Friday, September 15, 2006

Sleeping With The Jaguar

Near the town of Pilcopata, Peru, I slept for four nights alone in a tent in the jungle.

By day, I watched bugs drill holes in the ground to catch other bugs, chased butterflies with my camera, swam in the river. At night, I fell asleep listening to the symphony of frogs, crickets, and the occasional caw-caw-caw of a bird calling in the dark.

Down by the river, I found some tracks that were distinctively feline in appearance, and bigger than a cat´s. Still, they didn't look all THAT big, so I didn't think too much about it. They simply looked like they belonged there, just as I for the moment belonged in the tent above the river.

After I returned to the village of Pilcopata, people told me about the jaguar that had been roaming the area I had been sleeping in. It had killed seven goats, and surprised a fisherman at night by the river.

I don´t know if the tracks I saw belonged to the jaguar, or one of its cousins. But I was glad that the people in the village told me this story after my four days and nights alone in the jungle. The human word is powerful, perhaps more powerful than jaguar tracks. If I had listened to the story beforehand, I might have lay awake at night and let fear interfere with the noises in the night. Instead, we simply left each other alone, I in my place and he in his.

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