That night, Drew and I asked around about Batman at the communal dinner table. “Remember the group that got lost looking for frogs?” asked a ponytailed middle school biology teacher (we did remember that, in short, a group of people and their guide got lost, looking for frogs), “well, Batman is the guy they sent out to rescue the guides.” We were stunned because, as much as it pains me to say it, I’m pretty sure if we set the NORMAL guides and the Great One loose in the Amazon…the guides would find and eat Bear Grylls. So for this guy to be the guide rescuer…we’re talking about one hardcore Peruvian
So it was with not-inconsiderable apprehension the next morning that we boarded a small motorboat, two dugout canoes in tow. Batman sat silently in the bow, a Batman ballcap on his head and a razor-sharp machete in his hand.
We motored upriver until the waters were too shallow for the outboard motor, at which point we tied the boat to a tree and set off in the canoes. Drew and I insisted that we be allowed to paddle, thinking with our Norteamericano muscles we’d arrive at our eventual destination much faster. Batman and Edson laughed, handed us paddles, and we were off. Our guides paddled steadily, the spade-shaped blades knifing into the water with this funny “plop, plop, plop,”, while Drew and I thrashed hopelessly trying to emulate them. About three hours later, we pulled our boats up to a small clearing and started building shelters to sleep in that night. We split palm fronds and laid them over a framework we built of branches and vines. Rarely have I felt more like Bear Grylls. It was around this time that we pulled out the mosquito nets that would become the most important part of our shelters. About 3 minutes later we realized that one net had a giant rip through the middle (which, if you’re unfamiliar with the purpose of mosquito nets, would render it slightly less-than-useful). So we’re left with two one man nets, and one 1.3 man net. Somehow, Drew and I end up sharing the 1.3 man net, while the two tiny jungle ninjas got their own nets, but how do you argue with the people who control your survival? We wouldn’t realize the import of this mosquito net deal until later. After shelter-building time, we went fishing for piranhas (Drew caught an electric eel), dropped one of the machetes into the piranha infested river, and cut down a palm tree with the remaining machete, +12 Bear Grylls points. Did you know that’s how we get palm hearts? It’s a lot of work, and a lot of wasted tree for salad garnish. An entire tree to get enough palm heart to dress one salad?
Once we finished with Lost Boys activity hour, we armed ourselves with spears, got back in the canoes and paddled all the way to China. At one point, about 3 hours after sunset I honestly began to contemplate the possibility that Batman and Edson had sold us to FARC and were taking us to some place in the jungle to begin our life as hostages of Colombian narco-terrorists. Drew and I had long since abandoned our feeble paddling efforts, as we could barely lift our arms above our waists. Edson and Batman kept up their steady “plop, plop, plop-ing” and we continued on our way to “go hunting.” Why they assumed there were only animals in Brazil, I’ll never know. After we had nearly circumnavigated the globe by canoe, we speared a small alligator near what I surmise was Vietnam, then paddled back to Peru and our little palm-thatched hovels that we’d built earlier. After building a fire (+4 BG points) we scaled and ate that delicious little alligator (+6 BG points, with a 3 point deduction for cooking the meat) and then retired to our hovel. When we crawled in, Drew and I quickly realized the import of the mosquito net distribution I mentioned earlier. I won’t disclose what it took to make both of our overly large gringo bodies fit under our one mosquito net…but it rhymes with waytooclosetogether.
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to sleep in a jungle, with another man almost sleeping on top of you, and a million nocturnal creatures partying outside your mosquito net, but it’s not easy. My sweaty feverish slumber was periodically interrupted by screaming animals eating one another, Drew throwing elbows like Randy Couture, and the terrible fear that my feet would get eaten by bugs if they extended beyond the confines of the mosquito net which was about 6 inches shorter than my body. As it turns out, I should have been more worried about my arm, which I had futilely attempted to position in such a way that I wouldn’t be completely spooning Drew. In my eagerness to put space between the two of us, I’d managed to roll my left arm against the mosquito net (which, again, if you’re unfamiliar with mosquito net operation, allows creatures to bite you through the net). When we awoke, I discovered that I’d been bitten by approximately 50 billion creatures, and was probably about a quart low of blood. I’m pretty sure the mosquitos were walking away from our shelter, so overburdened were they by my blood that they were incapable of flight. My arm was swollen to epic proportions, closely resembling a hot dog left in the fire by a 10-year-old Cub Scout.
The paddle back to the motorboat seemed to go quicker than the day before, but that may have been due to the fact that I’d lost more blood than a gunshot victim the night before. We arrived back at the research station just in time to make the boat heading back to Iquitos, crammed in between banana crates and gas cans, covered in mud and mosquito bites, completely and totally happy.