This is a far cry from what I would have thought I needed three years ago before I lived so close to the jungle.
The trip is boat Monkey Point, then on foot south to the border of Costa Rica, then up the Indian river and into Rama territory to find some ruins rumored to be hidden in the jungle. I am heading out there with Guthry, a Rama indian guy that I work with. He has family down that way and it’s always easier traveling with a local. Plus, when I get konked on the head with a coconut he can carry me.
Just finished packing…here is what I am stuffing in my pack. Yes, I know you know that normally I don’t travel with a pack, but this is a serious trip where I will be swinging a jungle sword with one hand and swatting skeeters with the other.
1 Kelty Redwing 2900 pack (on its last leg)
1 pair mudboots (poor man’s hiking boots)
1 pair sandals (for more formal occasions)
1 baseball cap (Coast Power political party…sure to piss off the sandinistas)
1 22″ machete (just sharp enough to slice off a thumb)
1 camping hammock (the bomb-looking thing on the right)
5 T shirts
1 sweater (Cashmere. Because I demand the best.)
2 pairs of socks (Cheep ass cotton. Because really I don’t give a damn)
belt, toothbrush, 3 days of toothpaste (forgot to get more. oops), deodorant, OFF!, sunscreen, camera (not shown. Duh!), 2 extra camera batteries, note pad, pen, mirror, bandaids, mini sewing kit and about 3 feet of duct tape, razor, shampoopoo, phone and charger, copy of my passport (real one is in Managua…don’t ask), and a little cash.
And that pile of colorful stuff under my hat is a collection of cheepo toys that I am bringing to pass out to kids living in the houses we will be staying in. And you guys thought I was a grinch!
Speaking of Christmas, not sure where I will be. I hope to be in San Carlos for NYE and make my way back up to Bluefields after that.
So when I was debating with myself about wearing mudboots for an extended trip into the bush, I went to my travel companion Guthry for advice. Guthry grew up in Bankukuk, a small Rama community of nomadic bush people. If anyone could suggest proper footwear for sandy, muddy, jungly conditions for days on end, it would be him. We would be walking side by side, so I value his opinion. I described my dilemma about boots vs. shoes, carrying sandals or not, investing in some expensive footwear. He sensed my worry. “So Guthry,” I asked, “what are you wearing?”
I stared at him for a second or ten. “What?”
“Nah mahn. Me no wear no kinda shoes wen me no in Bluefields.”
I stared at him for another two seconds or ten. Then I looked down at his feet. He had slipped off his cheep-o sandals and was flexing his broad toes.
“You are gonna walk all the way down the beach, carrying your stuff, through the jungles, into the communities…barefoot.”
“Yah mahn.” < solemn, quiet indian stare>
“Okay then,” I said, acceptingly. “Damn dude, you are tough.”
“Yah mahn. I am wan tuff neggar.”
So now I am imagining me as a tall, skinny gringo decked in my mudboots, american backpack filled with underwear and bugspray and sunblock, huffing through the bush sweating my beads off and sending animals scurrying from beneath my heavy feet while Guthry the jungle indian glides behind me…silently…effortlessly.
I should have left two days ago for Monkey Point, so you can expect a few other pre-posted posts up until the end of December. I hope to return by the 3rd of January and I will update ya’ll on my trip asap.
Wish me luck!