Five lessons from the jungle


1. If you venture into thick jungle and the guy wielding the machete is a foot shorter than you, you are going to bump your head a lot.

We set out at crack of dawn to explore the grid system around the Research Centre in search of interesting things. There are rough paths following the grid so the walking was tough but OK. Then we went off into the pristine jungle to search for a particular palm that Christian could use to teach the boys how to make a blow-dart gun. We had thought our walk through the Valley of the Poison-dart Frogs was tough going, but this was real jungle.

Piranha dinner.

2. David Attenborough has superhero powers.

In all the wandering about and looking for animals we’ve done in the last few days, actual sightings have been few and far between. The problem is that this is roughly pristine jungle and so the animals are spread out. A fellow-traveller who had been to Borneo tells us you go out and trip over animals there because the logging has forced them all into a small area. The Mr Attenborough setting out and within seconds talking in hushed tones within feet of interesting things is, in our experience, either special effects or, as stated, superhero powers. As he’s one of my heroes, I’m going with the later.


3. If you want to spot things in the jungle, don’t ask the guy with one eye.

There are so many layers to the jungle that real depth perception is crucial to spotting things. Jennifer was seeing stuff and vainly trying to point it out to me. Unless it moved I had no hope.

4. The dangerous things are not always obvious

We went fishing for piranha again this afternoon and caught several – three different species in fact. They do have vicious teeth but are nothing like as dangerous as advertised. In fact the thing that has really captured our imagination is a particular fungus. this little beauty falls on its victim and then grows to take control of the victim’s nervous system, sending them slowly insane. Eventually the victim finds a high spot and dies, the fungus spores and the cycle continues. The only saving grace is that the victims are always wasps – at least as far as anyone knows.

5. People like lists

There are definitely a group of our fellow-travellers that are trying to tick off a list of having seen as many animals as possible. We’ve discovered that’s simply not us. Most of a year of travelling has made us very copacetic – we’re pretty much happy just to be here, seeing some cool stuff is a bonus rather than an end in itself. Which means we are not getting up at 5am to tramp through the jungle again tomorrow.

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