Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Day 4- Life in the Village

Poop straight into the sea!

The Kuna rise at the unconventional and impractical hour of four. Sleeping in until eight o’clock felt like a guilty indulgence against the backdrop of people up and about cleaning and working well before the sun breaks. So we arose and made a further dent in the shop’s supply of baked beans, drank coffee and laid out our meagre supplies hastily souvenired from the boat when we abandoned ship. Things were grim if not heavily salted. What we had grabbed consisted mainly of snackfoods and noodles, the supplemental goodies we had brought on this trip ourselves in case of unsatisfying included fare. Laid out on the table, our supplies resembled the ragged contents of a student pantry; odd noodles, coffee, chips and peanuts and loose-end spices along with other scraps of gastronomic flotsam.

With nothing else to occupy us, our bellies became hot topic number one. It was decided to send a party back to the boat to recover some of the more substantial ingredients we’d seen airborne in the cabin on the first night. The major hurdle we faced in getting back to the nautical pantry was crossing the bay on which Mansucum sat. To do this we tried to enlist the help of the locals, but it seemed suspiciously like they were under strict orders not to let us back near the scene of the crime. We were given a litany of reasons as to why we could not return; the walk was too long; the boat is broken into lots of little pieces; the boat isn’t there anymore; there’s nothing on the boat anymore. Our host relayed such a list to us as he was unloading his canoe of cans of tinned food and dozens of eggs, remarkably similar to what we had seen aboard our ship previously. So we were stuck in Mansucum without food and very little money and no way of accessing either. We asked our host if we could maybe have some of the booty he’d found and his wife was now cooking up. And so began a rather sticky affair in which we were cast as the ungrateful visitors and the bane of the elderly woman who lived with our host. Old people muttering to express dissatisfaction with someone or something are a phenomenon so universal it has even shown up here, I thought as we guiltily pleaded for something to cook for dinner.

The tiny huts on stilts over the water are the toilets

After negotiations we came away with some supplies (I think they only gave us the cabbage because they had no idea what it was for). Later in the day the rest of the treasure turned up in town. It seemed that the villagers had spent all morning cleaning out the ship- virtually the entire contents of the boat were now being unloaded from canoes and causing considerable excitement among the populace. Everything was stored behind one of the only locakable doors in town in the room below our bedroom. We salvaged some damp mattresses and pillows so that we could give our hosts back the use of their living room.

As I was watching the unloading of the booty, I heard a blood-curdling miniature scream from below me. Looking down, I realised I had inadvertently surprised a wandering toddler, who had only spotted me when I was far too close for comfort. The nappied child ran in two complete circles, arms flailing above his head as his eyes filled with tears of pure horror. He saw his mother, and sprinted as fast as his stumpy legs and developing sense of balance would allow, darting behind her skirt, where he jumped onto her legs and latched upon them like a koala, still wailing in pure terror. Of course this created quite a spectacle, of which I was a main, and unwilling player. It seemed that not all the locals were used to our presence yet.

We often had an audience of brave kids at the door, even when we were asleep photo:Char

Angie and Charlotte managed to construct a curry for dinner, which we greedily inhaled before getting started on the other bottle of rum rescued from certain premature oblivion. The night passed in this fashion, and we were joined by some of the local teenagers, so there was an impromptu guitar concert before bed.

Deep in the night, we were awoken by a series of girlish screams. ‘Holy F**K! F**K F**K F**K!!! Fuck ME!! Holy JESUS!! Oh my God- F**K!!!’

Everyone freaked out at this, wondering what could elicit such an outrageous response from the ever-uber-excitable J2.

‘A f**ken SPIDER, man!! Right in my armpit!!! F**ken JESUS!!!’ Those sleeping on the floor, rather in hammocks, were a little put out by the possibillty of a “F**ken MASSIVE, man’ tarantula curiously exploring these strange new smelling beasts in what was usually an empty room. Grabbing for torches, we drowsily scouted the edges of the room. A dark flash scooted between some old paint tins. It was obviously a mouse, not nearly as worrisome as hairy arachnids. J2, worked up and still yelling about his ordeal a full five minutes later, had parked himself on a pair of plastic chairs, and now that he had made sure everyone was awake, was preparing to sleep safely suspended off the floor. ‘A mouse? A MOUSE? But did you see the size of TEETH on that mouse?!? F**king HUGE!!!’

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