My family has been in Peru, in the Amazon rain forest for the last five days. To get to our lodge, we had to fly to a town called Iquitos, travel two hours on the Amazon River to the tributary of the Tahuayo River, and then travel up the Tahuayo River for a couple hours until we landed at the Tahuayo Lodge. I think we are about 200 miles plus to the Brazilian border. The expedition company we used, Amazonia Expeditions, is ranked the best in Peru. Usually on vacation, we prefer the Hilton style of accommodations, but we decided to trade in luxury for adventure, so we went deep into the forest to experience what I will call “Jones Family Camp in the Amazon”.
Several times on this trip, I have been confronted with my own fear and lack of control. First, it was on the canopy zip line that hovered 90 feet over the rain forest. Though we were completely harnessed in and safe, the lack of control I felt, as I sat up in a tree 90 feet above the rain forest, was unbelievable. Then, there was the time in the boat with the snake. We were traveling to the Amazon Research Center lodge, and our guides were using machetes to forge a path for the boat through the flooded jungle, when all of sudden, next to me on a branch was a six-foot long snake of some sort. I began to loose it. Our guide then stopped the boat. He reached out to grab the snake so he could show us the snake, and the snake began to flail. As it flailed, our guide worked hard not to let it bite him. I watched in terror as I sat in the back of the boat, while our guide in the front of the boat had a “come to Jesus moment” with the snake. The guide won, and with reassurance, he said, “Don’t worry, it is not poisonous.”
Then I had my own, “come to Jesus” moment when our guide brought the six-foot snake into the boat. I wanted to jump out of the boat, but the water surrounding didn’t look safe in the thick flooded forest. Slowly, the guide let each of my children hold this creature. I fought the panic. Snakes aren’t my favorite.
I tested my wits again that same evening. I wanted to stay back at the lodge but my family wanted to go on the night journey out in the boat. The goal was to see Caiman and possibly more snakes, including the Anaconda. I resisted, but the girls begged and begged. So once again, I put my trust into our guide, Christian. I prayed to God for the rapture (it didn’t come), and stepped into the boat in the dark of the night. The journey took us through several channels, lakes and forested areas where our guides used machetes to forge a path for the riverboat once again. I remembered the six-foot snake we saw earlier and felt the urge to go into fetal position. Instead, I just clutched my Isabel and Grace as if we were on our final journey of life. Finally, after an hour in the boat, we arrived at a lake where millions of lily pads provided a nesting place for mama Caimans to birth their baby Caimans. Underneath the surface of the water, in the dark of the night, were thousands of little lights provided by glowworms, and it all seemed like a fairy tale. The sky was big; God Almighty orchestrated the sounds of the wild. We were surrounded by Caiman and we could hear them grunting.
Our guide, Christian, found a baby for the girls to hold, and the moment seemed unreal.
The hour ride back to the lodge wasn’t nearly as scary as the ride out. I now had more trust in the guides, and more confidence that things don’t jump out at night. The worst thing that happened was a little fish jumped in our boat to make things exciting.
The rain came down as we rode back to the lodge, and in the black of the night, Isabel fell asleep on my lap until we were back at the lodge safe and sound. I gave thanks to God for a safe return.
We swam with pink dolphins this week.
We ate the Piranha.
We hiked and saw monkeys.
We found big bugs.
We saw snakes.
We swam in the river.
We were bitten by hundreds of mosquitos.
We zip lined across the jungle.
Best of all, we lived to tell the stories.
It was so much fun to have this adventures together. We laughed a lot, the girls played cards, our computers were off, and so was the electricity. We shared a common hatred for mosquitos, and the girls talked me off my cliff of panic with the snake.
I have learned a lot about my children this week, how brave they are. They are strong young ladies!
We have been in the Amazon, where nature is wild and somewhat unpredictable. However, I have realized there is nothing to fear about this place. Fear often comes when we don’t understand something or we are feeling a lack of control. However, most often, to conquer fear, we just need to trust and take a step of faith. I am grateful my family was with me on this adventure because it has definately brought us closer as we all faced our challenges.
Tomorrow we head to the Andes! The adventure continues.
We loved the Amazon.
Please forgive all my typos and mispellings tonight! I am trying to get this posted the night before a 2:30 wake up call!
Specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy
Life, Family, Faith and Travel...the life of a Jones
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