Monday, January 19, 2009

Amazon Day 2: All Jungled Out

Exerpts from Shirley´s Jungle Journal - Friday 01/16/09

Today has been a day filled with mixed emotions. It´s probably due to a certain luteal phase that I´m going through. Upon taking my shower today, I noticed that 1) the water is cold & 2) it´s not clear. The toilet water is the worst, and I´m definitely NOT brushing my teeth with the sink water. I´ll be filling up my water bottle with filtered water from the mess-hall.

Today we took a long walk through the jungle. Again we needed to use our boots because of the crazy jungle slush. I thought about Qori while on our hike. He would like walking through this jungle... then I thought about it some more....maybe not. The red ants could bite his sensitive toes and I would just be stressed for the entire walk. It was better that I was not sharing this walk with him.

We were on our way to visit a tribe. We reached a small river and got on a different canoe. Our guide, Leo, said it was called the Titanic 4 (because the first three sank). I hoped he was just joking. Looking at the canoe, it was apparent that it had been ¨refurbished¨. As we were reaching our destination, we noticed that the canoe had significantly filled with water. Leo focused our attention to the large seeds floating near our canoe that are used to make jewelry. At hearing this my mother in-law and I started trying to collect as many as we could reach from the canoe. Suddenly, I heard a ¨Plunk!¨ and I wondered what that noise was for a split second....

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! My beloved digital camera had fallen into the murky water that had seeped into the boat and the only sign of it was the small bubbles that were being created as the pouch it was in was filling with water!!! I stuck my hand in the water and searched for my beloved camera and out came a sorry looking camera. I immediately removed it from the pouch, but it was evident that I was too late... It was soaked. I did everything I could. I took the battery, memory, everything out. I tried to dry it. I shook it a little. Within the next few minutes I tried to turn it on. A blurry image of Sara (she was in front of me) filled the screen. I was amazed that it even worked. But then, BLACK, and it died. I immediately thought that those seeds were going to have been the most expensive jewelry I had ever created for how much it cost me.

Needless to say, I was no longer in a good mood when I reached the tribespeople. I tried my best, but I felt like I had lost a loved one.

We sat down inside of a hut where the tribespeople painted our faces with red paint that came from the seeds of a plant. The bench that Javier and Pierre (the 2 chubs) were sitting on broke and they fell onto the floor. I laughed, but it was a hollow laugh. Then one by one the half naked tribespeople took us out of the hut for a tribal dance. Then we tried our marksmanship out with their dart thrower thingy. And finally, they tried to sell us their artifacts. We bought stuff and left.

As soon as we reached the lodge, I laid my deceased beloved camera out in the sun in hopes that it would resuscitate. I would not try to turn it back on until it was completely dry. Unfortunately, drying did not go as quickly as I had hoped.

Before I knew it, we were off to our next excursion, sans my camera. It was OK though, we would just use Mac´s camera. We were on our way to an animal rehabilitation area. As soon as we reached land again, I saw animals! Monkeys, Toucans, these anteater/bear looking animals, cayman, etc,. And all the animals were friendly enough to hold! I was in heaven!

And the excursions weren´t over just yet! Our next excursion was to swim with the dolphins. The supposedly pink and gray dolphins. Unfortunately, I would not be able to swim today... the whole luteal thing. We stopped our flimsy boat in the middle of the Amazon river (the wider/deeper part) and began whistling for dolphins.

This is when Javier noted that with his weight and position on the flimsy boat, he could mess around and give us a scare. From one side of the boat, he yelled, ¨Look! Look at the dolphin!¨and threw his weight to the other side of the boat. This caused the boat to feel like it was going to flip over and the whole ¨Tarantula¨ group screamed for their lives! He continued dicking around like this many times over and I was in no mood for it. I had had enough electronic equipment get wet for one day, but most of all I was extremely tense. One of my biggest fears is falling into deep dark water, whether falling from a bridge or a boat, it doesn´t matter. It´s almost like a phobia, and seeing the joy in his face as he toyed with my emotions, pissed me the hell off.

My mother in-law, who doesn´t know how to swim, was so frightened that she decided to put on a life-jacket which, as she zipped it on, Sara screamed and told her there was a spider on it.

True enough there was a spider the size of a medium cookie standing right on the life jacket she was wearing. When my mother in-law saw it, she screamed with all fury and threw the life jacket down in front of me on the boat. That´s when all hell broke loose. Everyone was screaming, ¨Ahhhhhhhh!!!!!! kill it! kill it!¨ My mother in-law was stomping so hard and screaming, the boat was rocking like crazy, I felt like we were about to tip over... In the madness my screams were lost, ¨Señora! Señora the boat is tipping over.... stop stomping!!!!!!!!¨ But nobody could hear anyone else. Each person was in their own mini terror movie and we were all screaming for our lives. Somehow I know Javier found the whole thing amusing.

And in the end we didn´t see any dolphins... just trunkophins. I´m still skeptical about the whole pink dolphin thing if you can´t tell.

To make it up, on the way back there was the most beautiful Amazonian sunset. I admired it while on the boat, breathing in the jungle air, feeling the wind against my face.... and something else on my face........ DAMN! A mosquito bite just under my right eye. I could tell just by feeling it that my eye was pretty swollen. This sucks!

That night the Tarantula group was supposed to do a night jungle walk. It´s one thing to read it on your itinerary, and another thing when you are actually there. The short of it is that out of all of us, only Sergio the Spaniard went. This night, I noted a significant increase in nighttime bugs. They were everywhere! The mess-hall seemed to be infested with cockroaches, crickets, and grasshoppers while we tried to eat our dinner. It was by far the worst night in the jungle. Even our room was infested. And it scared me because I don´t know how they even got in. That saying, ¨Crawl out of the woodwork¨ was soooo true in this case. I tried to grab the kerosene lamp that I had left in the bathroom and when I lifted it there were bugs hiding underneath it... Then a grasshopper or cricket jumped on my hand that was holding the lamp. And I thought I saw a mosquito in the bathroom. I was through. I didn´t know what to do. I doused myself in a eucalyptus spray insect repellant and slept under a bedsheet this time. I covered my entire body and head under the blanket. I was dying of asfixation due to the eucalyptus spray under the sheet. But I was torn: Asfixation vs. Bugs. I chose asfixation.

The one cool thing I saw was a lightning bug. I had never seen one before. It seemed to have two greenish lights on its back, then suddenly its whole lower body shined red. I had no idea that they produced different colored light. That was the only cool bug. At this point, I was all jungled out. If you would have asked me at that moment, I would have told you that this was it for me... no more jungles. From now on, my vacations would purely consist of beaches, pools, and tropical drinks.