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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

A Quintessential Afternoon on the Amazon

December 2nd, 2013 · No Comments

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After trudging through the jungle in the morning, we not only had it much easier in the afternoon but we also had the quintessential Amazonian experience. That’s five experiences, appropriately because the word quintessential comes from the Latin phrase for the “fifth essence” after water, earth, air, and fire, all of which we experienced either literally or figuratively in the Amazon basin.

The Amazon is the biggest river in the world, so we saw a lot of water. We left the ship moored on the river and in bright sunshine took a skiff up a shallow creek through the rainforest.

A Great Egret Rises into the Air Right in Front of Me

A Great Egret Rises into the Air Right in Front of Me

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Great Egrets are some of my favorite birds, and I have seen them everywhere from California to Florida. I appreciate hawks too, but had never seen a Great Black-hawk before.

A Great Black-hawk, a Tree, and Sky

A Great Black-hawk, a Tree, and Sky

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I had never seen any jacamars before either, much less a pair of the species that we say have white ears.

A Pair of White-eared Jacamars in the Forest along the Creek

A Pair of White-eared Jacamars in the Forest along the Creek

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Squirrel Monkeys Like this One Live in the Canopy of Tropical Central and South American Forests

Squirrel Monkeys Like this One Live in the Canopy of Tropical Central and South American Forests

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As the day ended we waited until sunset to leave the creek and take the skiff back to the ship.

Fire in the Sky

Fire in the Sky

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But what exactly is the fifth element, the quintessential one? To my mind it can only be the experience of nature’s beauty. As the great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky once wrote, “The world will be saved by beauty.”

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