Friday, January 25, 2013

Welcome to the Jungle! 1/21/2012

(Ryan L.) We woke up at 5 AM to get an early start to the jungle. We were headed to a small village called Shiwakocha. During the bus ride the change in temperature became more and more appearant. By the time the bus finally stopped, I was covered in sweat. We started our trek by crossing a large river. I quickly realized wearing no boots was a bad idea. The rocks slipped beneath my feet as I struggled to find my bearing. We grapped each other by the shoulder to find leverage through the rapid current. Fast forward two hours later and we are really deep in the amazon. To describe the Amazon as green would be a drastic understatement. It is ALIVE in every sense of the word. Between the trees, canopies, humidity, bugs, and heat, your are uncertain where your attention should be directed. The humidity was something I never got use to. I felt like I was trapped in a buuble of hot steam. The actual hike was intense. It lasted about 4 hours, and when we finally started seeing signs of civilization (huts & farms) I could not have been more relieved. We were all warmly welcomed by the people of Shiwakocha with cinnamon tea and bananas. We ended the day with a much needed swim in the local river. It felt so refreshing to my overheated body. I think the river lifted all of our tired spirits.

That night was an interesting experience. We all slept near each other in mosquito netted areas. I was exhausted, so falling asleep was easy. But sometime during the night I was awaken by a wing flapping near my face. I quickly realized bats were over head. I could hear them chirping. I could hear the insects humming, and not too far away I could hear the monkeys screaching. This was the real deal. Some people pay to have these noises in their bedroom so they can sleep at night, I was really there. I awoke the next morning with the sun. I laid there for a while wondering if I had dreamt the previous day. Breakfast was fried plaintians, served with yucca and rice. We spent the afternoon foreaging for peanuts, peppers, and cacao. Before lunch we prepared the cacao by splitting open the hard outer shell, sucking out the juice, and using our teeth to open the inner shell.

(Missy M.) All of our meals had included a cup of tea. When I say a cup, a bowl would probably be more appropiate. Shapes ranging from a pear, to a small gord, to a bowl that covered my face- all decorated with carvings and intricate designs. To start we had to collect pilches, a green fruit about the size of a mango. About five of the older local men sat and sawed the fruit in half, the women then showed us how to scrape the fruit out and boil the half dome shaped shells. After about 3 days, the bowls would be dry, brown, and ready to use. In the meantime we had a chnace to bathe. All half dressed were bathing in the amazon: how could anyone forget Gringos using biodegradable shampoo. All squeaky clean we ran from the sand flies. In the sanctuary of our hald open wooden house we had dinner with some traditional dance. The women gracefully whipped their hair at the men, who circled playing a drum. When it was our chance to dance, the women looked more like bull charging prey, while simultaneously whipping their hair back and forth, as if it was on fire.

After accepting our inability to dance in an acceptable manner, we went to cool off in the river and go fishing. We went to the river armed with nets and headlights. The brave men went into the deep tides, holding the net on both sides while the rest of us either sat in the canoe, or stumbled along the rocks. The night was magical, the moon was bright, the clouds were patchy, and the water was perfect. But as all good things come to an end, we left the river with 2 bags of fish and tired eyes. The last morning of the jungle came and went in a blur. We woke to a downpour of rain. As the rain calmed, in midday we headed back to the river, where 18 of us climbed into a large canoe that had a mini motor. A 20 minute rocky canoe ride, a 40 minute hike, and a 2nd canoe ride stood between us and where we were trying to catch our bus. After a 40 minute wait and deliberation about how to handle the 5 miles that stood between us and the bus, we found pick-up taxis that took us through the muddy construction to the bus that eventually got us back to the farm. Hot and sticky with tired eyes, and empty stomachs, it was bitter sweet return to the farm. We would itch our bug bites and reminisce an experience that affected us all more than we can describe.

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