Slimy Yet Satisfying

DSC00378grubs.JPG

This blog entry about the events of Friday, December 12, 2003 was originally posted on December 15, 2003.

DAY 55: Juan and I woke at dawn and left our things in camp to go on a morning hike.  We walked along a trail, on logs, through creeks, looking at the different medicinal plants.  Juan showed me a coconut tree with small coconuts the size of a fist, which he cut open with his machete.  Inside were butterfly larvae that had hatched from eggs their mother had injected inside, to use the fruit and protection of the coconut to nurse them.

Juan took the grubs out of different coconuts and placed them on a leaf for, what I soon discovered, a pre-breakfast treat.  “[The people eat these, sometimes fried, sometimes in a soup.  Or just like this.]”  He popped one in his mouth like it was popcorn.  He would have been a sure winner on NBC’s Fear Factor show.

I picked up a grub and figured, what the hell, it won’t kill me.  I popped it my mouth and swallowed, and what can I say, it was as they said in The Lion King, “slimy yet satisfying.”  And no, it didn’t taste like chicken — it was more like fresh tomato with a hint of coconut.


IT STARTED TO RAIN and we were only protected by the jungle canopy for a while until it really started coming down.  We hiked back to camp to cover our things and waited out the storm.  In the interim, I drank some water so my little butterfly larvae friend would have something to swim around in inside me while waiting.  The rain let up after an hour and we hiked a different trail by the lagoon, passed shedding rubioso trees, big mahi trees with their intricate root systems, millipedes, and pygmy marmosets.  Despite the fact that we went in the direction of a distant toucan, when we arrived at base camp, we had fried dough pancakes and not Froot Loops.


MONKEYS ARE SMART CREATURES — almost too smart — for they know how to open zippers and doors.  I’m pretty sure they are far better at currency conversion than I am.  They also work in teams.  The group near base camp had the custom of coming everyday at about the same time to peek in, sneak in and raid the scraps bucket in the main hut, where I was sitting that morning by myself writing.  There are four doors into the main hut and the monkeys managed to distract me at one door while one ran to another door to sneak in.  One brown capuchin monkey made away some bananas, which he shared with his monkey friends.


“[CAN I HAVE A MACHETE TOO?]” I asked Juan as we were gearing up for an afternoon hike. 

“[Big or small?]”

“[Big.  It’s more fun,]” I said. 

He handed me a small sword about two feet long.  “[This one’s for a jaguar.]”

We hiked down another trail — each with a machete in hand — passing by more jungle vegetation and massive tree roots.  I can’t stress enough what a great feeling it is to walk around and just slice things with a sword.  One minute a plant is minding its own business, the next it goes the way of John Wayne Bobbitt.  Machetes must be one of the greatest inventions in the world, as they could be used for many purposes:

- cutting plants
- slicing fruit
- chopping tree roots for a drink of water
- shaving
- chopping vegetables
- making cool sccchting! sounds
- re-enacting scenes from Crocodile Dundee
- turning pages of a book
- looking tough in general

We encountered some monkeys and snakes during our afternoon hike, but whenever we got near, they would just run away — probably in fear of our big machetes. 

Snake: Jesus, that hairless monkey with the baseball cap has one big enough to kill a jaguar!

Monkey:  Oooo oooh aaah aaaah eeee eeeee!

But not all the animals ran away at the sight of our swords; we managed to see some red howler monkeys, a baby turtle and a family of night owl monkeys in a tree.  The only time I really put down the machete was when I swung on a vine like Tarzan — and let’s face it, swinging with machetes is just as dangerous as running with scissors.

The only thing that didn’t fear the machete were the mosquitos, and once the repellent sweated off, the jungle struck back.


AT NIGHT we took the canoes (and machetes) out to search for more nocturnal wildlife along the river.  I kept a keen eye out for things as I heard the tiny splashes of fish jumping in and out of the water quickly.  Fishing bats flew nearby in search of food, as a caiman popped its eye above the surface — they are easy to spot from far away as their eyes glow red in reflection of flashlights.  While caimans are generally shy, the green tree frogs are not; one of them jumped on my camera for a close-up.

We canoed into a small creek, carefully passed electric eels near the surface of the water.  In the darkness, Juan spotted a poisonous fer-de-lance snake swimming nearby.  Juan, who had a habit or wanting to catch snakes, tried to catch the river snake with a stick, but it quickly swam away — in the direction of base camp.

As I lay in my bed that night, I wondered if I would encounter any poisonous things while sleeping.  Call it anxiety or nervousness, but perhaps it was just the butterflies in my stomach.






Next entry: Survivor: The Amazon

Previous entry: In Deeper With A Really Big Knife




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Comments for “Slimy Yet Satisfying”

  • firsT!

    Xmas Wishlist:
    add 1 big machete

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  03:33 AM


  • i see monkey peepee..

    heehee

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  04:58 AM


  • wahaha. those pictures with your machete in one hand look like screenshots from a video game.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  01:46 PM


  • I have to say that the series of pics of you walking around with that machete reminded me of a first-person shooter game. I’m not so sure about eating live bugs, but you’d make a good Survivor.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  02:27 PM


  • i hope u washed your ass after the amazon trip….or you can keep it dirty if you run in to any ricardos again….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  02:59 PM


  • I see your swartz is as big as mines ..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  03:19 PM


  • Am I the only one who got a little aroused after seeing Erik “drink” from that log?

    Posted by matto  on  12/15  at  04:33 PM


  • I think you’re alone on that one matto…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/16  at  02:51 AM


  • What? No monkey stew?? You have to show them who’s the king of the jungle!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/16  at  03:39 AM


  • Oogy:  But they ARE the kings of the jungle…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/16  at  02:21 PM


  • I’m with you, snakes are gross.  Even grosser - swimming snakes!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/17  at  03:24 PM


  • Obsessed with large cutting instruments, much?! It’s a powerful weapon, yes? Those leaves don’t stand a chance—hehe! Yeah, I’d keep that thing handy… never know what kind of critter may jump out at you. Just promise that you’ll drop it when “nature calls”. And how can you post a Tarzan pic if you’re not wearing a loin cloth? What kind of machete-toting jungle-trekker are you?!?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/18  at  03:44 PM


  • Yakk, that slimy thing kuya Erik.. anyway, merry x-mas and we will miss you tonight.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/23  at  07:54 PM


  • I would throw up if I tried to eat it!
    Merry Christmas
    Happy Holidays,
    Mike

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/23  at  08:00 PM


  • I love how all the first pics have the machete in them - I agree - obsess much?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  12:28 AM


  • NOELLE:  Speak softly and carry a big knife! 

    Glad to see you’re playing catch-up!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  01:43 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Survivor: The Amazon

Previous entry:
In Deeper With A Really Big Knife




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