforest of Peru and I wished it would never end. The tiny fireflies blinking between the leaves around us made it an unforgettable moment and goodbye.
Wishing us a last goodnight, Jair said, “See you in the morning and don’t forget your pink socks.”
Bullet Ants: Okay, I just read this on Wikipedia and if you want your jaw to drop like mine just did, I suggest you should read this too.
“The Satere-Mawe people of Brazil use intentional bullet ant stings as part of their initiation rites to become a warrior. The ants are first rendered unconscious by submerging them in a natural sedative, and then hundreds of them are woven into a glove made of leaves (which resembles a large oven mitt), stingers facing inward. When the ants regain consciousness, a boy slips the glove onto his hand. The goal of this initiation rite is to keep the glove on for a full 10 minutes. When finished, the boy’s hand and part of his arm are temporarily paralyzed because of the ant venom, and he may shake uncontrollably for days. The only “protection” provided is a coating of charcoal on the hands, supposedly to confuse the ants and inhibit their stinging. To fully complete the initiation, however, the boys must go through the ordeal a total of 20 times over the course of several months or even years.”
We lost the footage of us with the tarantula, so instead here is a clip of the tarantula we secretly filmed in Suriname. Click like if you see the frog!
Categories: Savannah Grace