I arrive in the middle of the night in the port city of Manaus, after a 10- hour flight from Miami. Love these ferry towns, full of rough-and-tumble Paul Bunyan types. After a rest, I take a boat down the Amazon, the wildest river in the world, to see the kinds of plants I'm using in my makeup palette. I spot orchids, zillions of palm trees, lily pads. Black vultures soar overhead, and pink river dolphins play in the water below. Raindrops as big as tablespoons start falling.
I meet all kinds of critters, like a marvelous poisonous spider. (I stay behind her when taking pictures because I've heard that spiders can't jump backward!) I also hang out with a monkey who is missing a leg. The ranger says it's because he lost a fight with an alligator. Doesn't slow him down one bit. The wildlife here is under threat from deforestation - the massive chopping down of trees - and conservationists are fighting to preserve the land.