A novel by
Peter J. Ponzo
The river looked like a giant septic system, a familiar shade of brown. I stood at the grassy edge, peered through the morning haze and watched the beast standing stiff-legged on the far shore, rocking from foot to foot, its great square head swaying low to the ground. Charles wasn't frightened, not exactly, but the jaguar was enormous.
"Don't worry Miss Fleetsmith," he whispered confidently, his hand shading his eyes from the hot sun, "it won't cross the river. Cats don't like water."
I knew better, having spent months in the university library studying the flora and fauna of the Amazon, the most diversified ecosystem on the face of the earth. Nine hundred species of birds filled the skies. Two thousand species of fish swam among the tree branches during the six month rainy season when the Amazon Basin was under as much as fifty feet of water, the Amazon flooding its banks thirty miles to either side of the river. This gargantuan river, named Amazonas by a Spanish explorer (when they thought they saw a band of female warriors), began its 3900 mile journey to the Atlantic from the Andes mountains of Peru, through six countries, draining a basin almost the size of the United States.