The boat trip we made from Iquitos to the Lodge site, reminded me of the many
excursions I have made over the years, exploring the wetlands of the
everglades. There are a great number of plants found in the tropical areas of
Florida which are also located in the Amazon. As you go further back into the
forested areas, the vegetation changes and only your guide can explain how the plants are used
by the Indians and what their medical significance might be. It
has been said that this area contains the largest drug store in the world; and that we are
burning it down without even knowing what value it might
have for the human race.
The mist rises in the morning from the heavy
vegetation. The smell of the jungle is not offensive but is rather like being in a
giant oxygen tent. You can feel the rich scent in the air and
there is a feeling of well being.
Above is a view of the Yanayacu river at dawn, a tributary leading into the
Remoteness from civilization will affect each person in a different way. Living for
even a short period of time in the Amazon, will allow you to look at what is really
important in your life. This area is much like it was at the
beginning of time. It is still almost untouched by man. You can love this
experience of being in a jungle, or you can hate it. If you ever made this
trip, it would give you a chance to look into your inner self.
I can assure you that spending a few days in this remote area is certainly less expensive
than therapy; and the results do not take a year of your doctors time, for analyses.
When the trip is over and you have seen how the Indians live,
you will have a different outlook on the necessities of life. It is easy to
realize how our fore-fathers must have felt when they first saw the new world.
Mornings in the rainforest are
usually devoted to staying inside where there is, at least, a roof over your head.
When the mist of the morning clears, the rain begins with a predictable
frequency. It usually stops in early morning and this leaves the rest of the day
open for exploration.
The Amazon lodge has a primitive dock, which is in keeping with the location.
The welcoming committee was composed of, two Indians from the rainforest and
Negra. He is a spider monkey and one of the lodge mascots. The
lodge is located on the Yanayacu river.
After this long trip by boat, and as we were slowly coming to a stop at the dock,
our guide said,
" RAN OUT OF GAS",
Of course he was joking but the thought did occur to me, quite often, that
there was certainly no way to get help here, in this remote region, if something did go
wrong. For possibly the first time in my life, the thought of not being able
to pick up the phone and call for help can make you realize what people living here, are
faced with every day.
The construction of the Amazon Lodge
by Gilberto is a monumental effort. It is literally carved out of the Jungle.
There are few individuals I have met, in my life, who have the abilities necessary to
overcome all of the many obstacles presented in a project of this size and located so
far from civilization.
architectural interest are the construction methods used in erecting these
buildings. Believe me when I say that this building site is not for everyone.
I have worked in areas outside of the United States where I thought there were many
hardships. However, looking at what has been done here with little more than a
machete, a shovel and a hammer, is a lesson in humility.
First and foremost there is flooding every year so
the floors are elevated at least ten feet above the ground.
Then, there is the insistent rain,
accompanied by heat and insects. All of the materials used in construction are
home-grown as transportation from Iquitos, which is the nearest city, is very difficult.
Everything must be brought in by boat. In the selection of the
roofing materials, two different types of palm leaves are available. There is
one palm used for roofing which has a life expectancy of five years and another palm that
can be expected to last seven years. All this has to be considered when building,
but... then guarantees for durability are not being given out by the Indians at the local
area jungle site.
No classes are being taught, to
the architects of today, which would prepare any one of them,
to take on a roofing project such as is shown in this picture. Every
roof built in the jungle is constructed with similar details. They do not use nails
and most of the materials are a combination of branches from the local trees, various
types of palm fronds,.. and finally the vines, which tie it all
together. Flooring is made of wood planking. The surface is rough cut
In the early days of America, an adz was used to shape the lumber. This tool
is unknown to these people. Machetes take its place in construction, and this
long knife is used on a daily basis for almost everything from path-clearing to the
preparation of meals. Glass is never used in window openings, insect
netting takes its place. Roof members are elevated from the floors with enough
clearance so that this screening can be placed at ceiling height. We were as
comfortable as possible with this system in place, so it does work very well. Water
in the shower is from the river and while it has a brown color and seems cold at
first, it is a welcome change from the heat of the day.
The above picture shows the roof at the gabled end of
the main passageway.
Below is a montage of views of the Lodge and its mascots
Poncho, the Woolly
Monkey..........is the star of the Lodge, performing various duties. He is on the
welcoming committee for all arriving guests. He is the concierge during cocktail
time and acts as a food taster, when permitted at mealtime. He loves packaged
handouts with a special desire for dried fruits, but he will politely return a cashew nut
uneaten, when it is offered.