Ants and weird animals that look like cats but with long noses and big teeth. After the first day, I thought ‘I am going to die’. Die. But a few days later, I left with lots of fresh life.
Nothing like a few days in the jungle to clear your head and change your priorities. I have been talking to Argentina's students about their huge inflation and getting info on the country's most important election in a generation happening now. Political blah, blah, blah. I love it.
But five of those who are supposed to be studying coerced me into joining them for a trip to the Misiones Provinces--a long way from the comforts of Buenos Aires. (Quilmes. Did you know college students in Argentina drink prodigious amounts of very cheap beer? I had no idea, as my best higher educational years were spent sheltered in Provo.)
Even though the students (and a local guy named Benjamin), treated me like royalty--still, it turns out there is a lot of walking around involved in camping. The jungle is so thick you can barely see the sky. Without trails or handicapped zones! I kept telling them that the number one cause of injury for people over 60 is--falls--apparently; the translation wasn't strong as my words of caution made no impact whatsoever.
It is kinda dark, even in the daytime and it is a mind-field of roots and stuff easy to trip over for the non-attentive. Perilous. Not to mention Vipers (which thank God, I saw none.)
After the first day, I thought I am going to die. Die. There was no escape.
Plus, I was out of touch with the world. No MSNBC. No breathless breaking news. No information on what new outrage Trump kiss-ass Chris Stewart is up to.
Just endless, people less, lush subtropical forests. But after a while, I could feel the tension leaving in me. I evolved. After a couple of days, my internal 'busy' clock got turned off. A jungle rhythm kicked in. The beauty of it all overwhelmed. Camping in clearings, with stars so bright--you can almost touch them! How pathetic of me to be so old before discovering how endlessly fascinating a flock of butterflies can be.
Now, I am thinking about staying forever.... OK, I will be back, but I think I have changed. Facing a nasty City Council does not seem like my highest purpose!
The local kid, Benjamin, our unofficial guide, is about 21; he is a friend of one of the girls in our group. Benjamin is a handsome, upbeat, fun, an oddly shy yet life of the party kind of guy. He has never been out of Misiones Provinces. But made us all laugh and took care of us like a mother-hen. Truthfully, I was not the only basket case, some of those city slickers from Buenos Aries were just as shabby at jungle life as I was.
Although Benjamin covered up quite skillfully for the first day, he slowly let his guard down and we noticed Benjamin's four top front teeth had rotted out--leaving dark stumps. With his situation, the teeth were destined to never be replaced.
Someone in the group suggested we conspire. After we arrived in Iguazú (the big city) two of the students went to see a dentist. We chipped in. Arrangements were made. Feigning a toothache, one of the students asked Benjamin to accompany her to the dentist. What Benjamin didn't know is that he was being punked. Everything had already been agreed to and paid. Benjamin was ushered right to a dental suite where they made a mold of his front teeth. His new teeth would be ready at 18:00 the next day.
That night we went across the Iguazu River to Brazil for a 'the old man didn't die' farewell dinner. Even though I couldn't understand the words, I hope no one saw me get a little emotional when Benjamin said a thank you toast. Something about his life-changing forever....
After dinner, in a real hotel room with real hot water, $6 chips in the mini-bar, and full WiFi, I breathlessly 'You Tubed' Rachel--to see all I had missed. After about 30 seconds, I decided I actually don't give a shit about all that yammering.
I turned out the light, put my Ambien back in the bottle and had a great night's sleep.
(PS, I won't post it but next time you see me, ask me to show you Benjamin's texted smile photo! It is awesome.)