The last couple of days
have been so manic, that my days have seemed full of a thousand sounds.
The rapids, a constant reminder of the task at hand, the growl of the
tractor dragging the boat, everyone in the group shouting as we've struggled
inch by inch along the trail. In every respect my mind has been busy,
almost to the point of overload. I started the day in a similar frame
of mind - a comparison would be the autopilot that most people go into
as they travel to work early in the morning.
Around noon, Max, Jay and I set off along the trail for the last time,
trudging through the mud, sweating in the close moist heat that hangs
permanently around ground level. For the first kilometre or so I followed
close behind Max, sweating like a lunatic, straining to keep focused
on the forest floor... it was a real slog.... As I walked... I remembered
how yesterday I had joined a logger for a walk through the forest to
collect some water from the river. Where as I struggle with every footstep
he seemed to make his way through the trees effortlessly. At one point
I stopped to see if I could hear his movements… not a sound. It
was quite striking ...
With this vision in mind I decided to completely slow down my pace letting
the others disappear out of sight. Instead of panting away chasing my
own breath I ambled along listening to the forest around me. At one
point I stopped by the side of a huge tree, something like a giant Red
Wood in size, a tropical version called a Ceba. I spent nearly ten minute
by its side in silence.... Although I am not a 'Tree Hugger' I did have
a few words with him- 'the old man of the forest'. In his own way he
made me forget the stress of the last days, calmed my senses and opened
my ears to the forest... for me It was the most magical moment of the
trip so far.... I was alone... just nature and I.
With the boat repairs completed the whole group, now 13 strong (with
the arrival of the Captain and Suresh - the tractor diver, who's hitching
a ride), pushed her into the shallow waters of the swamp Jay and I walked
through two days ago... She floats... a few leeks but nothing too major...it's
a miracle.. Aweti you're Master.
The swamp section was hysterical; more shouting as we all strained for
the final break for open water. Its been 4 days of natural obstacles,
one after the other and the swamp still had a few to offer. (Have a
look at the Video).
It's 11.13 ... At this precise moment I am huddled in the corner of
an abandoned gold mining pontoon, sheltering from an angry storm that
has just blown in. We emerged triumphantly from the swamp at around
5.30 and claimed this battered shelter as our camp. The only complaint
was from a resident snake, discretely coiled up above our heads as we
As I made a fire, Jay and Max took a 'relaxing' boat ride to find somewhere
to 'go washi' it would have been the perfect end to a tough day... would
have been! had they not stalled the engine, and narrowly avoided being
sucked into the rapids. As if that where not enough, whilst washing
on a rock in the middle of the river... a strong current took hold of
Max and began to drag him away. Had it not been for Jay standing close
by grabbing him with slippery hands.... there wouldn't be any video
today! As a finale, on their way back, the boat smashed into a huge
rock, pivoting for a few scary moments before setting them free...
Tomorrow’s another day.... Thankfully!
Although its been an adventure, It will be good to finally get underway
again and be able to focus on the real reasons we have come so far.
It’s wonderful to have the Captain with us....
The Home Straight