A v a   G .

DAY #1
DATE: 14 March, 1998 13:10
LOCATION: Iquitos, Peru

Just yesterday I woke up to the chill of an ending Maine winter, now I am standing in the humid Neotropics. My feet have touched South American soil for the first time and my eyes have seen this one single spot on the Southern Hemisphere. I have only been here for one day but I have already seen the rich colorful culture of the land and people. Every place I turn I am immersed in this culture. There is so much character and color, not only physical color, but it is in the air with all of this spirit and soul. This day has been so long and tiring, but absolutely astonishing. This has been in my dreams every night for fourteen years and it is finally here!


  1. Black vultures
  2. Amazon king fisher
  3. Tern
  4. Heron
  5. Egret
  6. Yellow headed caracara
  7. Kiskadee
  8. Leech
  9. Urania moth
  10. Fishing spider
  11. Bird eating tarantula
  12. Tiger beetle
  13. Bullet ant (nest)
  14. Termites
  15. Parakeet
  16. Tree boa
  17. Smoking jungle frog
  18. Leaf-cutter ants
  19. Cockroach
  20. Walkingstick insect
  21. Leaf-mimicking grasshopper
  22. Mantids
  23. Tree frog
  24. Tiger heron
  25. Assassin bug

DAY #2
DATE: 15 March, 1998 21:27
LOCATION: Yacumama lodge

We just got back from a two hour night trail hike. So much is out there! I can almost feel all of the eyes staring back at me. To think probably everything we saw was only half of everything that was really there. The sky was so clear tonight; I saw so many stars. They were the only reminders that I was still on planet Earth. Everyone on earth looks up to the same night sky, but the places where they are standing are so different. These stars are the one familiar element in this entire unknown. I have left my safe harbor of Appleton, Maine and plunged head-first into what is unknown and so exciting!

This afternoon a few of us dove into a tributary off the Amazon River. Sixty feet below us? Who knows what is lurking? I am so lucky to be relaxing and floating in the largest river in the world. I feel so free! I feel so at home, like I belong here and like I have gone back to the Earth without all of these man-made objects. Everything is so pure and untouched, totally living in their own realm. Danger surrounds me from all sides and I love that feeling! I love the thrill, the risk, and the adventure. So much to see, it will be impossible to see it in only four days! I just want to experience so much and live it all.

Ava’s Species List

  1. Black collared hawk
  2. Dragonfly
  3. Boat billed flycatcher
  4. Tanager
  5. Black headed parrot
  6. Toucan
  7. Blue crowned trogon
  8. Mealy parrot
  9. Greater ani
  10. Crested oropendola (nest)

DAY #3
DATE: 16 March, 1998 22:11
LOCATION: Yacumama lodge

Today we climbed into a canopy tower! Over 100 feet off the ground! In the morning we did a rapid assesment of diversity in the different platforms. Then during the afternoon we went back for the fun part, zip-lining over the forest floor to another platform. It was amazing and nerve-wracking! I felt as if I was soaring through the tree-tops. I could spend days in the tree-tops or even live in them. Waking up to see the sunrise from the tops of the trees is something I want to do for the rest of my life. I love to think that I am one of the few people who have the opportunity to explore the treetops. It is such a new science and I have had a small but significant taste of it. I could get used to this very quickly!

Clear Rainbow
Things flow by and touch me and everything else.
Things flow by and mold me and the land.
Things flow as water does when meeting the rock that alters its course.
Like a clear rainbow of no color, it flies.
Flies to where I can’t go
And jumps where I can’t follow.
Faces in the wall, faces on the floor, faces of spirit and soul.
Color just a shade deeper; color just a shade brighter.
Me? What does my face look like? What are my colors?
Where do I find my clear rainbow?

Ava’s Species List

  1. Hook billed kites
  2. Aracari
  3. Woodpecker
  4. Jacamar
  5. Monkey, saki

DAY #4
DATE: 17 March, 1998 22:00
LOCATION: Yacumama Lodge

We just got back from a caiman watch. We went out in boats and our guide, Octavio, caught two of them with his bare hands. After he pulled them into the boat he asked if anyone wanted to hold them. Of course I said yes! What a feeling to hold such a dangerous animal! One was only two feet long and was very young, but the other was around three feet! We also saw a six-foot tree boa and two really big night monkeys. On the way back to the lodge it began to rain—it was so cool because I felt like an adventurer. Boating through the Amazon in the middle of a rainstorm with caiman somewhere in the water. I had this excitement that I could barely stand; I wanted to get up and dance or jump!

I have to do a water survey at 11:00 tonight. Today is our last full day—I am going to miss this place! I have fallen in love with this land and can’t wait until I see it again!

—Ava G.

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