October 30, 2018
I’m like a regular Sucusari farmer now, man. The past few weeks my orchids (in my indoor garden) have been throwing up flowering stalks and I’ve been going nuts with anticipation since it’s super hard to make orchids flower. A few days ago, there was still nothing, then out of nowhere the next morning I woke up and there were three beautiful little orange orchids in full bloom on one of the flower stalks. Super exciting. More leaf shoots have started to come up from the “root” mass as well, so hopefully I will have more soon. My outdoor garden has also expanded. An NGO named CONAPAC (run through Explorama, the lodge company) has been doing a fruit-tree growing trial with five families here. They recently brought hundreds of plants for those families to plant and try to grow, and more baby trees for the community as a whole. The thing is, nobody wanted to plant the trees. Most of them are still sitting over by the port dying in their little bags. So I grabbed six huasai trees (that make the Acai berry) and planted them in a ring around my house next to my baby aguaje trees. Huasai are beautiful palms and they grow super fast so I am excited.
My animal farm has also grown. Marina ran over yesterday to proudly pronounce that I owned three more chickens. I asked why she was giving me more chickens when I don’t really take care of one (Marina does) and she held out three baby chicks. Apparently Apollo 2 has been busy. I have to admit they’re pretty freaking cute, but they’re definitely going to raise my chicken support bill to like 100 grains of rice daily instead of 50. Pato flies circles around my house and Marina’s singing the whole time and terrorizing the children. Of course they love it. Nobody can believe that he doesn’t just fly away, but I know Pato would never miss out on an opportunity to bother me in the morning as I am drinking my coffee. I’m definitely not afraid he won’t come back. Currently he’s happily perched on my teapot preening himself – I just gave him a bath. He loves baths. I also love his baths because for some reason dumping a whole bowl of water on Pato is really satisfying for how much of his poop I clean up. Not to mentioned a few minutes ago I caught him trying to pluck the eyeball out of a fish I was about to fry for lunch. Not cool, that’s one of my favorite parts.
Having a boat and a motor has changed my life here for the better for sure. My research got a lot easier since I can visit people’s houses that live far away whenever I want. I can also go to the lodge whenever I want (usually at 5am before most people are up) to do my work and send emails and say what’s up to my friends. It’s also pretty fun to drive although I almost dropped the motor in the river once. I have to take it off and carry it up to my house every time I finish for the day; easier said than done considering it weighs about 60 pounds and the slope up to my house is mud up to your knees if it has rained in the last few days. The dry spots are fickle and hard to find. I picked it up once and walked along my boat, stepped onto the slope and sank right up to my thigh in mud with the extra weight of the motor. I lost my balance right away and dropped the motor right in the river. Now I was sinking in the mud and my motor was sinking in the river but I was in no position to really help that. Jairo had to help me clean the mud and water out of the carburetor which was also pretty embarrassing. He knew right away what happened. Now when I want to travel in the morning I bail the water out of the boat then row it over to the stairs of the port so I don’t have to walk down the slope. It is extra time definitely well spent.
It's been two weeks without any form of meat whatsoever and I can’t say I am enjoying being a vegetarian. When I saw Jairo walking up the hill this morning with a sack full of huge catfish and stingrays (yes there are stingrays here) my mouth started watering. I practically met him at the door – and left with 1 salted sabalo, 2 palomettas, a 2-kilo salted catfish (for tomorrow), and a healthy slice of stingray wing. Ellie and Ana and Jesus arrived again with 2 chickens (Marina smoked) and a leg of sajino (wild pig – also smoked). Today has been a day of meat, finally. Sajino bacon for breakfast tomorrow?? Awesome.
The only other excitement in my life was this evening when Jesus was bathing in the river and the fish were nibbling the soap. Jesus, being the fisherman he is, decided to grab the fish. It was a little catfish with spines like needles, and two of those spines sank almost an inch into the palm of his hand. He couldn’t get the fish out of his hand then because of the barbs on the spine and came running over screaming with blood pouring out of his hand. He now knows one of the most important rules of the Amazon – if you don’t know what it is, don’t grab it. It can probably hurt you. At least he got some satisfaction from feeding the fish to Marina’s cat Poncho. Silly kids…