Friday, October 18, 2013
Some people said it is hard for them to sleep with all of the noises of the forest, but I slept like a log after the restless sleep on the bus.
After breakfast, we headed into the rainforest for a 4 hour hike. Along the way, we ate tree bark that prevents and treats malaria, and sampled a tree sap that helps you if you have stomach problems. The foliage was amazing. We saw a tree called the walking palm tree. The tree literally walks through the forest because of phototropism. We also learned that the roots of the trees here can grow as much as 2 cm per day since the soil is so fertile. Another cool thing we discovered was a matchstick sized parasitic mushroom that uses an insect's body as a host. Also, there were leaves that could be used like paper. If you take a sharp object like a knife, and write on the leaf like you are using a pen, red writing will appear. This happens because the leaf is full of iron from the soil, and when you cut into it, you break the leaf's veins and the iron oxidizes and turns red.
We also searched for and found baby frogs (both harmless and deadly). The tiny, poisonous frog was called the ruby dart frog. Speaking of deadly, we found deadly bullet ants crawling up a tree. It really was poor timing because as the guide started taking about the lethal ants, I was bit by something right through my pants, and I was convinced that I had been bit by a deadly bullet ant and would spike a fever and die at any moment. Luckily, my bite was not deadly, though it did sting for hours. Fortunately, benedryll fixed me right up. I will bring benedryll with me on every hike here from now on. In addition to the deadly ants, we also found lemon ants that apparently taste like lemons. A few of the people in our group licked the ants off of a tree! I did not. There was a hilarious moment when Miriam licked the tree, then another girl went to lick the same spot, and Miriam yelled out, "I've got a bit of a cold!" ... Like that was the biggest concern when licking ants off a tree... The last type of ant that we saw was an ant that people use to stitch wounds. Apparently if you stick the ant on a cut, it will bite you and the bite will close up the wound.
At the end of the hike, we walked through a swamp where the guide was nearly bitten by one of the top 12 deadliest snakes in the world. At first, he blurted out a string of curses and kept saying, "bad luck, unlucky, bad luck." We didn't know what to make of it. Not too long after, he moved back a step, calmed down, and invited us over for a closer look. I got close enough for a picture, but quickly headed out of there.
The hike was amazing. Afterwords, we headed back to the lodge for lunch and a siesta.
It wasn't until 4:30 when we headed back out for a 4 hour boat ride to look for caymans and to watch the sunset and the full moon rise over the lagoon. I wasn't loving searching for caymans with flashlights in the dark. I was really only looking because I didn't want to not see it and have it jump into the boat and kill me. But then, when we finally spotted one, I realized how cool it is to be 2 feet away and see the cayman's eyes glowing red in the dark. It isn't something I would like to do every night, but it ended up being pretty awesome.