Meet Victor, Amazon guide extraordinaire.  Here he’s posing with a rainbow boa.

Victor hails from Puerto Maldonado, a sweltering jungle town on the confluence of the mighty Madre de Dios River and the Tambopata River.

You should see this guy work. He’s in the zone in the jungle.  Comfortable. Quiet. Relaxed. Picking up on every minute movement, sound, and reflection.

To watch a man so entirely in tune with his natural surroundings is a thing of beauty.

Once, while hiking, he stopped suddenly, sniffing the air.  What is it, we asked.  Pigs, he whispered. He could smell them. I looked everywhere.  No pigs to be found.

I walked right by that snake he’s holding.  She blended in perfectly with her surroundings, just another extension of jungle mass.

These guides work their asses off.  I noticed that in both Central and South America.

"Hello little baby." Is it poisonous? "Yes." Jesus, dude, put that thing down!

Inevitably, your guide will talk about how very rarely he’s able to spend quality time with his family.  Normally they have but 3, maybe 4 days off per month, and even then they’re wiped out and totally exhausted.

On our way back to Puerto Maldonado (a 3 to 4 hour boat ride on the Tambopata, depending on which way you’re headed), Victor was noticeably excited to spend a few hours with his family before he picked up the next tour group from the airport.  It was his daughter’s birthday.  She, like most girls in the area, demanded a clown.

I believe as travelers that we can help put an end to guides being torn away from their families for so long.  Their services are vastly useful.  Their time, valuable.  In the end, money talks.

By the way, Victor, if you’re reading this, we do remember that you asked us to send these photos to you for your Facebook page.  In fact, I’ll do that now.  After all, they are pretty killer shots.

And no, you’re not going to get me to hold those snakes.  Nice try, buddy.


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