Amaz-ing Amazon Trip Filled with Memorable Moments
Floating stealthily in two small open boats after dark with giant spotlights, paddling up a small tributary of the Amazon to see three-toed sloths and a variety of snakes moving slowly through the trees above …catching the gleam of eight eyes belonging to a fishing spider or a tarantula, on a tree trunk just above the waterline…
All of this and much more were the experiences of science teachers Tom and Martha Friedlander and Jim Lupton as they accompanied 15 students this past summer to the Peruvian Amazon.
“It was truly the trip of a lifetime,” says Martha Friedlander.
Other highlights included hiking through the jungle, crossing a swinging walkway built into rain forest canopy rising in segments to a total of 120 feet above the ground and helping out in a nearby village. But for Hanna Anderson ’12, the nighttime boat trips were the most memorable.
“In the evening, we would gather into two boats and sit two-by-two with our guides,” she explains. “We would paddle noiselessly into a narrow branch of the river, where we saw giant tarantulas hiding on tree trunks and Kingfisher birds perched on twigs close enough for us to touch. We saw tree frogs, spiders fishing for prey, lily pads six feet across, and the occasional snake coiled up in the branches directly above our heads. We even saw a colony of leafcutter ants traveling rapidly across the forest floor. On the way back, our guide would snatch a butterfly from a tree and show us how it looked just like an owl when its wings were spread. We would arrive back at the lodge excited and amazed at what we had seen.”
The Greenhills group stayed in lodges that were built on stilts (to stay dry even in the high-water season) and covered with steeply-pitched palm thatch, the walls of the rooms falling short of the thatched roof (so that air circulation on hot, steamy nights could be maximized), which allowed for forest roaches, tree frogs, and giant katydids to come visiting. The latrines and outdoor shower houses sometimes had bats flying overhead, and every night the group slept with insect netting covering the beds. In the afternoon they would take siestas on large covered porches with a dozen or more hammocks suspended from the rafters.
It was the lodge life that Chandler Dorris ’12 most enjoyed.
“The hammock room was great,” Chandler says. “We spent most of our free time swinging lazily in the hammocks and playing games. In the lounge we played card games and listened to live music. Our days were very busy and full of new and exciting things every moment.”
Trip participants included Michelle Canning ’10, Emily Hoff, Katie Long, and Joe Starr (12th grade), Hanna Anderson, Chandler Dorris, Jill Hakim, Olivia Post, Cameron Talbot, Alex Tirtha, and Emily Zubieta (11th grade), and Katy Butler, Caleb Nusbaum, Lalitha Ramaswamy, and Patricia Simmer (10th grade).