I mentioned freshwater pink dolphins in my previous post. I should say something else about them and their position in local lore.
At least some of the local tribes here in the Peruvian Amazon regard them as thoroughly evil. How so? Evidently, pink dolphins will occasionally transform themselves into very attractive male humans and use their looks and their dolphin charm to seduce human females. (Some say that they have this ability because they were once human themselves.) But there is a way of detecting when a stranger is actually a shape-shifting pink dolphin: He retains the blow hole at the top of his head. He’ll try to hide it by wearing a hat, though, so a curious investigator must somehow get a suspicious stranger to uncover his head. Then you can tell by inspection.
It’s not just the water, however, that offers such menacing creatures.
Thick jungles such as those surrounding us here are very easy to become lost in. And matters aren’t helped much by the fact that the rainforest is inhabited by goblins.
These goblins love to lure hunters to their deaths in the jungle. They do so by appearing in the guise of the hunter’s brother or best friend. “Follow me!” they’ll say. “I know where there’s excellent hunting.”
The goblin will lead the hunter on for five hours or more, although the time will only seem five minutes to the enchanted victim. Suddenly, the “friend” or “brother” will vanish, and the deluded hunter will look around him, only to find that the supposed paths that he had followed have all vanished and that he’s completely alone in entirely foreign territory with essentially no means of finding his way back to his home.
How can one protect oneself against such goblins? They always have a limp. If you ask them about it, they’ll respond that they’ve twisted their ankle or that they were injured by a rock, or something of that sort. But the limp is a dead giveaway. You shouldn’t follow limping hunters in the rainforest.
I’m relying for all of this on our extremely good local guide, himself a member of one of the indigenous tribes. He grew up in a jungle village, roughly 125 to 150 miles upriver from Iquitos, and goes by the improbable (but evidently genuine) name of Percy. I recommend him very highly. His knowledge of local flora and fauna and of local lifeways has been quite impressive. He works for the company that manages Ceiba Tops Lodge, which is (I believe) called Explorama.
Written in the Peruvian Amazon
Posted from Cusco, Peru