Saturday, October 19, 2013

Visiting the Shaman

Today was decidedly the more "touristy" day of the jungle experience. We started off the day by visiting a remote jungle village to "help" harvest yuka in order to cook indigenous bread. I am not sure how much I helped. I watched the woman take a machete to the yuka plant, then a couple of guys in our group yanked the roots from the ground. Next, the woman, again with a machete, peeled the yuka and tossed them into her mesh bag. The mesh bag was then carried, in a traditional way, of course, by Miriam (on her head). Next, we went to the "kitchen," a patch of dirt surrounded by benches with a fire pit in one corner and a basin lining the "wall." It felt more like an auditorium than a kitchen. In the kitchen, we, and I participated here, grated the yuka on a handmade cheese grater that was more effective in grating the knuckles of two of the girls than actually grating the yuka. Finally, the woman stuck her hands into the fire (I have no idea how she wasn't burned) and in a round pan, she created a bread-like substance from yuka gratings and some sort of flour powder. The bread tasted unusual, but it was not terrible.

After, we all headed out if the kitchen to shoot blow darts at a small seed positioned on a stick in the ground. I came close, but I am no Katniss. Liza, on the other hand, speared the seed on her second attempt, winning a free beer.

In the afternoon, we headed to a shaman "hospital" where a couple people in our group were "healed" by the shaman, who slashed a poisonous vine across their backs, immediately causing large red welts. The welts were supposed to disappear within a half an hour, but one girl, a doctor from the US, still had the welts the next morning. Needless to say, I opted out of this medical procedure.

The evening was a drastically different experience. We went on a night hike in search of all of the things bad dreams are made of. We started off the hike discovering a tarantula, then proceeded to find a boa constrictor, a small baby snake, lots of grasshoppers, and a baby frog. The craziest thing that happened was that we found a scorpion, which the guide then put on Brett's head, saying it would be a good Facebook photo. He was amazingly calm, and let the scorpion crawl on him for almost a minute.

I couldn't decide if I was scared or excited. I felt like I should be scared, but the guide was so excited whenever he found some crazy insect that I couldn't help but be a little excited. Plus, I felt semi protected in my insect proof pants, scarf, and rain jacket with my hood pulled over my head. In total, two inches of skin was exposed, max. I have never been so sweaty in my
life. Also, I looked like I was in an early Halloween costume - either jungle safari or someone who spends too much money at REI.

Finished The Circle. Started reading Gone Girl.

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