Oh what a night it was! The ranch workers kept talking, eating, banging things, lighting fires until all hours of the night. Sleeping in the hammock was not very comfortable. Just as I managed to fall asleep after hours of tossing and turning, the “shaman” came back drunk from the party at around 2 am, yelling greetings to all of the ranch hands at the top of his lungs. Now that they were awake, the ranch hands started talking. Just as they got quiet, the roosters started crowing (It was still dark! What’s up with that?), which woke up the ranch hands and they started talking again. This cycle repeated itself for what seemed like hours until the “shaman” started blasting Caracoal radio (the news) at 5:30 am. Nothing like listening to stories of kidnappings, rape and murder when in the Amazon rainforest. I was pissed and seriously considering telling off the “shaman” but I couldn’t figure out how to get back down the totem pole.
As you can probably tell, I was pretty grumpy when I rolled out of my hammock. These folks might not need sleep since they are all doing mambe, but we had a day of hiking in the hot and humid rainforest ahead of us and I wanted to enjoy it. I was pissed with the shaman and with Kike, who organized our trek. I am fine with roughing it for the sake of nature or exploring interesting cultures but not for the sake of a bunch of mambe addicted people. (Although as I write this, I realize that I was getting a great cultural experience and an opportunity to talk to Jade about drugs and addiction.)
After breakfast and much needed coffee, we had a quick tour around the farm where they grow yucca, chilies, corn and, of course, coca and hiked on to our guide’s rancho. Located in a pretty clearing in the jungle, the rancho, where he lives when he is not guiding, was basically a few poles and a leaf roof. There was a river nearby and we happily jumped in to cool off.
After a yummy pineapple snack, cut down by our guide with his machete, we hiked on to our campsite, crossing several creeks and rivers on very slippery logs. With a firepit, hammock hanging area and even a bench to sit on, the campsite turned out to be much more organized that I expected it to be. Other than the tropical vegetation, we could have been camping in Massachusetts.
Our guide quickly warmed up our lunch of chicken, sausage and potatoes and set up our hammocks while Jade and I went for a dip in the river. The swim was marvelous! It was so refreshing and beautiful to be in the middle of the jungle with nobody around.
Just as we were getting out, the sky darkened and we began to wonder if we would get to witness rain in the rainforest. Our guide did not think so but he prepared just in case. He built himself a palm leaf shelter and fortified our tarps with palm leaf extensions. And good thing he did all this because it poured! It was pretty neat to be inside our mosquito net covered hammocks listening to the rain pummel against our tarp. We were having a true rainforest experience.
All good things need to come to an end and we were pretty ready to get out of our hammocks by the time the rain slowed down to a drizzle three hours later. Plus we still had to go fish for our dinner. We ventured out to the river and using mojojoy for bait, quickly caught three fish. Jade was very excited to catch her first fish but the excitement quickly turned to trauma as our guide bashed in the fishes’ head with a machete. (This was to stop them from squeaking. I have never heard fish squeak and it was pretty disturbing.) Needless to say, we did not feel like eating the fish for dinner but kind of had after all that.
Satiated and happy, we retired to our hammocks and fell asleep to the sounds of the jungle and raindrops hitting our tarp. Magical!