Friday, 9 May 2014

Day 9 - Master of the machete

Master of the machete, slave to the mosquito. 

It feels a little unsettling at camp at the moment. Something’s in the air and I can't put my finger on it. Some of the guys went back to Puerto Maldonado today, but there was an issue with gas and they weren’t sure how far the boat would actually get. We can only assume that they managed to sort everything and they got back to Puerto in good time. There’s a big lack of communication here. Being in the jungle with no form of communication other than a radio that the staff operate - which sounds a lot more like aliens are trying to contacting us, the signal is obviously pretty dodgy - so communication between us and the real world is pretty challenging. It's like Chinese whisper, jungle style.

I was planning to go back today to sort out some flight details and to speak to family but one of the girls fell ill so she was supposed to go instead, so I mentally prepared to stay here at Pie. Then this morning she felt better, so the space was there but I had made arrangements here in the jungle and promised one of the guys that I’d help him cut a new trail for his work, so I ended up staying. 

Me, Brian, Tom and Harry set off at around Noon to meet Henry at his new trail – I was told, in hindsight, that I should have read the signs that it wasn't going to be an easy day "you were going out with 4 guys, Ffion. Go figure!" It was lucky I did all that machete/zombie training the other day, I was prepared.

It took us about 45-60 minutes to get to the trail. We knew when we hit off trail, we had to pass through so many swamps and huge tree trunks and rivers and just plain "bad" jungle, it was an effort just to find Henry. "I think Henry is secretly super mario, how does he get over this shit" said Brian, "yeah, how the hell does he do this!" I thought, as I almost lost a boot in the river. 

When we finally got to him, the hard work began. The two at the front cut the high branches and began the moulding of the trail (Brian and Henry), third back (Tom) cut waist high and formed the width of the trail, and then the two in the back (me and Harry) had to clear the whole bottom of trail and get any big tree stumps out the ground and form a more finished clean trail that was safe-ish. We were doing this for about 4 or 5 hours with just water breaks to keep us hydrated in the blazing heat. I can honestly say I have never, ever been that drenched, and I’m not talking about swamp wet here, I was sweating like tomorrow was already destroyed and all existence had ceased so every pore was excreting as much water as possible.

I was even sweating off my insect repellent, which wasn’t great when we were surrounded by swarms of hundreds if not thousands of mosquitoes. All of a sudden Harry smacked me in the face, "What the hell are you doing?!", "There was a mozzie on your nose, I got it though." Thanks Harry. (I still had a big red spot form her though, those things are sneaky!)

We were also attacked by fire ants, I now understand fully where they got their name from, my god do they burn. One fell down my top and bit my right under my boob and another behind my ear, the little shits! Harry and Tom were also attacked by them, by now the heat and vicious wildlife were starting to take their toll on us. Harry also managed to hit himself in the shin with his machete, I played mum and addressed to his wound even though he protested. Going back into a swamp with a deep fresh wound isn't something I wanted him to do. So he had no choice. Iodine and a bandage sorted it out, but his once fresh white socks, had a telling horror story now covered in blood. 

By the time we got back it was dark and almost time for dinner, a quick yoga session and a cold shower before food was very welcomed. I'll be sore tomorrow...