National Geographic : 1989 May
canoes. It was unreal, like the light of a blue laser. I discovered that it came from huge, iridescent blue morpho butterflies whose mil lions of tiny scales flashed in the tropical sunlight. A day's journey from Canaima we stopped to visit Alexander Laime, a 75-year-old man who has lived alone for many years on a small island in the Carrao and who made an expedition to Auyan-tepui in 1955. Alexander has cleared an area of jungle on his island for a garden featuring bananas, manioc, potatoes, pumpkins, and mangoes. He lives in a palm-thatched wooden hut that he built himself. Beside the door hangs a plumb bob on a string by which Alexander keeps track of the damage from termites that continually devour his hut. At the time of our visit the plumb bob indicated an alarming tilt to the hut, suggesting it was time once again for Alexander to rebuild. Alexander is a keen student of wildlife on the tepuis, and he in sists that on his 1955 expedition to Auyan he encountered three dinosaur-like lizards. Over tea in a corner of his garden he told us he had come upon them while searching for diamonds in one of the rivers on top of Auyan-tepui.