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Having spent 3 months in South America, we had come across a veritable menagerie of animals. I thought it would be a good idea to share my favorite combinations of interesting creatures & interesting photographs.

Here are the top 10:

#10. Amazon Tree Frog

Nellu Mazilu, Amazon, tree frog

A cute little Amazonian tree frog, which secretes a neurotoxin when threatened.

#9. Amazon Stick Insect

Nellu Mazilu, Amazon, stick insect

I nearly walked past this little creature, mistaking it for a branch.

#8. Colombian Leaf Insect

Nellu Mazilu

I thought I had leaves stuck in the insect net of my hammock at El Cabo in Tayrona Park….. it wasn’t.

#7. Tarantulas (many of them)

Nellu Mazilu, tarantula,

The Amazon was full of them. This photo was the best of the lot, showing a tarantula hiding/guarding it’s nest in a palm tree hole.

#6. Butterflies….also many.

Nellu Mazilu, butterfly

One of many butterflies, but was the only one who stayed still long enough for a photo. I wish I could remember what kind it is….

#5. Giant Amazonian Moth

Nellu Mazilu, moth

Encountered a couple of giant moths feeding on some stale fruit during one of our night treks.

#4. Tractor Millipede

Nellu Mazilu

It’s fun watching them crawl all over you. No really.. it is.

#3) Weevil

Nellu Mazilu, weevils

Weevils wobble, but they don’t fall down. This one did….

#2. Spiders…. so, so many of them.

Nellu Mazilu, spider

Upside-down transparent, orange daddy long-legs?

#1) Praying Mantis

Nellu Mazilu, praying mantis

What’s more bad-ass than a mantis up close??

Click here to see all the candidates for the top 10.

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I’d like to introduce you to what we have come to call the Equalizer!

It may just look like a plastic tennis racket but it’s so much more. (See that lightning bolt in the center!). At the press of a button, an electric current flows through the thin metal strings. Swat it in the direction of a fly or mosquito and you can literally see and hear the bug getting zapped.

It’s even got a retractable plug so you can quickly recharge it and get right back to practicing your bug eliminating backhand.

How do you like me now, Mosquitos!

We were first introduced to the Equalizer at our pousada in Paraty. Our friends at the Casa Cool Beans in Rio also have one, although there are decidedly less mosquitos here. (But, I mean really, Rio is a city in a rainforest with some of the most remarkable beaches I’ve ever seen. It just wouldn’t be fair if they didn’t have mosquitos too.)

Nellu and I have tried to shoot a video of the Equalizer in action. (Think: Star Wars Kid on YouTube). But ever time we hit the record button, no dice. We’ll keep trying and post it as soon as we get it because you’ve really got to see it.

Mom and Dad, if we can find one of these a little closer to home on our South American trip, we’ll get you one as a thank-you-for-storing-our-stuff present!

~ Molly

Stuff. If you could hear the way I say it in my head, you’d know it’s meant to be a derogatory term.

Don’t get me wrong. I love stuff: great shoes, beautiful home decorations, thoughtful presents, those every day items that make modern life just a little bit easier.

It’s only when I have to move that stuff that I realize the honeymoon is over. Which of course is what happened when we packed up and moved out of our one bedroom NYC apartment so we could travel the world.

I know many of you are thinking how much stuff could you possibly fit in a one bedroom apartment. It’s definitely more than you think. All the items we had so artfully stored away in high closet shelves and under-the-bed organizers really came back to bite us. We even gave away a ton of stuff: clothes, kitchen items, random knick knacks, our couch and bed frame all went to Salvation Army.

The rest of our stuff is either in my parent’s basement or on our backs.

Most of our earthly possessions stored in my parents basement

And neither appears to be pared down at all.

We had always initially thought when packing for this trip, we would each bring a solid backpacker’s backpack and a front pack.

After determining that hardcore backpacker backpacks would a) cost more than our budget allowed and b) be way to small, we decided to go a different route. (I was an extra small in backpack sizes. Do you think I could have packed an extra small amount of stuff!?)

So we headed over to Kaufman’s Army and Navy on 42nd Street and bought standard army issue duffles for less than $40 each.

I did have to make some tough decisions on what clothes to leave behind but we managed to each pack just under 50 lbs worth of stuff (the weight our duffles need to stay under in order to avoid overweight baggage fees.)

Seemed like a good idea at the time. And most of the time it still is. Like right now when the bag is sitting on the floor in our room in Rio and my clothes are nicely stored away on shelves.

Again, like most stuff, it’s only when you have to move it that it becomes a problem.

For example, when we decided that we were tough enough to walk from our pousada in Paraty all the way to the bus station with all our gear on, I hated our stuff. Google Maps puts the distance at 2.5 km or about 1.5 miles.

Our walk to the bus station in Paraty, Brazil

I now fully understand why our hostess said we were breaking her heart when we told her we didn’t need a taxi because we ‘re walking.

Here’s a little video to commemorate the event:

See, even now, since I’m not moving my stuff, I love it again.  

~ Molly

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