Jungle Survival Journal — Day 7: A New Camp Deeper in the Jungle

Same breakfast routine as always, then one last bow hunting practice. Ian tells us to shoot first from 10 meters away (30 feet), then we get to move closer, to 5 meters (15 feet) to give us more confidence that we can actually hit something when we hunt during isolation. After that, we turn in our practice arrows and are issued hunting arrows: different tip, with 3 barbs. Once those are in something, they’re not coming out without ripping flesh.

We get a little free time for admin, to get our stuff packed up, and then we are supposed to gather in the mess hall for ration issue.

The gear I’m taking, besides my “ruck”: belt kit with machete, camelback, bamboo cook pot (and, of course, bow and arrows, and yariyari fishing rod).

Once we’re all gathered, Ian brings out a bunch of ziplock bags and packaged food. We sit around the table and each fill 4 ziplocks with rations for the next 3 days and for the day after isolation (“that last pack is to be used solely and ONLY once you come out of isolation. Do not touch it otherwise!”). We get oatmeal packs for every morning, a can of sardines, an MRE and a pack of ramen noodle soup, along with a few mini candy bars, tea bags, coffee sachets, and sugar packs. And a bag of peanuts or trail mix every day.

Then we bring our packs down to the river and get in the boats. I’m in the smaller boat with Ian and Lionel. I have my big Nikon out and ready. Ian says to keep the big lens on – “whatever we see that’s far away will be gone too quickly to change lenses, so keep the big lens on. If it’s something closer, you always have time to put your smaller lens on.” I keep switching and taking pictures.

We see lots of herons, kingfishers, some macaws. But futzing with my camera makes me feel like a tourist, rather than being able to enjoy the experience. I think I’ll just take the smaller camera on the next boat trip. The boat with Ian and Lionel is the lead boat. That means we are the ones that have to hack our way through fallen trees that block the river, or figure out whether we can go over logs that are just beneath the surface of the water.

Ian machetes a bunch of trees. We pull, push, or hold the boat in place, whatever is needed. In the really hopeless cases Lionel uses the German Stihl chainsaw that they have brought for just this purpose. There are so many trees to dispose of that the trip that was supposed to take about 2 hours takes closer to three. It seems every kilometer or so there is another fallen tree that blocks our way.

Finally, we make it to the new site: Rain Camp. We get maybe an hour or so to set up hammocks in teams of two and then we meet back by the river in the “admin” area and wait for further instructions.

We divide ourselves up into teams. I am “admin” today, together with O and D. Another team digs a “latrine” trench and the third team gets “firewood”. As admin, we have quite a few chores: clear the admin space of leaves and shrubs and vines, then set up tarps for a meeting space and for a cooking space. Fetch water from the river in large water bags that get tied to a tree. Then make a fire and make Y-sticks to hang a pot over the fire to boil water. And of course, we all have to bathe, too.

My basha: home, sweet home, for the next 3 nights


The daily bathing and clothes washing ritual: jumping off the boat makes it a little easier to get in the water.

By 6:00pm, we are supposed to have two pots of water boiling and ready for people’s dinner. B and J bring us firewood. I light the fire and pretty soon we have water heating up. We take turns guarding the fire while we bathe (MUCH easier to bathe here, much easier to get in and out of the water!).

Once everyone gathers for dinner, we serve water onto the broken-up ramen noodles in everyone’s mess tin, from both pots equally. The remaining water in each pot is enough to put the MREs in to heat them up. I have lentils and ham or something like that and it’s really good. Or maybe I’m just really hungry, LOL.

We are all beat today and nobody lingers too long after dinner. Somehow the long boat ride in the sun took a lot out of us, even though we just had to sit. But between that and the work here, O and C both came close to heat stroke and had to rest.

Since I was admin, I didn’t have much time to fix up my hammock, put up a drying line, etc. before I had to attend to my duties, so I futz around a bit before going to bed. Hope my hammock neighbor a few trees over isn’t too annoyed at my constant opening and closing of zippers and the dancing light of my headlamp!

It is dark here, really dark. The 12 hours of night didn’t seem so bad at Rock Landing where we had a generator and at least a dim light bulb in the mess hall (and power to charge phones etc). Here, there is a small circle of space darkly illuminated around the fire, and nothing else. And since we’re under the canopy, you don’t really see much of the sky and the stars. Everything seems to close in on you more than at the first site. Not exactly threatening, just dark.

The vines seem to grab my ankles when I head towards my hammock from the admin space, and I end up at my neighbor’s hammock once or twice because I missed the “turnoff”: where the dirt rises about a foot on the right, step up on the dirt pile and sort of hang left until you see two rotting logs on the ground, parallel to each other; cross over and keep going straight until you see a really large rotting log on your right. My hammock is a few steps to the left of that. Not easy to find. Especially in the pitch black darkness, with just a headlamp.

This is the earliest I have gone to bed on this entire trip (8:30pm maybe?) and I try to read a bit, but it’s hard to get into my book and I fall asleep after a few pages. The night noises are very similar to those at Rock Landing, peaceful, really.

I wake up at some point during the night from some animal that is scurrying around under my hammock, and rustling around near where my boots sit on sticks. Maybe a rat?


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