Thursday, February 14, 2013

And You Thought YOU Had a Bad Day

Wake up late this morning? Lots of traffic? Forget your lunch or your homework? Have a boss or teacher with crazy demands? Well, I sympathize. I am sure it was not a pleasant day. But a bad day in the jungle falls into a whole different category.

Tuesday was a regional meeting for all Volunteers in the Darien, and that evening to celebrate the completion of group 67's service we went out for fried fish and plantains...followed by an epic dance party to the classics such as Cher, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and Michael Jackson. There were enough of us that we took over the restaurant and danced until midnight, before heading back to our various hostels and huts to crash. I went to sleep on Rachel's floor about 1:30am.

At 6am on the dot, her cat dive bombed from the table onto my stomach, and that was that. With the sun already pouring in the window, I was begrudgingly awake. I grabbed breakfast, ran a couple of errands and chose not to go with the rest of the group on a hike to a waterfall since I needed to get back to my community to finish my health surveys.

At 9am I sat down in the parking lot with an 8 gal tank of gasoline and my backpack to wait for my chiva that should be showing up any minute.
At 11:30am, a boy from my community found me and told me the chiva wasn't coming. We split a taxi from town to the dirt road that leads to my port, and waited with an old couple in the direct sunlight for a vehicle to go by. It was more or less 105 degrees, I think. (I didn't have a thermometer on me but a friend told me his thermometer can reach up to 120 degrees in the afternoon.)

At 1pm, a tiny white pickup came by, and agreed to let us in, but I had to sit in front. In the middle. When I climbed in, it did not have a middle seat, so I just perched on the plastic center console, with the stick shift under my knees. I was of course wearing a seat belt, and not hitch hiking. My tailbone was pretty bruised by the time we got to the port, almost an hour later.

I then got word that the crew that went hiking had a blast and were back in town, heading home by 1pm. So much for trying to be a "good volunteer".

At the port I tried to get a ride with a community member in his canoe, but he told me it was too full of beer. So I sat down on my gas tank and waited until 3pm, when a different guy from my community showed up with a stove. Not a little camping stove like I have. A full size stove and oven that you have sitting in your house right now. He told me I could ride with them, but I had to help hold the stove. He also did not have a motor, just a paddle. Thus began a 30 minute ordeal to get a skinny canoe, full sized stove, a toddler, infant, their mother, their father, and a gringa home. I was sure I was going to end up swimming, but we managed alright.

I hauled my 8 gal gas tank, now with a broken lid, to my house, gas leaking on my hands as I went. I dropped everything on my porch and headed over to Misael's house to give him the wire we needed for the project. He was not home but his wife Ida gave me a delicious fried fish and some rice. Halfway through I realized the fish probably tasted funny because I had forgotten to wash the gasoline off of my hands before eating, I had been so hungry. I immediately felt queasy, but that might have been a mental thing or a dehydration thing rather than a gasoline in my stomach thing. I went home and texted a friend to call me, and while waiting for the call, fell asleep like only Amber can. You know, that thing I do where one second I am going 60 MPH and the next I am completely comatose. (Thanks Johnny Carson, I think that is a skill I will have for life.)

I was brought back to this planet by the sound of kids climbing into my hut. I had left my bedroom door open, so immediately they were in my room, all trying to talk at once. If you have ever woken me up, or seen someone wake me up, or been in the same building when I wake up, you are well aware that I am not exactly cordial. I would like to think that I am civil on good days, but that might be being generous. In this instance, I was cranky. Really cranky. I had only been asleep for about 15 minutes, and waking up in such a manner is rough. Groaning, I sat up and opened my eyes- to see a live crocodile being dangled in front of my face.

Yup. Live. Crocodile. In. My. Face. In my hut. He was about 3' long including the tail, and one of the kids was holding him by the neck.

'Out. Get out. Get out right now. Out of my hut. Go.' was my reaction to this situation. Feel free to insert as many exclamation points as you think are necessary in those statements. I followed them out, asked them a little bit about the crocodile, and asked them what they wanted. Celidet told me her dad, Misael was back and wanted to to me right away about the project. I put on flip flops and wandered over to his house, whining to myself in English about how unfair it was that I couldn't even take a nap without the jungle interrupting.

I get to Misa's house and he is laying in his hammock. He tells me he was going to come visit me but he was too tired, so he sent his daughter to have me come to him. Misa told me that he was too tired from fishing to work on his latrine today. I was first relieved and then second angry that I had been woken up just to say we weren't working. I told him that was fine and we agreed to meet after breakfast the next day, and I immediately left. I made sure to shut and latch my door when I got home and went back to my nap.

In retrospect, it is pretty hilarious to think that I got woken up with a crocodile after the dozens of ways my college rommates threatened (and tried) to wake me up when I would sleep through my alarms for hours. Let's just say, to everyone who has ever tried to wake me up for anything ever, my family members, my friends at sleepovers, my roommates, my fellow classmates in college, my coworkers, that this blog is dedicated to you guys. You now have your retribution through a group of Embera kids and a crocodile. Let's call that even, shall we?

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