Amazonian River? What? I thought: “This is so scary! There are tarantulas, snakes and scorpions! Everything that I’m afraid of!”. But, I said yes to my friend on the phone. I was at the time in Nicaragua. I was scared of the next adventure that was coming, but at the same time, very excited. I didn’t say that to my friend, because I knew I would do it anyway.
There we go, on July 20th, 2018 I arrived to Bogóta in Columbia, where I met again with my French friend Cedric. We had a flight planned to get to Leticia the next day. Leticia is a small city in the middle of nowhere in the Amazonian Rain Forest. It is home of 3 borders: Brazil, Peru and Columbia. Pretty amazing to see 3 nationalities in this small place. People being all proud of where they are from; they wear they colors and flags everywhere they go. Leticia is a place where there is not much internet communication. We had hard time to find information about the place once we were there as we couldn’t google anything, by lack of internet services! It took us almost 3 days to figure out the route of where we wanted to go.
Once we finally knew where to go and to who to talk to, we got to experience 2 indigenous community lifestyles. We went to Santa Sofia to start, which was still in Columbia. We went tarantulas and scorpions searching at night. Believe me, I was so scared that I was fogging up my glasses. Finally, after the first day, I started to feel good about it. It was cool to search and take pictures of those beasts that I normally see only on TV.
Few days later we took a commercial boat to cross the Amazonia on the Amazonian River. 3 days and 3 nights. We had to stop to different indigenous communities on the way. Sometimes we had to wait an hour, which gave us plenty of time to observe around. This is where I got to see that little girl that I painted (represented with a pink top). She was so beautiful waiting in her little boat. I remember her getting out of the boat and playing with garbage that had ended up on the Amazonian River shore. She had nothing, no shoes, no sandals, no toys, but she looked happy. She really caught my attention, and this is why she appears in my Amazonian Collection Illustrations. This piece called: Niña de la Amazonia.
On this boat, we shared the boat with cows, chickens and all kind of vegetables that was heading to the Peruvian city: Iquitos. Here again, right in the middle of nowhere, a city. Accessible only by boat or plane. This trip on the boat was memorable even if it was absolutely not the type of comfort that I’m used to. Lets say, that things aren’t very wholesomeness, but it brings you back right to the basics in life and what you really need to live, survive. I really did appreciate those moments. We also made amazing friendships as well from different parts of the world. I remember the second day, waking up and looking on my right. There was that lady, sitting in her hammock facing this dirty, blue, old rusted wall of the boat. (Humidity is so high there, that everything get rusted in no time). She was there, just thinking, while everybody was already enjoying the 6AM Cumbia that was played very loudly on the boat and on the shore! Those people are really party animals! Anyway, I took a second to memorise this view I had of her. Another illustration came out of this inspiration. It is called: Amazonian Hammock, that you can see in this post.
Once in Iquitos, we went to our second indigenous community experience: Santa Rosa in the Peruvian Amazonia. This is where I got to see breathtaking environment and things! This is the most memorable moment of our adventure. We got to look for sloths, search for snakes, other tarantulas and scorpions in the middle of night. Have you ever heard this expression: pitch dark? Well, the jungle is so dense that the moon light doesn’t penetrate the Forest. It is so dark, that you can’t even see your nose. Very scary with all the noises you hear at night. Mind that once you light up a candle, you realise that you are surrounded of cockroaches. Another fear of mine! We also made hunting gears out of trees such as harpoons. Very interesting. Then we swam with pink dolphins and what we didn’t know was there also, an anaconda. THAT was scary! We got to hunt an iguana and cook it on the fire, and remember at night, the fire was surronded of cockroaches… We had to shower in little pot holes in the Forest and try not to get eaten alive by mosquitos. Those bugs are way bigger than our regular mosquitos that we find in North America and they are hungry! One of my favorite moment of this adventure was the midnight crocrodile hunting. As terrifying as it sounds, it was also amazingly beautiful. Yeah, beautiful! At night, the Amazon gets chilly, and on the river, it is even colder especially with something like 95% of humidity. The fog on the river is heavy, but when we get to see the sky… there is nothing more surprising. We think we can see lots of stars when we go out in the country away from the cities, but this is absolutly nothing compare to the chef d’oeuvre you can see up in the Amazonian sky. There are so many of them, that almost seem unrealistic. It was breathtaking, principaly when I was looking at the sky and the river at the same time. There were so many fireflies, again, it felt unreal, but magical. I couldn’t take any pictures as we were busy looking for crocrodiles, and we needed to be alert. However, I remember contempling this scene with amazement. This is why I needed to paint it. There we go, another illustration came alive in my Amazonian Collection that you can see in this post. It is called: La Caza Amazónica, which I dedicated to my adventure buddy, Cedric.
From this trip, I saw much more, but can only put in words so much. Using my digital painting skills/drawing to illustrate what I saw has been a good way to show my perspective of the Amazonia, but also taught people things about the Rain Forest that they had no clues existed. I cherished every moment in this part of the world and hope one day having the chance to go back again. Until then, I still have many illustrations to make. Just like the Amazonia, my inspiration is endless.
You can see more art at: mlarochelle.artstation.com
You like what you see? Don’t hesitate to share, leave a comment and contact me to get your illustrations done! 🙂