Grumble in the Jungle
Trip Start Aug 04, 2008
33Trip End Ongoing
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We headed to the jungle of Noell Kempf Mercado National Park on our 18hr bus ride. The journey, despite the bus looking like it had been in a war and then overloaded with all manner of electrical goods to sell in Brasil, was actually quite a smooth one. The seats felt like old sofas and the road wasnt too bad. It did get a little cold at night though, because there where no windows, and we did have a hairy moment over an embankment as we weaved past a road blockade.
We arrived to La Machita at 6am, reported as a small town in the guide but it actually turned out to be a house where the Machita family lives. From there we only had a 60km walk to the first stop point, unless we could get a lift. We were really hoping for a few cars going up the road but we were hopeful becuase everyone we'd asked said there would be many. We did manage to get a couple lifts, but only after over 6 hours of walking with our backpacks full of enough food for a week. We also met 2 cars going the other way who told us that they would be coming back in less than an hour but never came. The last lift we got was on a loggers truck, which was desperately needed as we'd flagged a long time ago, nearly stepped on a snake, then hit the wall, then gone a little further by then, and so we straddled the logs and tried to avoid being wiped out by low hanging trees. We then found some kids who'd take us to La Florida, our destination. It was only about 2km more, but it felt so long that we started to suspect the kids were taking us into the jungle to beat us to death and take our stuff.
When we finally arrived, La Florida was like a jungle paradise. It was a village of about 15 well made huts, with a nice hostel run by a lovely, motherly woman and her beautiful daughters. They basically lived off the money brought by tourism although they were in need of nothing
"No, there's nothing dangerous in the river. Its fine." - "There aren't crocodiles or piranhas or anything?" - "No, nothing." ---- "Could we go fishing later" - "Of course!" - "What fish are there?" - "Piranhas".
By the time we asked about fishing, we'd already taken a dip, but other villagers were there too. I guess she meant that they wouldn't bite. We later found out that there were caymans there too. When we did go piranha fishing, we found river completely teeming with them and we had to replace our bait every 30 seconds because they devoured it as soon as it hit the water. I managed to catch two babies, making me the winner and getting the first beer when we got back. The locals were just hauling them out of the water though.
The next day we managed to get a lift to the next checkpoint with our guide, Guido, who was the guide for Noell Kempf when he was killed by drug barons (the park used to be a big cocaine processing area before that, then the army came in)
That night we went to a stream with a trickle of dirty looking water to fish. I was dubious about how many fish could live there but our guide caught 6 in less than 6 minutes. The just threw themselves at him! They were delicious but that night I got ill. It started with just a pain in my stomach and the need to poo but i didnt wanna go because you had to go outside with the insects and God-knows-what. Then in the middle of the night i was sick on the floor. While Pete cleared it up i then ran outside to do a very scared diarrhea poo outside whilst being bitten by all sorts of insects. I then went to have a shower but had to run out becuase I was joined by a tarantula. It was a dark moment as I was still in pain, felt drained and trapped by scary creatures.
The next day I felt worse and dizziness and a headache had added themselves to my symptoms
"Sure. There are many trucks, buses, cars that come past here. You wont have to wait long."
Two hours later we found out the there was a woman there who'd been waiting for a whole day for something to come past. We were lucky though, and a truck stopped there late at night. There wasn't space in the cabin so we had to lie on the cargo of planks of wood
In the morning, feeling stiff after 6 hours of riding. We stood up at the back to let our knees cushion us a little while we watched the sun rise. We then made it to a tarmacked road and so were able to lie down again. It soon got so hot, though, that we couldn't take any longer. We got dropped off in a medium sized town and managed to get a bus the rest of the way.
Even though I got very ill (im still weak now) and didnt manage to make it on the hike, i view the trip as a success, as we were in the jungle, saw lots of wildlife and had a great time in La Florida. Janey, on the other hand, hated it and has vowed to never go near jungle again.