It’s a Jungle Out There!

Forgive me, Blogger, it has been three weeks since my last post.   I’ve been wandering in the wilderness, sans laptop, with nary a scrap of wifi to leave a trail behind.  Let me tell you how it was.

Beyond the frozen Andes…

https://i0.wp.com/i1176.photobucket.com/albums/x334/nbaltuck/Amazon%20jungle/a6074a84-c875-414a-8745-e835cff0fe3b_zpsc66f4997.jpg

..a thick cloud cover gradually dissipated to reveal…

…mile upon mile of endless jungle.  

No roads.  Only the mighty Amazon River and its tributaries winding their way through the hot steamy rainforest like great brown snakes.

We landed in Iquitos, a jungle city accessible only by air or water.  Three-wheeled motocarros, motorized rickshaws, were the popular mode of conveyance.  Families of five squeezed onto motorbikes to go about their business.

We chose Amazonia Expeditions for its environmental work, and its support of the little villages along the Tahuayo River.  Our guide was Orlando.  He is the Eighth Natural Wonder of the World, and I will tell you more about that later.


Mario, Orlando’s sidekick, spoke no English, but always knew when an extra hand was needed, or how to make us laugh.

We traveled in this blue motorboat four and a half hours upriver on the Amazon and then the Tahuayo.

At Tahuayo Lodge we switched to a small motorboat…

….picked up supplies…


…and set out for the research center, another two hours away. The jungle was huge, the river was endless.  No breadcrumb trail to follow back to civilization; we just went deeper and deeper into the wilderness.

Travel on the Tahuayo River was a more quiet and intimate experience.

Wildlife was easier to view.

We stopped to watch Squirrel Monkeys playing in the trees.  Or maybe they stopped to watch us.

Here and there along the riverbank were villages consisting of about a dozen houses built around a village green.

 

For the Riberenos, the river people, the river was not only their only highway.  It was their laundry room…

Their bathhouse…

Their pantry and their lifeline.

At last we arrived at the research center.

My grown kids were in their element, as excited and carefree as I have ever seen them.  If you have followed my blog, you already know I am a confessed Travel Weenie.   But I am vulnerable to peer pressure (my children, actually), and I try to stretch myself out of my comfort zone.   Which is how I ended up in the Amazon Jungle.  Frankly, I wilt in the heat, and the thought of spending a week sweating and swatting mosquitoes carrying dengue fever, malaria, and yellow fever,  never mind typhus, was daunting.   I’m reminded of a Big Bang Theory episode in which Leonard reports on Sheldon’s condition: “He’s paranoid, and he’s established a nest.”

Well, here is my little nest.

And here is a little story–more like show and tell–that I will leave you with until next time.  There was a public shower and restroom that we accessed by walking down a long thatch-roofed walkway.


In the bathroom on our first morning at the station, Bea said, “Don’t touch that post, Mom.” “Why not?”I asked.   It was backlit, but even looking up close, I saw nothing alarming.

She said, “Take a flash photo.”  I ALWAYS have my camera with me, and so I took the shot, and looked at the viewer.  This is what I saw.  That post was four inches wide, so you can imagine how big that arachnid wallflower was.

Just thinking about this is making me sweat, so I’ll sign off now.  Next time, we’ll venture beyond the restroom, and into the jungle to see some of the wildlife–and further challenges–we encountered on our Amazon jungle hikes.

Thanks for stopping by.  It feels great to be back!

All words and images c2013NaomiBaltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Rivers

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefee.

Click here for more interpretations of Ailsa’s Weekly Travel Theme: Big.

True Confessions of a Tacky Tourist, and the Be-Very-Lated Sunshine Award

I’m a bad dog!  Aside from 2012 Blog of the Year Awards, I haven’t posted an  award since last May!   Those bloggers who honored me with these nominations have probably forgotten all about it, or long since given up.  But I’ve kept track, because I knew I’d get around to it……………………………………..eventually.

Here are the four simple rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award.

1. Display the logo on your blog.  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.  3. State 5 facts about yourself.  4. Pass the award on to 8 (or 10) other bloggers, and link to one of their specific posts so they get notified by ping back.

As long as I’m spilling the beans, all five facts will be the true confessions of a tacky tourist.  I hope you will still respect me in the morning.

5.  Yes, we are the tacky tourists your cool friends warned you about.

4. We didn’t get a magic carpet video in Cappadocia because we were running late, and our travel companions would’ve shunned us. But we wanted to.


3. We have discovered many practical and economical uses for a quality  zoom lens.

2. I must also confess that, in our travels, as hard as we tried, we were rarely able to embarrass our teenagers…

1. …Or get ourselves arrested.

