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On a Wing and a Prayer: A Journey of Self-discovery on the Trail of Central American Wildlife

By Sarah Woods

Whilst author and intrepid traveller Sarah Woods set approximately studying the jungles of crucial and South the USA, her quest took her into essentially the most distant tangles of vine-knotted jungles in the world. In Panama's rain-soaked Chiriquí highlands, she navigated possible impassable trails with a machete to arrive quetzals with resplendent jewel-tone plumage.

Sarah sought the local knowledge of the indigenous Embera, deep within the Darien Jungle, so that it will come across the world's greatest and strongest birds of prey-the elusive harpy eagle. utilizing razor-sharp talons to seek and kill sloths and monkeys with lethal precision, those great, winged dinosaurs conceal a lesser-known, softer aspect: devoting nice care to elevating their younger for the 1st years in their lives. Seldom noticeable within the wild, Sarah struggled to demystify the fear-riddled legends and superstitions that earned the harpy eagle its identify from early explorers.

Her voyage taught her a lot in regards to the wealthy glories and captivating spectacle of the wildlife and in addition its demanding situations and risks. She met the albino “moon children” of Kuna Yala, swam within the Panama Canal, encountered left-wing guerrillas on the middle of Colombia's five-decade clash, and witnessed Amazonian ideals and customs surrounding shape-shifting and the jungle afterlife. Sarah survived landslides, crash landings, monstrous floods, and tradition clashes in mysterious untrodden lands, studying a lot approximately facets of herself from the remarkable natural world and tribal peoples she encountered-arguably her greatest trip.

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Extra resources for On a Wing and a Prayer: A Journey of Self-discovery on the Trail of Central American Wildlife

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A winged dragon with the top of a jaguar is assumed to tug its prey up a hill to eat it – it is because the Kuna and the Emberá humans consistently cross fast over the forest’s myth-steeped serrated ridges. both loathed are the one-armed beasts that experience a hook rather than a hand and tear out people’s hearts, and the Madre de Agua (water mother), who hides lower than whirlpools and pulls fishermen all the way down to their watery graves. A child-stealing witch referred to as l. a. Tuluvieja, a hideous hag who has a unmarried, sagging breast and hides her face with lengthy, straggly hair, is thought to take her sufferers again to a gloomy cave, spraying the path in the back of her with breast milk to make it too slippery to cross. Hernan issues to forested hill the place she used to be obvious, and that i experience the hairs at the again of our courses’ necks bristle. at the lightly sloping slog again to Mogue, the humidity is power sapping and we're pressured to trudge additional miles to prevent parasite-filled swamps that our publications worry will swallow us entire. At a criminal within the path, we cease to surprise at wispy white orchids and spot deep gashes on a tree bough strung with bromeliads. The marks are outdated and feature been gouged via the pointy, pointed claws and talons of an grownup harpy eagle in the course of years lengthy handed. * * * ‘Quick. Now. The tide, Sarita! ’ I hurriedly push my scattered assets into my pack and pull the zip tight. Our tidal window is final, so the dugout must go away now. quite a few mins may well depart us stranded. the entire villagers have grew to become out to bid us farewell, together with the trio of youngsters that has develop into my everlasting shadow. They gaggle jointly and hand me a harpy eagle naively carved from hardwood, and that i draw every one into my hands for a see you later cuddle. ahead of leaping into the boat, I hand out the final of my colouring books and crayons, and snap a couple of final images. notwithstanding we proportion no language and are available from very various worlds, we inhabit a similar planet. Their smiles will go back and forth for miles. The water is dangerously shallow as we pace alongside the river. The engine churns up the ankle-deep water and showers every thing with a sludgy spray. again at Punta Patiño, we take a final stroll to the butterfly-scattered wetland for a last rummage round the mangroves and reedy swimming pools for a capybara. The world’s greatest rodent is at its northernmost variety in Panama, a typical sight nuzzling one of the marshy plants. status virtually a metre tall, having a look like a move among a guinea pig and a hippo, it really is not easy to overlook – but I nearly deal with it. With little or no noise in any respect it strikes via swampland in the direction of me and turns out uncon­cerned by way of my presence. that's, till I choose to take a photograph and pull my digicam from my pack. That evening Hernan and that i toast our journey with a can every one of Malta del Baru, a fizzy molasses-flavoured drink named in honour of Panama’s volcano, as a rose-red sunlight starts off to plummet in a lilac sky. We mirror upon our journey, flicking via dozens of electronic photos, collapsing in laughter whilst the digicam reminds country hammock-invading huge frog and clean piles of puma crap.

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