Nights the Darkest

By Tiara McCarty


The sound is deafening. Birds and bugs and frogs. Its 5am and they’ve just woken up. Buenos días. The tiny titi scramble across the roof. A jumble of Portuguese, Spanish and local indigenous float upstairs as our host family begins their day. Dark lines on the walls show where the river rose and flowed through. When the rains fell and the people left. Soon there will be no river and the people will come back and walk on la tierra firma once more.

Our host Titeleano takes us out to look for the famous delfines rosados. The canoe glides under a leg of a massive walking tree as phantom dinosaurs and giant birds stroll amongst the spiky ferns of the flooded forest.

“The dolphins like the American,” Titeleano refers to us by our nationality, our strange names can’t quite form in his mouth. Dolphins emerge and sigh within reach. We wait fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes for a sloth to decide to take a nap mid-descent. The baby black caiman struggles and leaping to freedom as we scream and scramble, it comes up short and spends the night in the bottom of the boat.

“It’s all a show,” our guide Segundo says pointing towards the kids changing into normal clothes. They had been painted and naked only minutes before. Posing for a peso.

After three days on el río it’s a wonder to be on dry land. Everything still rocking gently. Pepe the monkey pulls our hair and threatens to rip out our earrings. Princess, the 30 meter long anaconda, is passed shoulder to shoulder as cameras flash. Sloths smile blissfully from our laps. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything as serene and happy as a sloth. I don’t think I’ve felt anything as soft as tigrillo fur. Seen a sky so wide and blue, so many trees. It’s like Mother Nature threw her whole soul into the rainforest, all the colors the brightest, the trees the tallest, the noises the loudest. The nights the darkest.

We trudge through the pitch black forest in search of answers, or peace, or god. Where shadows move and grow and become bunnies in the insanity. This is our last night together. We sit in a circle in the small hut with the absurdly steep roof. It reaches out to the night sky as we reach into ourselves. Vaguely disappointed, resolving with the fact that it’s all over.

The impenetrable green becomes impenetrable white through the window. I’m home. The sound is deafening. Chickens and donkeys and dogs. Its 7p.m. and they’re just going to bed. Buenas noches.

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