30.03.2007 - 01.04.2007
Humid to the nth degree. Mosquito and insect ridden. No escape from the heat. Even when it's raining, which is always. This is the reality of the jungle that I had only heard and read about too much recently. And while a few months ago I was quite excited to take a hammock on a long boat ride down a river, I had reached the point where I no longer wanted anything to do with the jungle. I also remembered that riding on the water makes me more nauseous than 7 pisco sours and a round of cumbia so I'd probably be spending half my time puking my guts out anyways.
But as always, curiosity crept in. I still craved a little taste of the jungle. Even if it was just the Mickey Mouse version for a weekend. So I grabbed some fellow volunteer friends, my spanish teacher and her husband, and hired a bus driver to take us 2500m down to the fringe of the Amazon basin.
In those few days we never floated down the river or got too down and dirty but my version of the jungle was still a memorable place...
...where you were exposed to new levels of greenness and where everything around you felt as if it were alive and moving.
...where we spelunked our way around a cave whose entrance resembles a vagina. Local women who are unable to give birth come here to drink the water in hopes it will turn their fortunes around.
...where we made bonfires with the assistance of gasoline and plastic bottles. Why? Because the owner of the land we were on had a large machete and a stubborn attitude.
...where the rain was absolutely surreal. Never had I bore witness to such an intense and prolonged downpour. I just stood silently under a tree and watched in awe at the water crashing off the top of the bus. So simple yet such a marvelous natural spectacle.
...where some of the insects were strangely charming like this guy that was snatched out of midair.
...where jewelry will hunt you down no matter how remote you think you are.
...where if you look hard enough and hike far enough, you will be rewarded with a swim underneath the most serene waterfall ever.
...where you might stumble into native communities and listen to the beats of the jungle.
...where you can satisfy your appetite by eating rodents similar to this guy.
...where you have to push your bus out of the mud or push your friends out of the bus.
...where a morning walk in the hills might lead you to find an abandoned jaguar/bobcat cub...and bring it home, like the family we stayed with did.
...where the flora is composed of unique shapes and vibrant colours.
...where you have to cross rivers by swinging along cables and cover gaps by taking giant leaps.
...and where beneath its beautiful overcoat, I caught glimpses of its dark depths and realized that I prolly wouldn't make it out if I went much further or stayed much longer. Different people have their different habitats and while I'd like to think I can hack it anywhere, I am quite convinced the jungle would eat me alive. Kinda makes me want to go back now. After all...
"A man who has trod softly on the jungle floor has the blinkers pulled from his eyes. His lungs breathe purity and his mind is honed to right and wrong." - Richard Fowler, Trail of Feathers