Feeding piranhas---like snack time at the daycare center.


Cortica River, noon–I admit I don’t care much for the Amazon River. The water is brown and muddy, the fish ugly and dangerous. True, it’s got a nifty temple, but even that lacks the ghostly grandeur of Valka Castle or the Chamber of the Gods. It’s not a place I would choose to visit just for fun. But when I saw all the requests and treasure rumors stacking up in my t0-do list, I knew I couldn’t just ignore it. So I took a tour request to upper Cortica in the hopes of getting as much business done as possible. Elena is my client, and she wants to see a red-tailed chalceus, whatever that is. We start upstream just outside the temple, so thank God no piranhas, no caimans, no electric eels. There are hundreds of chalceus (chalceii?) just inside the temple—mission accomplished. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything else on my list, and going back to the boat sends us all the way back to Nineball Island.

Elena with Red-Tailed Chalceus

After collecting my pay from Elena, I doggedly return to the Amazon, this time with the full crew. The conservation society asked to find and pulse five nonnative fish on the river.  They won’t say anything other than that they’re big, so we’ll have to do a little searching to find out which ones don’t belong. Fortunately, the Atlantic Tarpon clearly look like out-of-towners, so they’re easy to spot. However, it takes pacifying piranhas, conquering caimans, and eluding eels to get them all.

Along the way, I find the place in the river that’s blocked by fallen trees. There seems to be a sizable chunk of unmapped territory beyond it, and so I go back to get Pha to clear it. Wouldn’t you know it—Pha doesn’t have the strength to move the logs because he’s a saltwater creature. What we need is a freshwater river dolphin. They’ve got plenty in the temple, but I haven’t befriended one yet—that will probably take more dolphin shows, more dealings with Finley, etc. And so Pha and I are left peering through the branches at a world just out of our grasp. Back at the boat, it’s raining buckets. Ah, let’s just get out of this godforsaken place!