Here are links back to the bloggers who nominated me for The Sunshine Award.  Be sure to check out their blogs–you will not be disappointed!

Sarah Potter of sarahpotterwrites is pursued by the muses of prose, poetry, and music.  She is a very fine poet, a heavenly singer, and a novelist.

Micheline of Micheline’s Blog features art, music, books, history, and current events.  Very classy!

Paula of stuff i tell my sister shares just that–all the stuff she shares with her best friend who is also her sister.  It’s like sitting at their kitchen table.

Carol of Loethen Art Designs, Creativity, Camera, and Computer!

Rara of rarasaur, where frightfully wondrous things happen.  She has a fun, quirky, natural voice that I really enjoy.

Maggie Myklebust of flyawayhome is an American author living in Norway.  She shares her life on her blog and in her memoir Fly Away Home.

Now I get to pass forward The Sunshine Award to the following bloggers.  Please take a minute to pay them a visit.

Nikki of imayfly has a fun fresh voice with a wry sense of humor.

Island Traveler  of thisman’sjourney is refreshing and inspiring.  If you ever need a little hit of sweetness–and sunshine–check out his blog.

Tess at How The Cookie Crumbles is a sharp writer, and I really enjoy her flash fiction.

Naomi at The Teatime Reader has excellent taste in books, and reviews them for her readers intelligently, perceptively, and eloquently.

Christine of Texana’s Kitchen is funny and smart, a great storyteller, and she always leaves you with a great recipe to try out.

Russel of Russel Ray Photos will give you great photography tips, as well as share pearls of wisdom from his wise old Grandma!

4AM Writer will give you tips on how to balance your writing and your life.

Ruth of Ruth E. Hendricks Photography will give you sweet glimpses of sunshine and shadow in her beautiful photography.

The Geek Goddess of Two Different Girls will take you to interesting out of the way places and make you smile every time!

I have more be-very-lated awards to post, and many more great blogs and bloggers to introduce you to.  I don’t want to overwhem you, so I will dole them out like Blog Candy.   Thanks for stopping by.  Warmly, Naomi

Beam Me Out of the Closet, Scotty!

Okay, true confession.  Only a handful of you know my closet is crammed with Star Trek gadgets like my Borg Cube piggy bank, my Star Trek sound effects keychain, and plastic pointed ears.  By the age of sixteen I had attended my first Star Trek Convention, and knew every classic Trek episode by name and by heart.  When I left for college, Star Trek stayed home.  Then life, career, and family caught up with me.

But Star Trek left its mark.  As a kid I watched a lot of junk on TV, hardly noticing the difference between good and bad writing.  Well, that’s not quite true.  I knew all the writing on Gilligan’s Island stank, but watched it anyway.  I was fourteen when I noticed that the Star Trek reruns I was watching ran the gamut in quality.  Most were fine, some shone brilliantly and others fell flat.  I began to compare and analyze each episode, from the trashy Turnabout Intruder to the exquisite City on the Edge of Forever.

Each show featured the same cast, and followed the same format.  Each began with Red Shirts, those unfortunate crewmembers doomed to a cruel and unusual death before the first commercial break.  Law of the Universe.  I could live with that.  Many resorted to technobabble to explain and/or justify that week’s dilemma and resolution.  I could live with that too.   So what made one episode a masterpiece and another an epic failure?

Strange new worlds, the aliens that populated them, killer epidemics, and intergalactic wars provided intriguing backdrops.  That was enough for the action figure collectors.  But it was the emotional complexity of the cast I found most compelling.  Kirk, Spock, and McCoy were all so different from each other.  What interested me was their reactions to problems, interactions with each other, and their internal struggles.

My favorite episodes were lighthearted, like The Trouble with Tribbles or A Piece of the Action.  Other favorites, like Friday’s Child or Journey to Babel, gave us comic relief in between moments of high drama.  Many episodes were thinly disguised commentary on our own society.

A few shows were obviously written by people who didn’t understand the characters or who sold them out to squeeze a plot from a limp and pale idea.  The Galileo 7  was bad writing, and character assassination, pure and simple, of poor Mr. Spock.

From the simple exercise of comparison and analysis, I learned that I love humor, and use it now in whatever I do.  I prefer character-driven fiction.  I learned how to set up a story, and build tension, and be true to my characters.

I hope you will embrace whatever series, book, or show inspired and helped make you the writer you are today, be it Star Trek, Nancy Drew, Harry Potter or The Simpsons.  Analyze it, explore it, own it!

Whatever works for you, may you live long and prosper

Was there a particular book, author, or television series that influenced or influences your writing?