Open Water

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 settled in.

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

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Reluctant Resident