Tag Archives: Rivers

Don’t Pee In The Water.

The Amacayacu lodge or headquarters sets in the confluence of the rios Mata Mata and Amazon. I was sitting on the front dock of the Amazon when some workers from the Mocaqua community docked their boat. Before going back to his roofing job, one of the young guys, took off his shirt and did a back flip into the Amazon. “Ahh,” I though, “I can swim here.” When I mentioned it to Tomas, he suggested I swim in the Mata Mata, by the boat dock, where the people who work here dock. “It’s also somewhat cleaner than the Amazon,” he added. “Fine by me,” I think, so I packed my bathing suit.

When I got here I asked Alejandro, one of the student geologists interning here if he ever swam there.”Yes. almost every day I swim. It’s beautiful. The water is warm on the top, but down under it is cool and refreshing. But, Rubi, it’s very important you don’t pee in the water.” “Why?” I asked reasonably. “It’s not good for you because of the fishes.” Ummm. I understand my pee might be not good for the fishes, but why not good for me? I pondered this. The following day I was in the kitchen with Pedro, another one of the students. “Pedro, what will happen if I pee in the water?”
“He looked at me with startling blue eyes.”It’s very bad because of the little fishes that can enter your body through the place where you pee.” Yikes.

Again I pondered. The practical side of me thinks this is something a mother would say to her kids to keep them from polluting the river, then I considered the many strange critters that live here: the piranha, fluorescent bugs, plants, and fungi, exotic insects, pink dolphins, even trees that are protected by pointy cudgels that strangle interlopers. This rainforest is a scene painted by the Brothers Grimm. If the wolf can eat the grandmother and dress in her clothes, there’s a pretty good chance a fish can enter the peeing place.

I will probably swim, but not laugh hard while I’m in the process, or sneeze.

The pipe has a leak. (La tubria tiene una fuga.)

 

Sailing off into the sunset.

Sailing off into the sunset.

I’m taking an on-line Spanish course. Yesterday I was taking a quiz using the verbs tener -to have and  hacer -to do or make. Rather than look up the English translation I try to figure the sentence out. Sometimes, about 80% of the time, I’m right, sometimes I’m waaay off. La tubria tiene una fuga. I’m thinking cannas-tubers and fungus: tubria and fuga. I knew the nouns were  singular so I got the verb correct.  The actual translation gave me my first laugh of the day. I pictured myself in Amazonas listening to my students, or new friends, responding to comments, commenting on situations, ideas, facts..learning.

gorgeous orange canna

gorgeous orange canna

“Ruby, la tubria tiene una fuga.” I might answer,  “Muy bien. Voy a excavarla y tirar a las basura.” He or she will look at me like I am nuts.  Maybe a student  or will use the idiom. ‘La cosa va viento en popa.’  (it’s going exceedingly well.) Maybe she is complementing me on my progress.  But, I hear, the word popa and viento and think her dad is going somewhere. I might just say ‘donde el van?’ which I hope means where is he going? Ahhhh. It is the way with other languages. You study, practice, make the best of it , be brave. And laugh at yourself.

Go for it.

Go for it.

The Amazon: Doing Good

allegheny areal high wide shot

Allegheny River

I’m a river rat.  I grew up on the Allegheny River. I swam in it, fished with my grampa in it, and canoed on it. Most of all I watched it flow by our house. Sometimes it passed by gracefully, like a gauzy ball gown during a waltz;  occasionally it unleashed its fearsome might,  roaring past as if it were angry, in a terrible hurry.

 I loved that river. My  heart and soul was nourished by  its energy. My Mom taught me to be respectful,  “The river is beautiful, powerful, and dangerous,  but  without its  water nothing would  exist.” 

220px-Leticia-Houses

Houses in Leticia

Along both banks of the river were the  Allegheny Mountains. In spite of the scary Brothers Grimm stories,  my friends and I played in the forest. We built shacks and tree-houses, (ok all shacks), ate fresh raspberries, blueberries, and elderberries, and explored caves Indians might have  slept in.

 I loved those woods, too.  As a little kid, I knew, somehow, even though the critters that shared the forest with us kept themselves pretty much hidden, that they,  the deer, raccoons, wolves, bears, beavers, rabbits, and even the snakes…, were our neighbors-that we shared the resources. “Pay attention, you aren’t the only animal in the forest,” my mom would laugh.” cayman-tropical-rain-forest-amazon-alligator-gator-14159010

In August I will be going to live  for awhile in Leticia, Columbia, on the Amazon River. 250px-Colombia_-_Amazonas_-_Leticia.svgThe  Amazon River is the largest drainage system in the world! Its length is the equilivent of the distance from New York to Rome! The Amazon River basin is home to the largest rainforest on Earth! ON EARTH!

Amazon River & Basin

Amazon River & Basin

It’s size is roughly as big as the whole USA. Scientists say the rain forest is  ‘THE LUNGS OF OUR PLANET-without the rain forest,  the earth will die (or is dying) a slow death. We will die with it. The magnificent rain forest houses over half of the world’s species. Many folks aren’t being respectful, they apparently don’t understand that we all breathe the same air, with the same lungs.leticia boats on river

In Leticia, I’m going to be a small part of  Fundacion Entropika, a non-profit organization comprised of dedicated conservationists, that under the direction of Dr. Angela Maldonaldo, is fighting the good fight, for our planet, and those of us (all of us) who live here. 306px-Leticia

Entropika.org, ” works to contribute to the long-term conservation of tropical biodiversity by facilitating local community-led projects, establishing educational programs and research,  while working closely with the local indigenous prople.” And, much more.

Dr. Maldonado is a force. I met her last month at an IPPL conference, and immediately knew I wanted to work with this group of people who are dedicated to keeping the lungs of our earth clear, and  the habitat for the people, and other species of  animals, who call the Amazon home, safe. 

Listen to my mother. We need to be respectful. Without a healthy planet, without clean water, and forest’s oxygen, we are gonners.    amazon fishing