Iquitos Manatee Refuge Center and Fundo Pedrito Paiche Farm (26 April 2015)

(Kindly forgive me. I have not been faithfully keeping up with my self appointed blog duties. I do not have the skills to determine who is actually interested or following along. I apologize to those few of you who may be disappointed due to my lack of diligence. I have some catching up to do.

Thank you for your continued interest as I report my impressions of my wanderings.

Know, this above all… it is the people that I meet,  some of whom become good friends, and who I am privileged to  know, that are the most wonderful and meaningful part of my entire Life’s journey.)

P1170604Above: (mostly) Peruvian tourists interacting with Amazon manatees

A twenty-five minute mototaxi ride from Iquitos’ Plaza de Armas, on the road to Nauta is  the manatee refuge. This place is supported mostly by tourist entree fees and other donations.  It is a local effort. Management decisions are made by board members of the foundation.

It was a bit of a surprise to me to learn that there are manatees in the Amazon. It makes sense that there would be, but being a non-local and visitor one does not give it much thought. The reality is that this region of the Amazon basin truly is home to amongst the largest variety of living creatures, both plant and animal on our planet.  Iquitos lies merely 3.75 degrees S. of the equator directly adjacent to the world’s largest drainage basin.  All the water that falls on the Eastern slopes of the Andes, that is not evaporated along the way become rivulets, streams, and eventually rivers… which eventually converge into the mighty Amazon.

One fifth of the planet’s fresh water is continually being recycled, molecules transforming themselves into:  vapor (evaporation), cloud formations, highland jungle plant evening/morning condensation, and rain… then the force of gravity causes the then liquid water to be drawn continually ever toward lower elevations where it collects to become rivulets, streams, waterfalls, and rivers.

And all this in a latitude where water never freezes and snow does not fall, and where the sunlight, which shines, either on the terrain below or on the upper surface of clouds,  has done so seven days a week, 365 days a year, for thousands of years.

Most plant life on our planet requires only a few conditions to flourish… water, minerals and sunlight. Some plants are terrestrial other plants are aquatic.  The Amazon provides the perfect environment for all kinds of plants to grow, and thrive.

Plants are amazing. Photosynthesis is nothing short of a miracle. Seeds ‘know’ exactly what to ‘do’… given the proper conditions.  Even before photosynthesis takes over, seeds send their tiny tendrils into the soil, and some towards the sun.  The first roots form using the energy contained in the seed itself, then they begin to absorb the minerals contained in the soil from which the plant continues to build it’s body. The first miniscule leave parts are also formed using the seed’s own energy… then the miracle of photosynthesis takes over. Sunlight powers the process by which carbon dioxide from the air is processed into usable molecules beneficial for the plants growth… and oxygen is released into the air as part of the plant’s ‘respiration’ process.

Plants preceded animal Life. Most all animals derive their energy, second hand… from the energy contained in the plants. No one can say for certain exactly how all this happened, but we know that it did. No one can say with any certainty how all these intricately interwoven Life Processes came to be. We only know that they did and that we are somehow connected to this chain of Life. We are part of it all.

Manatees are vegetarians and eat only aquatic plants.

I do not care to engage in an argument or debate about whether there is/was an ‘Author’ or an ‘Original Inventor’… or whether these processes are part of an Infinitely Eternal, ever changing, simultaneously occurring, ever interrelated, series of events.

It seems to me, enough, to simply Be amazed at the incomprehensible complexity of it and to Be  grateful that I have the capacity to recognize (Be Conscious Of) a tiny glimmer of it.  I think of ‘worship’ as a state of Being in which I reflect back to this Allness, my ‘applause’…  Oh, the beauty of it All ! How mysterious and how truly ‘wonder’ full.

It further seems to me that Life is in the diversity business, not in the ‘one size fits all’ business.  Earth is a large Natural laboratory that never ceases to spin out experiment (Living art forms) after experiment. They rise up,  they exist for a time, they alter and adapt to changes in the environment,  they are superseded by other Living art forms and on and on it goes.  Life seems to extend itself to the limits of it’s ability to adapt.  There is an interplay between the ‘environment’…  (I call it the Ground of Being)  and each Living art form.  Symbiotic relationships extend into ever more diverse environments. Life desires to… Live… and to reproduce itself into as many nooks and crannies and ‘niches’ as possible.

Manatees have a place in all this and Humans do well to notice that all Life is interconnected and that the desire to protect the Life of any Living creature is to stand for the protection of Life itself.  That is what (to me) is the take away message of the manatee refuge and the Fundo Pedrito paiche farm.

Late April of 2015 the water of the Ucayali, Huallaga,  Maranon, and Amazon rivers were in extreme flood stage.  There were emergency tents set up along the roadway for about a mile on the road from Iquitos center to Bellavista/Nanay docks.  The market of Bellavista/Nanay and hundreds of homes and storefronts were flooded.  Makeshift wooden walkways were hastily set up for people to get to the dock, tie-up, area for public transport boats. The waterways are the equivalent of streets in this area.

Many people live in areas close to Iquitos, but need to board a small transport  boat, the riverine equivalent of a taxi/van/ bus to get to their village or home.

Negotiating the narrow one plank wide walkway before boarding a small (peke peke powered) wooden boat is what it took to visit Fundo Pedrito Paiche farm and tourist attraction.

Paiche are a species of very large, very good eating fish that live wild in the rivers of the Amazon basin and are now farmed (aquaculture) as well.

Video of feeding paiche at Fundo Pedrito: