Tentatively my hand reaches toward the dark reflective surface and when I feel the warmth on my fingers I realise that I have been holding my breath. The darkness of the Rio Negro is not beckoning, it does not tempt me, it’s opaque surface cunningly hides whatever lays beneath and yet I am captivated. I can barely hear the sound of the blue motorised canoe as it cuts through the mysterious waters of this tributary of the Amazon river, both exhilarated and terrified, I cannot believe that I am about to spend the next three days in the Amazon jungle.
I’ll never be able to adequately recapture our time, no craftily constructed sentence can describe the first bite of a sun ripened cashew fruit, the tart juicy fruit leaving behind an unexpected dryness in your mouth or the heart stopping tug on your fishing line when a piranha craftily steals your bait without ensnaring itself. No well-meaning, but poorly executed photograph will show you the richness of the sunset, the brilliance of the night sky filled with more stars than you could dream possible but I shall, at the very least, try to give you a glimpse into our awe-inspiring trip into the jungle.
Getting back from two glorious weeks in Brazil where it’s cheaper to buy a bottle of cachaça than it is to buy a Kit Kat (yay for caparinahs!) most people reacted to our tales of the Amazon with either something milder than fly swatting impatience or awe-struck wonder, with most of the latter confusing our stupidity for bravery. I most certainly did not feel bravery the day we left our log cabin on stilts and set off to spend a night under the jungle sky. I must admit that when the last embers of sunlight finally faded from the sky and the darkness lay around us, embracing us with it’s warm sticky heat, I could not still my beating heart or understand why the darkness surprised me with its encompassing hunger. Nope, there was no room for bravery in my hammock that night (perhaps I could have made some space if I dared to remove my hiking boots) and as I awaited daybreak in the middle of the jungle protected by nothing more than a tomato loving guide and a bonfire I had serious doubts about my sanity. In the few moments before the darkness fully succumbs to daylight, I hear the rustling of a great Amazonian beast beneath my hammock and then loud splash as the creature enters the water. I try to convince myself that this is just a manifestation of my overactive imagination, I mean I was the child who saw an axe murderer outside my window one windy night when a tree cast a show through my bedroom curtains, so anything is possible here. Wait a second, I’m in the jungle, anything is possible here, cue the music as my mild panic turns to paralysing paranoia. But daylight did come and as we packed up the canoe and headed back to the lodge tomato lover Mateus sneaks a smile as he asks us if we heard the Caiman beneath our hammocks.