A travel moment in Peruvian Amazon

The air, stiff with 100% humidity, causes me to sweat profusely soaking my shirt. I'm trekking through the thick tropical rainforest of the Peruvian Amazon, inside the Pacaya-Samiria reserve as part of a team of volunteer students gathering data on the reserves ecological recovery. The trail is thick with mud, the heat and humidity are draining only after 10 minutes of walking. Our guide stops suddenly using the same higher sense of perception locals seem to be gifted with when it comes to animal detection. He stands motionless staring into the canopy, we all follow his gaze but our untrained eyes see nothing as we hopelessly scan the vista of green above. Then we hear noise, we see movement, but then its gone as quickly as it appeared. I'm standing motionless, my heart pounding in my chest as my excitement roots me to the spot. And then more movement to our right, we all try feverishly to see what caused it. Without warning dark silhouettes begin to dance through the canopy, and as the noises move closer we see the small bodied primates. The guides translator whispers to us “squirrel monkey”.

A vocal procession ensues as we are spotted. Their movement halts as they examine us from a safe distance. I stand still, transfixed with excitement and intrigue. My searching gaze is met with that of two small black eyes whose returning look is just as much filled with curiosity. Flashes of brown and orange seem to appear from nowhere and everywhere with crashes and cries erupting all around us. Their number and confidence seems to increase as more and more of these beautiful creatures overwhelm us from all sides. Branches heave and bend as they leap and dive with such ease through the kaleidoscope of green.

Curiosity spurs some members of the troop down from the canopies to tree trunks beside us . Others take their confidence further and come to within feet of us on the rainforest floor as if to better somehow comprehend us. Their intrigue and wonder at me can only match the awe I feel for them as I become increasingly lost in this experience of a life time. More whispers from the translator “a troop of 50, maybe 60”. 60! The excitement at the prospect of seeing just a glimpse of one of these beautiful animals would have sufficed, but I am utterly overwhelmed and honoured at being submersed in this 360 degrees of untamed life.

My own group has dispersed, attempting to capture photos worthy of expressing this phenomenal moment. As the troop begins to move off and melt back into the forest with the same elusive ease as they arrived, the emotions of the experience slowly permeate through me. I turn to the guide who is once again leading the group as we continue to push onwards through the thick growth, I hope to myself that my emotional integrity will withstand this expedition, if not my physical!

S Beazer

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