This morning Checa takes the children on a jungle treasure hunt. They are taken through the jungle’s trail system to accomplish several tasks, earning them each a prize at the end.
We watch them as they knock lemons from a tree with a big stick and turn them into fresh lemonade for us all to drink… the best lemonade we’ve ever had.
They eat termites… well, one of them does… props to you, Mia. They make bracelets from seeds and other jungle treasures.
They have bow and arrow lessons, make fresh pizzas with the hotel chef (ahem… a genuine native Amazonian tradition, I’m sure), discover Macaws in the jungle and feed the resort’s pet spider monkey (saved when it was young as it had been abandoned by its mother).
It was an incredible experience for them all and they arrive at lunch buzzing with stories to share.
Next we are taken in one of their motorised canoes to Gamitana creek. Checa guides us through the Gamitana Model Farm and all their fruit trees and crops. He uses his machete to help pick and peel all the fresh fruit for us to try – we taste fresh limes, lemons, bananas, grapefruits, kiwi and star fruit. Most were lovely – the star fruit and the bananas were not!
We were shown around the farm’s banana house where the bananas are taken to help them ripen and sweeten. We also see the glass houses where peeled bananas are dried to supply local hotels for their breakfast buffets.
At the huge sugarcane plants we’re told to stand back as snakes are usually hiding in the bottom. He cuts down one of the canes and chops it up for us all to taste.
We’ve never tried fresh sugar cane before – it is gorgeous. It’s like a sweet drink and it comes at just the right time as we were all flagging in the humidity – a sugar lift is exactly what we needed.
Then… to help purify our insides (or something) we drink sap from a dragon blood tree.
We trek through the narrow jungle trails towards Sanipanga to an awaiting canoe for us to paddle back down the creek. It is a beautiful and almost silent journey, with only birds and the occasional fish interrupting us.
On the left hand side we see two people standing in the river up to their necks next to some heavy machinery dredging the river… it looks like a giant wash-board. They smile and wave…. but it’s a really odd sight. “Gold mining” says Checa. They are illegally dredging the banks of the river for gold. It causes erosion to the river banks, changes the course of the river and pollutes the water as they use high volumes of mercury. We’re told the police do all they can to control it but as it’s so lucrative mines continue to pop up all over the place.
We continue down the main river, heading back to the resort. The sun is going down and the river is absolutely beautiful.