January 7, 2020
This morning I bid adieu to Susanne, Andreas, Lara, and Luis.
I spent much of the day getting ready for the next four days, first by meeting with the five local guides, amongst whom I would divide up my 33 friends, roughly according their interests. All of the guides are awesome naturalists, brimming with knowledge about the Amazon rainforest and biology in general, and they all speak English. But I hadn’t been with most of them in the field for any length of time, so I wanted to hear from them what their strengths were, and I wanted them to be mentally prepared for the onslaught they were about to experience. I knew they’d have fun with probably the most engaged group of tourists they’ve ever guided at Cristalino. There were enough decided non-birders to make one group, and I gave them to Jessica #1, as they will want to see a bit of everything (including the big, obvious birds). There were to be two groups of very avid birders, so one would go with Sidnei, the only one of the guides who actually studied birds for his degree and who would consider himself a birder. The other group of birders would go with a combination of Rafael, who is learning birds (and like all the guides knows the most obvious and commons ones, which means hundreds) and Francisco, the most senior guide at Cristalino who knows all the voices but doesn’t speak English. The remaining two groups would go with Jessica #2, who studied herps, and Gilmar, a very enthusiastic naturalist, and they all want to see birds, mammals, and everything else. Making all these decisions was a bit agonizing, and in the end, I knew everyone would be in charge of their own happiness. Nothing to worry about.
Then right at 4:49 p.m., they all arrived – four boats full, and I was so happy. Somehow I got photos of only three of the boats.