We began our tour of the Amazon today! There was a couple from Oxford, England in our hostel that recommended a wonderful restaurant for breakfast that served “granola with mangos.”

Please say this out loud in your best British accent. It was very dreamy.

After breakfast, we boarded the land rover with two other solo female travelers: Monique from Madrid, Spain, and Deana from Cologne, Germany. Monique’s accent is beautiful. Deana however, did not make me want to visit Germany, as she kept saying she hates everything about it, and didn’t speak a lick of German during the whole three-day trip.

The jeep ride from Rurrenabaque to where we were staying in the Amazon was a painful three hours. The road was so bumpy, and the driver was going full speed. But the scenery was beautiful. Water buffalo, flamingos, and capybara dotted the landscape.

The driver was not very communicative though. He would randomly stop the car to get out and look around or drive back and forth in the same area. He was very spacy, and we never really knew what was going on. We made it to the Yacuma River in one piece though, and waited another hour for our guide, Jesús, who told us it would be another two hours by boat before we arrived at camp.

The jeep ride does not even compare to this float down the river. The motorized canoe took me to another world. I could have reached out and touched a caiman if it didn’t dive underwater every time we got close. We actually saw two caimans fighting!

My birdwatching mother would have been in heaven here, too. Jesús pointed out a bird that had just recently been discovered and has been dated back to prehistoric times. It really did look like a baby pterodactyl.

We passed another tour group that had monkeys crawling around their boat, and Jesús pulled up on the shore close to them so we could have a better look. The monkeys clambered away from our boat and went up the shore to the other group. I turned to Jesús very sad. He explained that it’s a common practice by other tour agencies to feed the animals, but that it’s not good for their health. I agreed but was a little sad that I would not be petting any monkeys.

After another 30 minutes of seeing the same animals, and every once and awhile, a pink dolphin, we pulled to the bank, and Jesús began making clicking noises.

All of a sudden, a swarm of capuchin monkeys dove into our boat and began crawling by my feet, up my arms, and sitting on my head. Jesús dangled a banana over our heads, and the monkeys would try to jump for it, sometimes falling in the water. The monkeys would wrap their little fingers around us to keep from falling.

They were so cute, and I know this is an experience I will never forget. I cried of happiness, and I definitely have a new favorite animal. (Jesús never actually fed them the banana, and eventually, they figured this out and left us.)

We got back to camp, unpacked, and climbed back into the boats to watch the sunset.

On the way back, we looked for glowing caiman eyes in the water, and Grace was all too eager to point them out for Jesús so that he could get as close as possible.

This was okay in daylight, but I didn’t dig seeing the glowing eyes disappear into the water and then feeling the boat get knocked by something.

I focused my eyes on the stars, and the others soon joined me. Jesús pointed out constellations and planets. We got to see Venus, Jupiter, the Milky Way, and a constellation that can only be seen in some countries in South America, “The Cross of the South.”

Jesús turned off the boats motor, and we sat there in silence watching the fireflies, wishing on a new shooting star every minute, and listening to the sounds of the Amazon Rainforest. This was a feeling unlike any other in the world. How someone could look up at these stars, and not believe in God is beyond me. He is here and powerful. This moment was so surreal and dreamlike that I find it hard to believe it even happened.

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