*Disclaimer: I know all of my pictures here suck. The humidity wreaked havoc on our camera...
When most people imagine the Amazon Rainforest, they envision wide chocolate rivers, vast swathes of impenetrable jungle, raging hoards of insects and vibrantly coloured tree-frogs. At least, that’s what I expected before I travelled into the Bolivian jungle of Madidi National Park on a recent Semana Santa vacation.
Although we did encounter the expected hoards of insects, several deceptively attractively coloured tree frogs (“our helpful guide kept saying “you touch you die”) and the rivers were chocolate (to look at, not so much to the taste…), oddly enough, none of these remain the dominant memories of our trip. You know what stands out most? Mushrooms.
The fungi of the Amazon are fascinating. They are majestic, and I do employ that word unironically here! The mushrooms and fungi I encountered in the jungle compelled me to closely examine the subtle colors, unique shapes and fragile textures that they presented. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.
And they were everywhere! Mushrooms dotted the detritus of the damp forest floor. Fungi sprouted from every possible nook and cranny of fallen trees. They rooted themselves into living tree-bark. Everywhere!
Every jungle-hike we took morphed into an eager scavenger hunt for mushrooms. I circled trees in search of new species of fungi, pestering our guide with questions the whole way. On one night-hike, a patch of bioluminescent mushrooms glowed so clearly in the dark that I felt like I was the sci-fi world of Avatar rather than a place on earth!
I’m not sure our guide (or Dani for that matter) fully understood my mycological enthusiasm but, at least for now, when I think of the Amazon, one of the first things that will spring to mind will be….mushrooms!