An orchid hunt can lead to confrontation

Trails are good things for walking. The problem is that a trail cut through the local foliage is likely to disappear very quickly unless used on a daily basis. But with so many different trails to chose from, how are you supposed to use each one every day, especially in the rainy season. 

So you will often find me stumbling along muttering, ìI think there was a trail here . . .  I know there was.î

Guided by the sound of the river, I pick my way through the undergrowth. Without the river, I would be totally lost (not that I can’t get lost anyway). So what am
I doing out here? Certainly not going for a Monday morning stroll. This would be more like a Monday morning stumble with all the rocks and stumps and tree branches. Nope, I am hunting, and my dogs are with me. They warn me of snakes and other scary things like tiny lizards.

There are a lot of downed trees and tree limbs out here, and some of them harbor orchids and bromeliads. I wear gloves and carry a large sack (which keeps getting hung up on or snagged by branches), a trowel, and a machete. All very necessary tools for removing things from rotted wood. The river’s roar is louder and suddenly the dogs take off in its direction barking up a storm, so I hurry to catch up.

They are on the bank and seem furious with something in the river . . . a tapir! And it’s a big fellow, a monster. It must weigh 500 pounds. Huge, and from the sound of its grunting, not at all happy with being barked at by my dogs, but standing its ground in a small pool. This must be the tapir whose footprints we have found in the garden, the one eating fallen fruit. Why didn’t I bring my camera?

Maybe it was just showing off, but the dogs, one a German shepherd, find their courage and jump into the river and right at the tapir. Does he run? Not this big guy. He gives a kind of bellow and jumps right back at them!

Well, you have never seen two dogs run away from something as fast as these two did. Run like mad, not over to poor defenseless me, waiting by the river, but run like mad in the direction of home leaving me all alone with a large angry tapir.

I freeze. Then, talking very quietly to this grunting monster who is giving me the evil eye, I start to back away into the trees. I keep moving away very slowly until I can no longer see him.

Back at the house, my dogs are waiting for me. They don’t look in the least ashamed of themselves and don’t seem troubled when I scowl at them in disgust. Me? I need a shower. Victoria Torley

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