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A Typical Day at Cocha Cashu

by Jason on July 24, 2012

I am attempting to sleep through the night in the jungle here at Cocha Cashu in Manu Park. The grasshoppers and frogs provide the soothing background noise confirming that all is well and peaceful. But I don’t feel at peace. Not at night in the jungle. I am always on edge — just a little. My ears are always on guard, always aware.

After two weeks in the jungle, I am finally experiencing that I am consistently safe and nothing is looking to eat me or kill me. Everything goes about its business as if I don’t exist — except for the mosquitos. They like me.

I hear the sound of a bat whizzing by my tent with its wings flapping at lightning speed. Nothing to worry about. I see some cockroaches, some assorted spiders and ants crawl over my tent occasionally. I was annoyed tonight, because a small spider had found its way INSIDE my tent. I’m sure glad it wasn’t a jumping tarantula like I had seen the other night.

I hear the snorting and breathing of a caiman in the lake close by. A bird shrieks in response. I hear the sound of a dog barking consistently in the distance, but there are no dogs here. So I know it must be some other type of mammal or bird which I cannot identify. More time passes.

I hear branches and leaves falling from time to time. I hear the territorial call of the bamboo rat, which sounds much louder than its size would dictate. The rat’s call sounds like a retarded loud bird with repeated short calls that slowly fade out.

Every night I hear more sounds which I cannot identify. Sometimes I hear the call of the great potoo, a horrible gutteral growl that lasts six seconds at a time. It sounds like a jaguar or something meaner, but it’s a harmless bird. That bird scared the crap out of me the first night.

I also constantly hear what sounds like footprints stepping close by. I constantly hear them. But nothing ever happens, and I never see anything. So I’ve become accustomed to that sound.

I finally hear the ferocious territorial call of the howler monkey. I know it’s sunrise. Just like the rooster crowing in the morning, the howler monkey makes its call.

A few minutes later, I sit up in my tent. I notice a small mammal trotting along the trail about twenty feet to my right. The animal is about a foot long, and it looks like a weasel. I later found out it was a coati, a member of the raccoon family.

The birds are already chirping. I can’t even begin to count or describe what I am hearing. The casike sounds like a curious playful bird. The motmot enraptures my whole attention with its sweet romantic whistling that pierces the air. The motmot’s call sings the sweetest melody as the male and female call each other back and forth.

I get up and walk to the dining hall for breakfast. While I’m sitting for breakfast, I notice the brown capuchin monkeys close by in the trees. The capuchins are always around. I notice the normals butterflies I always see. Inevitably, I always see a few more new species each day. Today I witness a huge butterfly with bright blue wings fluttering by. I must have seen at least 50 species of butterfly in the three weeks that I’ve been here.

After breakfast, I return to my tent to retrieve some items. Again, I notice the brown capuchin monkeys walking and jumping from branch to branch. I notice many sizes of ants, including the leaf cutter ants. I notice a multi-colored grasshopper on the clothes line. I see more birds I cannot identify. More butterflies too. I hear more sounds I do not recognize.

One bird sounds like a siren is going off. Another bird screeches annoyingly. Another bird sounds like someone is swallowing a french horn. And the french horn sound continues repeatedly.

I watch as some birds fight and other birds play. The macaws make the loudest most annoying sound ever. The macaws always screech as if someone is dying, making sure that they are heard for hundreds of yards in every direction.

Some birds chirp. The hummingbirds go whizzing by. Some birds whine. Then I hear what sounds like the heavy breathing of an obese man who has just run fifty yards. Except it’s not a fat man. The heavy breathing is the sound of the hoatzin, an awkward prehistoric bird, both ugly and beautiful at the same time.

I notice herons, green ibises and a number of other birds out in the water. I notice the ‘Jesus Christ’ lizard by the water. I see fish jumping out of the water. I see birds of prey circling in the sky.

In the evening time I always notice a number of frogs, lizards and other bugs that come out. Today is just another day at Cocha Cashu. And I can’t even remember half of what I’ve heard or seen today to write for this piece here.

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