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Lluvia de la Selva

My alarm clock was the sun. Though I had not gotten to bed until almost 4 am, when the sun rose and shone in the window around 7 am, I awoke to greet the day. Today I would float the Rio Frio. There was no chance I could have slept any longer; I was far too excited. The magic of the night before was still dancing around in my head and I wondered if I would find the waters here as magical during the day as I did in the middle of the night. I would soon find out.

We worked hard and yet efficiently getting the two pontoon boats down to the water, the engines strapped on and all of our gear that we would be needing taken care of. The wind was blowing hard, but it was a warm wind and a welcome change from the cold winds of Vancouver Island where I had just spent the last 4 months. The water of the lagoon where we launched was not as mystical as it had seemed the night before, but I knew that it still held mysteries. I knew it held large tarpon.

Cristofer was to be my guide for this trip. It was to be a short one. We still had a 4-hour drive back to the finca and a lot of work to do there after the fishing. This was just a short introductory trip. I had my big rod strung up, a good strong tippet as well as a bite tippet and a large topwater fly tied to it. I was prepared.

We situated ourselves into our seats and were finally off. We went downriver first, the small 2 hp motors pushing us along with the currents. The further downriver we got, the wilder it all became. I made some casts, but was too overwhelmed with what I was seeing to really think hard about fishing. I knew that it being so close to the full moon, the fish would not be actively feeding this time of day, as they had fed all night. I had heard them. I had watched them. I knew.

A jungle of green rose up from the river on either side. Curtains of wild orchids draped the trees in places. Many other exotic flowers grew wild, adding a bit of color to the tones of green, brown, black and white that seemed to make up the majority of the landscape. mostly green. As we rounded the first big bend in the river, the rain began to fall upon us and I stood in the front of the boat, and easily imagined that I was the first one ever to be there, though I knew it was not true. Many had been here before me, you just could not tell.

I stared all around me. A very large iguana sunned itself at the top of a tree. Looking for other iguanas in the treetops, I spotted a few monkeys, hunkered down and quiet and unmoving in the rain. All around me birds of every color and species imaginable flew and swam and dove. The rain did not last long. the trip continued.

Further downriver we encountered some of the natives, doing their laundry in the river, the soap a chum line of sorts to alert the crocodiles to where they were. Doing laundry there is dangerous work. A few of the natives were fishing as well, though not with fancy graphite flyrods and reels. Instead they outfished us with their hand lines and bait. We saw many of them with fish, who used nothing more than a piece of line and a hook. No reels, no rods, nothing but the knowledge of how to catch the fish where they lived.

We fished on down the river some more, and as expected, drew no strikes. I finally realized that sometimes it is best just to put the rod down and take in the wonder around me. I replaced the rod in my hand with a camera and went to work. On the way back up the river, I asked Cristofer to stop near where we spotted the monkeys and the iguana. The position was wrong for a photograph, however. As he pulled us over to the bank though, we scared three large iguanas from their places. I did not know what they were at first beating around in the bushes a mere foot and a half from my face, and have to admit I was a bit nervous until I finally spotted them.

We sat there and watched the monkeys, who were still pretty inactive and watched the huge iguana at the top of the tree. I admired the parrots that I saw in the trees everywhere. After I had had my fill, we continued on. A little ways up I was greeted with another rare sight, a Jesus Christ lizard, sitting alongside the water's edge. As we approached it so that I could get a picture of it, the bright green lizard with many adornments took off and proved why it is called what it is. Across the water it walked, and when it hit the land, it ran like a man on its back two legs. What an amazing sight.

Shortly after, as we motored upriver some more, I found myself lost in my thoughts and lost in the beauty of such a place. A noise rose above the din of the small motor and I looked to the sky to see where the jet airplane was. It sounded as if it had to be close. Cristofer smiled and shut the engine down. From his throat came some guttural noises, and they were greeted by the same sounds back from the tree. The howler monkeys were staring at us from their places in the trees. I was taught how to talk to them from the safety of our boat. The noise came again. I know now why they are called howler monkeys. What a haunting sound they make.

Past the lagoon we went and continued up river. I was adjusted well to the thought that this would be more of a sightseeing tour. The tarpon were not feeding, and I had only seen a few of them rolling, although they were big tarpon. A dead pig laid along the river, obviously a fresh victim of the mud that it was stuck in. The crocs had not yet found it and the first bird was finally making its way over to it. Indian huts lined the river in places. People's homes were found way out along the river, accessible only by the small wooden boats that they build themselves and totally rudimentary. There is no plumbing, no running water, and no electricity. It does not seem like a bad way to live.

Horses and cows, egrets, wild hogs, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, parrots and an assortment of other wildlife surrounded us. The jungle enveloped us. The river flowed beneath us. The wind blew, the rain fell and me?? I fell in love. The many canals, the lagoons, the deep dark muddy river with ghosts of its own like a river I have loved back home in FL have totally stolen my heart.

As we headed back in to the lagoon to get ready to depart, I found myself wondering what it would be like to live here. The thought will not leave my head. I wonder. The jungle has a way of letting you think.