Published: April 15th 2010April 15th 2010
More than three and a half months ago, I arrived in Peru with a large medicine bottle in tow, chock full of little round red pills, my malaria medication for the next four and a half months. As my time in the Amazon has passed, I’ve watched the amount of tablets steadily decrease; now, as I sit here preparing to take yet another dose, I’m amazed at the meager number of pills left in the bottle. I’ll be leaving the Amazon in about five days and, in commemoration of my experience, have created a list that is a pretty accurate summation of my time in the jungle. Without further ado…
MY MOST DIGNIFIED MOMENTS IN THE JUNGLE:
-Stepping directly on a wasps’ nest, being swarmed within seconds and, in my panic, proceeding to throw down the data book and radio tracker directly on to the nest before sprinting away into the jungle. It only took approximately two hours of bushwhacking to locate the spot again and retrieve the irreplaceable items.
-Brutally attacking a bullet ant after one too many close encounters. And by brutally attacking, I mean grinding the creature an inch into the ground by hitting it with
the radio tracker antennae after several failed attempts to furiously stomp him to death, all the while being awkwardly watched by fellow field assistants.
-Having too much pisco sour one night and letting myself be taped giving a five minute long rant on why I hate ants in the jungle and what I would like to do to them. I mentioned ants’ lack of respect for barriers several times.
-Leaping up from the dinner table in a frenzy, screaming and shaking my clothing vigorously after having had a bullet ant accidentally flicked onto my leg. (Notice a theme here?) Worst thing was, everyone just watched in amazed silence.
-After accidentally sitting on the can of mosquito repellant concealed in my backpack, I had a mild panic attack at the noise emitted as I thought it was some sort of large terrestrial animal (aka jaguar) headed directly for us. I continued to sit on the repellant, cluelessly, for about five minutes while nervously glancing around before I had the brilliant realization that it was coming from under my ass. My stupidity was rewarded with a nice thick layer of DEET coating all my belongings.
-Any of the
numerous times when I mistook rain/wind/howlers/insect repellant/[insert choice noun] for jaguars. Panic attacks ensued.
-Walking back to the cabins one night, Emma and I spotted three pairs of eyes crossing the soccer field. I promptly turned around and booked it back to camp, leaving Emma to her own defenses (she followed me). Arriving at camp, I began shouting, “Ocelots! There’s ocelots on the soccer field!!” Emma was closely behind and, in her state of frenzy only managed to get out, “Three eyes! Three eyes!” All the researchers rushed out to the soccer field, cameras in hand, excited to see the (potentially three-eyed) ocelot only to find…three deer. Still haven’t managed to live that one down.
-Too many botched attempts with the venom extractor.
-Being pooped on on the head by monkeys twice, one time while I was looking for their poo to collect. Oh, the irony.
-Mercilessly stomping a piece of bamboo to death for several minutes after one too many spikes lodged in the leg, only to have it immediately spring back up as soon as I move away.
-Frequent temper tantrums directed at mosquitoes/huge buzzing flies in which I scream, address the insects
as “Sir” for some odd reason, and proceed to tell them how rude and invasive they are. During this process, the others have come to realize it’s best to just leave me be for a few minutes until I feel I have adequately lectured the insects on their lack of manners.
-Mistaking a titi monkey for a saddleback. Not proud of this one.
-My nightly, semi-obsessive ritual of anally tucking in my mosquito net and checking every square inch of my bed for anything that may have managed to penetrate this seemingly impenetrable barrier.
-The fact that it is common knowledge among members of the Primates Peru team that appeasement with cookies is the best way to deal with my freak outs/frustration/exhaustion. Example: After losing the Jean 4 group for the umpteenth time one day, Erin wordlessly and hesitantly approached me, holding out a pack of cookies (that she had already opened) while making sure to keep her distance.
-Traumatized after seeing a snake drop from a tree between myself and Erin (I know, it’s not right), my brain clearly could not function correctly so I feel a bit justified in my misconception that the snake
was heading directly for me. Acting accordingly, I froze and yelled to Erin to save me. Good survival instincts on that one.
-This one goes for the whole team: getting into intensely heated verbal disagreements while playing the ultimate nerdy (and amazing) board game, Settlers of Katan. Denials of trade requests may have been interpreted as personal affronts.
-Going to the bathroom off of my porch every single morning because I’m just too lazy to walk the 15 feet to the toilets.
It’s been an amazing journey here in the Peruvian Amazon, and I am going to miss it more than words can express! I’ll be backpacking around Peru with my dad for the next month and will try to update the blog when I have access to computer/internet. Thanks for reading and Adios Amigos!