|Wednesday 18th September- the first river trip
A final wave of expedition gear and personnel, including most of the Magplane heavy equipment and Allen, came from Riberalta to Puerto Araona. The stage was set for the fragmentation of the expedition into task oriented groups. Compton, Holly, Bob and the Museo Noel Kempff Mercado team of biology and botany students along with Tims children Peter and Erin and their friends Maria and Paulo, left by river for Palmasola with the river guides. They have been notified that the river will be to tough to navigate by Pilo who by now has made several trips to Palmasola. The river team encountered numerous difficulties as they traversed the river. Endless fallen tree obstacles and the extreme shallowness at some stretches required that the boat occupants get out and push the boats over the sandbars. The journey proves to be long and difficult after mechanical breakdowns and propeller damage related to the sandbars and the fallen logs cause many delays. Communication difficulties compound concern but all arrive safely after a 14-hour journey that normally takes 6 hours. In 1998, we were into the rainy season and the river runs were rapid and essentially obstacle free.
It is difficult to anticipate the dangers to a remote expedition like ICE2002. There were no attacks by dangerous animals, the only pirranha event was the team eating one and there was no encounter with any large snakes like those seen in 1998 (o26oo). However, native dangers like the alligator-like caiman and electric eels are always out there. Pilo dislplays one of the electric eels. These eels have thousands of electropaques (like cells in a battery) hooked in series to produce up to 500-650 volts. This is 5 times the voltage coming from a wall socket- sufficient to injure or kill a human. Beyond the reptiles and mammals that call the Bolivian rainforest home are the insects and microbes that are just as dangerous if not more so.