Random bits around camp

Trip Start Jul 23, 2002
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29
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Trip End Jul 23, 2003


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Friday, March 28, 2003

Living in the jungle brought it's own set of interesting aspects, contrasts to normal life and unique features that made it into all that we experienced. From candlelit dinners becoming the norm rather than being used for romantic effect (with the entertainment benefit with you can make wax figurines from your light source), to the accommodation and its 'creature' comforst and making do with the basics, it all made an interesting package. The comedor was the place where we spent most of our time when we weren't out in the forest as it was a eating, working, writing, relaxing, drinking and playing area - and for whatever else you wanted to do basically. The hammocks were very popular in the spare time we had in the middle of the day, or after dinner. The comedor was a place where the wildlife also lived providing us with some entertainment, like Baz the tarantula catching a moth in the roof, a cool tree snake moving through the roof and the termites.

The termites were responsible for several interesting incidents, with one time Jimmy climbing up into the ceiling with a machete and cutting down the termite nest, which ended up covering the comedor with termites as it crashed to the floor. Then each day someone needed to go around with the machete and scrape off the termite trails that had been built during the previous day in an attempt to discourage them from rebuilding their home. Why do this - well Pete and Chris found out why when they leant against one of the railings and found that it wasn't very strong anymore. It gave way completely for Chris and sent him sprawling onto the ground outside the comedor. And the rest of us broke up into laughter.

One weekend saw a big cleanup of the Comedor, with things being taken out and cleaned as a surprise to the camp coordinator who was away for 2 days. Shelves were made for everyone's junk, bag hooks for all the nets, papers sorted and even soap dishes made for the washing storage - very impressive. It ended up going to the extremes of a Wellie Zone being marked onto the floor with all Wellies having to be placed in the region or risk being flung outside. Wellies were the cause of many concerns with people tripping over them, losing them in the mud of the trails, or being stolen for a quick jaunt around the camp, leading to people having on boots either way too big or small for them, with some interesting walking styles being seen - size 13 feet don't work too well in size 6 boots, or vice versa. At times we were sure there was a wellie thief around with boots disappearing all over the place. And every now and then Wellies would appear underneath the comedor, or out in the garden.

The kitchen too was a focus of attention with food becoming a favourite topic of conversation. After a while the question of 'What's for breakfast/lunch/dinner?' got a little annoying - especially when you didn't know what it was going to be yourself yet, and on several occasions someone was chased out of the kitchen. Food became a focus in another way too with people starting to list the food they wanted to have when they got back home - from the simple, to the listing of entire meals. But for some reason no-one listed their daily dose of the lovely purple refresco as being something they'd miss when they left. Each day saw either bread or mandazi's made for those who would be out in the forest when breakfast was being made (I've never had pancakes that often for breakfast, but noone seemed that keen on porridge - me included, especially just before resupply when there was no milk, honey, jam, etc). There tended to be a minor problem though of disappearing mandazis or bread which lead to a declaration of the bread is for.... hands off!

When we arrived we found that Matt had been the best baker the phase before, and when we saw the product we were a little worried. So with a bit of alteration to the bread recipe, and some tender loving care to the fire we got the bread to something that was actually edible - with there ending up being a competition between me, James and Vix for the best baker. The key though was the fire which proved to be a little challenging somedays with wet wood (being in a rainforest in the wet season) and often resulted in James outside swinging the axe making woodchips until Jimmy or Jose can out to do some chopping. But by the end of the phase the sawdust had progressed up through woodchips into actual wood pieces for the fire. James also had a minor problem when he came to make the bread though in that he could never find the jug which we used for the yeast, yet I could walk in there and see it sitting somewhere fairly obviously. The jug wasn't the only thing to disappear, the kitchen gloves also had this habit of wandering off somewhere so you could never find them when you actually had to get something hot off the fire or stove. And a big egg flip was also bought at midphase and happened to disappear and never return. Wonder where that went...... Any ideas Simon????

Quite a bit of socialising went on in the kitchen, and many a time you'd walk in to find a bunch of people in there, sitting around on the food bins and just talking. Vicky got to be quite lucky (or more likely not) because she got to have Simon and Paul help her out whenever she was in the kitchen. That is if following someone around and getting in their way whatever direction they move in is helpful. One job that everyone looked forward to on camp duty was cleaning out the vege cabinet - I mean what better feeling is there to pick up a piece of fruit or vege and have your fingers go right through it. Food tends to go off quite quickly in a tropical rainforest for some reason. The kitchen could be quite a dangerous place to work in - the number of times we tripped us and 'accidentally' send a bowl of dirty water flying out the non-existent windows just wouldn't have happened anywhere else. Probably because other places had sinks!

Free time saw different activities happening, a lot of reading, talking, diary writing and listening to music. But Saturday afternoons proved to be a little more active with mud fights and slides at the river when the water level had dropped, soccer and volleyball on the lawn. There was even a game of castana cricket with a porcupine chewed bat and a castana which noone was too keen to actually catch for some reason. One night saw a fancy dress evening with some interesting outfits being on show, made just from what we had brought with us and some cardboard. The night also ended up having no washing up to be done after the meal since all the food was served on plantain leaves which got recycled back into the forest - ultimate in disposable dining gear. The last Saturday at camp saw a mini-olympics being set up, but there was a fair bit of sabotague happening so by the end most of the obstacle course got missed out! There was a dry porridge eating contest which our two porridge lovers got nominated for, but they didn't seem to have their normal appetite for porridge that day.

The huts in which we slept also had their unique features that you don't find everywhere else - from the tape on the floor to seal the cracks in the wooden floor, to the tarp over your head to stop the bats peeing on you, to the mossie nets that gave you a place of escape from the insects, to the wildlife that called the room home too. The least welcome residents were the rats by far. All the rest were fine but it was the rats that built nests in the corners of rooms rattling plastic and paper all night, that dragged food into the room and sat behind your head chewing on it at 3am - not the most pleasant thing to be woken up by. And then there was the odd time when they'd get into you stuff and start chewing that - with one guy waking up to the lovely sight of half a dead rat next to his bed, which left the question of what had eaten the other half of the rat. Mostly the other animals kept to themselves and so it wasn't a big deal to share your room with mouse opposums, tarantulas, geckos, bats, and possibly a snake. Every few nights there would be someone talking in their sleep and some odd comments and dreams were had, which lead to some interesting stories the next morning. And those conversations just before sleep could take some interesting turns, and could be heard throughout the volunteers hut - and it can't all be blamed on Larium.
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