5/28/10: Iquitos, Peru
In honor of my latest reading milestone, John Grisham’s The Firm (which, by the way, was fantastic), today I’d like to bring you a two-part post in the theme of a crooked corporate office.
- This place is definitely bugged.
- Get me those pdfs… pronto!
(1) This place is definitely bugged. The problem with our visit to the Great Wall was that it was absolutely frigid outside – almost too cold and too windy to move. The problem with the Inca Trail was TWWAIQ who wouldn’t stop asking inane questions. The problem with Bangkok was that it was awful. But those are all temporary problems: seasonal, circumstantial or scamtastic. (Yes, I do believe that one day Bangkok will turn into an enjoyable city.) The Amazon rainforest, however, has a problem that will never go away: mosquitoes.
I know Amy touched on this in her first guest post, but it bears repeating. The mosquitoes here will drain you of your will to go on, as if you were watching the never-ending disaster (movie) that is 2012. After the third night I actually plotted out a few different escape strategies just to get away from the devilish bugs:
- Leave on the boat with the other three members on our group. But this would be too easy.
- Tame a jaguar and ride it through the jungle a la Harold and Kumar on their cheetah (only we’d ride our animal to safety). But this might take too long and thus encourage further bites.
- Drown ourselves in the river, thus permanently putting an end to our misery. The only viable option.
This might seem a bit harsh, but if you ever saw any of Amy’s limbs during this week you’d understand. I’m pretty sure any competent doctor would have asked her if she’d like some skin to go with her bug bites. No amount of DEET or Off! Skintastic for Kids could block the barrage of insects. The repellents simply acted like the 15 security guards surrounding an SEC basketball court when the home fans want to rush the playing surface. 20,000 on 15 – it’s not a fair fight. I myself had repeatedly asked Zhou to cut off my own feet to put an end to the itchy misery, but Amy really put my own problems in perspective. I quickly learned that Zhou is not the only Zhang who is ten times tougher than me.
However – yes, there is a however – we have now made it to day 5, and all three of us are glad we stayed. Once there is no open skin left for a mosquito to bite, we were able to shift our entire focus to the amazing Amazon around us. I can’t imagine a more interesting and intricate ecosystem in the entire world. One could spend 10,000 days in the jungle and discover something new and incredible each day. Unfortunately we only have six. It really isn’t enough time.
(2) Get me those pdfs… pronto! I made a living for two years converting documents into Adobe pdfs, so I owe a lot to these crisp, beautiful files. But here in the rainforest, pdfs have a completely different meaning: poison dart frogs. Today we went hunting for pdfs.
Our guide, Moises and his friend from the village, Miguel, led the charge in the forest with a simple sentence of guidance: “Keep your eyes peeled for frogs in case we miss any.” Don’t worry guides, I thought. I’ve wanted to see these things ever since Sigourney Weaver introduced them to me on Planet Earth – I’ll have no trouble find a bright, neon frog in the woods.
Two hours later and no one had seen a single pdf. Two tiny, ugly toads had jumped by, but that was it. I imagined in my head that we had somehow caught the pdfs during their big weekly congregation. Somewhere far away in the woods there were hundreds of colorful frogs huddling as if in a rugby scrum, discussing their plans for the upcoming week. If only we could find this scrum! It would be magical. Unfortunately, we were stuck close to the path. And there were no frogs in sight.
Just as we were about to give up, Miguel shispered (that’s short for shout whispered) to us to come see. He had a pdf trapped under an l (that’s short for leaf). We all scurried over quicker than Brianna the soccer player. Moises took once glimpse and proclaimed, “Oooh, that’s the most poisonous frog in the rainforest.” He then grabbed the frog and leaf in his bare hand.
Look at how tiny that thing is! (Yes, it’s full grown.) No wonder I never saw one. But now that I did see it, it became my favorite animal in the rainforest. It’s so colorful, but so deadly. (Obviously not to the touch though, as Moises just proved. Apparently it will burn the skin off your face and would kill you if you eat it, but it won’t hurt your palm. Just be sure to wash your hands after touching.) It’s so cute, but so amphibious. It’s just plain interesting.
Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the end result of our search for pdfs. Just for fun, check out some of the other colorful things we found along the way.
Puzzles for Postcards
Where Am I? Name the landmark and the country.
Picture of the Day: Jungle proposal.