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Published: January 10th 2009
I read about these weaver birds in NG, had no idea that I would ever get to see them!
In the morning we arrived with our bags--one packed for storage with all the things we would not need for the jungle. Such as knitting needles, a summer dress, or full bottles of shampoo, for example. The second bag held my mosquito tent, toothbrush, pants, headlamp, and an extra shirt. I wore my shorts and my other shirt. Underware did not end up mattering much, I ended up wearing my swimsuit for the entire trip. Not only was it more breathable, but I could peel my clothes off in front of anyone without batting an eye.
I had bought a pair of cheap Addidas Knock-offs in Rurre in one of the many stores lining the street to replace, at least for the jungle trip, my fading sneakers from home. The mesh was tearing, the soles were wearing thin and beginning to pull apart, but they were so comfortable and I loved them so dearly, which meant that I was holding on to them until they were nearly tatters. At some point in the future I knew that I would have to say goodbye, but goodbyes have never been easy for me no matter what shape or form they come in,
and I planned on burying them quietly along a trail when they finally did decide to expire. My new shoes were black, size 42 Euro, with strange circle style grip for the soles. I knew, as I pranced about indecisively in front of Jorend and Ido, that they would not be leaving with me when I returned. Our relationship was going to be short, and hopefully sweet as well.
We tossed our things in the locker, then sunk ourselves in the plastic couches to wait for Jorend who needed to exchange money at the bank before we left. As usual, there were hassles, and Jorend had to leave the bank, find internet to check and verify his account, before returning to the bank to withdraw. It took an hour, and by then we were figeting, anxious to begin our journey. We were not the only ones to wait. A group of four Israelie girls also went with us for the boat trip, only their time in the jungle was for two days since one of the girls was scared to be among insects and wildlife for too long. I raised my eyebrow and silently thanked God that I was
Renne raced after this little guy and caught him for us. He was so scared! Poor thing...
traveling alone and was not held back by people with different thoughts than myself. In many ways this was why I preffered to travel with men. Their nature was generally more of the adventurous type, with a flair for spontinaity and daring. I like these traits in people, admire them, and try to surround myself with insparational people.
We eventually loaded ourselves into a boat for a three-hour journey to the drop-off point. I situated myself on the packs piled in the center of the boat, having learned the pain of sitting in steel-backed lawn chairs installed in most of the boats. At one point as I left to make use of a local bathroom suring a stop at the ranger station, Ido, much to my annoyance, took my seat, and I was forced to sit in the back on a wood seat with no back support. I burned, not just from the sun, as I watched Ido snooze beneath the shaded portion of the boat. Undoubtably, it was going to be a long ten days.
Thirty minutes after the girls were dropped off, we arrived at a camp upstream on the River Beni.
We unloaded our
Setting Up Camp
This became a daily ritual.
backpacks and ten days worth of food and carried it into the jungle away from the water. A place was already cleared with wooden stakes thrust into the ground for our mosquito netting and tarps. Renne introduced us to the labor we would be involved in. Unrolling blue tarps--two for the ground, two for the roof--finding wooden sticks to hold out the edges of the tarp, much like giant tent pics, and sweeping away the leaves that lay over the hard ground.
I learned my first lesson that night about insects. Ido and I, as we had waited for Jorend to finish his banking, made a quick run to buy crosaunts. One of the best kept secrets of Rennebaque involves a Frenchman, a back alley by the Luna Bar, and a giant kiln oven. Every morning, early, crosaunts of all kinds are prepared along with keish and small pizzas. Most items cost 2 bolivianos, the most five, and Ido and I bought one of everything that morning. We did not finish everything, and of course I left the food in my backpack.
I woke in the morning to ants crawling across my face, tiny black ones that move
Food, glorious Food
Divying up food to be carried.
slow and bite hard. I gasped and rolled to a sitting position, realizing as I did so that the ants were crawling on the outside of the tent wall that had been near my face, not on me. My movement disturbed their work, and they boiled from my backpack in a frothy rage. Emberrasment and anger filled me. I kicked the backpack with my foot, unzipping the pockets carefully, and dumped everything onto the ground. For the next twenty minutes I shook and swatted everything in my pack, and finally my pack intself, trying to dislodge every unwelcome creature that had wanted to take my crosaunts.
And they had been chocolate filled.
Jorden and Ido called me for breakfast, but I ignored them, continuing to shake out my things. Renne finally came over, asked if I was ok, and put his hand on my shoulder. It was only then that I left my work. I ate breakfast quietly, listening to Ido and Jorden tell their jokes.
We then began our routine of packing, taking down our mosquito tents and tarps, and cleaning the area for who ever was to follow.
The expectations of the trip were
not clear in the beginning. Throughout our ten days we were both pleased and disapointed as events unfolded. One of our relizations was that the 150 pounds of food was to be parted equally between five backpacks. This was why they had told us to bring a large one. Being that no one had mentioned this to me, I had wondered if we were eating lightly, perhaps berries and roots from the jungle (which, I would have enjoyed for reasons of experience), or maybe Erica was packing most of it from camp to camp while we ambled about with Renne looking at butterflys.
As Erica pulled food from the blue sacks they had been carried in, I stared at the growing mound and realized that we were carrying it all on our backs. For ten days. In the hot sun. For several hous every day. I realized later that much room and weight would have been saved had things been repackaged. But no. We had cans of spam, jars of coffee, mustard, mayonese, ketchup in their plastic bottles, to name a few. Once packed, I staggered to my feet, feeling the weight of flour, sugar, canned food, and coffee
over my back.
With a wave and one last glance at the river that swirled thickly like milky chocolate, we turned towards the jungle and disapeared.
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