That title is a lie, I don’t think it was the Amazon river – I would just be piranha bait, but it was a river in the Amazon. Before we get to that though, let me tell you about the pharmacy that is the jungle. There is a reason the tribes across the Amazon worship Pachamama – mother Earth. The same reason they could survive into their teen years with zero Western medicine and help. Because as far as they are concerned, the jungle gives them everything they need to survive.
There are animals for food, I think I even saw a pheasant once. There is water from various streams, Ernesto showed us how to fold a leaf into a makeshift scoop so we could drink more of it. There are plants and trees with various medicines and flavours. I ate tree bark that contained quinine – malaria medication. And bark of another tree, ajo macho, that tasted just like garlic.
We were there during dry season, so it was very hot. But since it’s the rainforest, it is often wet and cold. The cure for this – red ants. You find a red ant tree, scoop out a few of them, and place them on different parts of your body. I wasn’t willing to try, Rory gave it a go. Ernesto put the red ants on his arm, they bit him. The sting then heated up his whole arm. It’s an amazing form of central heating.
To end our trip, we were painted in jungle tattoos. A fruit know is a limanzana (I don’t know the english), has a kind of blue ink that can stain the skin for days. I had a jaguar paw print and a spider painted on the inside of both my arms, and a native woman painted on my right shoulder. I’ve never like the idea of tattoos, being happy with the body I have, and also finding scars far more interesting. But I did like my tattoos and I was sad when they faded away a couple of weeks later.
The last part of our trip involved fishing with makeshift rods. Fishing lines and hooks attached to a piece of foam. The current took the lines all the way downstream until they got stuck in rocks. We would pull them out and try again, soon we were both bored of wasting our time, and instead decided to swim. Having left my trunks at the base camp, I elected to go naked. Rory had a different plan. He tied his shirt around his trousers. It was hilarious, it looked like he was wearing a giant nappy. My only regret was that I didn’t capture it on film, it would have made the finest blackmail material.