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Into the jungle
98. Elavo Inn
A violent ride at the back of a government car took us on to Kerema. Elavo Inn served delicious soup and we got to wash our clothes. After staying over night in the hotel we long to leave civilisation and start bush walking. (Kerema, Gulf Province)
99. Map Studies
Simon Peter from the local tourism office guides us through the maps from Kerema to Menyamya and tells us what we can expect. He warned us not to accept any gifts from the highland people up near Menyamya. We also should not shake hands since they have an obscure habit of chopping of hands.
104. Last Outpost
The next day we are leaving Kerema. Peter discusses the route with our guide Joe and the tourism officers. From now, we will spend two weeks out in the bush.
107. Canoe Balancing
Together with about twenty natives we left for the jungle and the Menyamya trail. We tried hard to sit absolutely still in the long motorised canoe made of a single tree trunk. It felt like it needed balancing all the time and the feeling was hard to ignore, causing nervous looks from the locals.
111. Expectations
Raising our eyes from the water, up above the palm trees and even further up, we spotted the fascinating rain forest for the first time. It was quiet, it drizzled and you could sense the awaiting adventure.
113. River Vegetation
In the jungle, the river makes frequent turns and it was a long ride for us, making us long for a little exercise to alleviate the pain from sitting still. Meanwhile, the river gave us outstanding views as well as the excitement of mistaking strange plants or seeds as being a lurking crocodile.
116. River House
On the river, we passed a small village where we left our canoe to the owners. The houses looked luxurious, maybe because of their closeness to the water. But we were surprised to find undernourished children so close to civilisation.
122. Pastor's Garden
After a short walk, Joe arranged accommodation for us at the mission house. Outside the house, there was a flower garden. Very often we saw flowers very similar to flowers we grow indoors at home. (Mapuru, Gulf Province)
126. Morning Mist
From the mission house, situated on the valley's highest hill, we awoke to this misty view. It had been an exciting night full of sounds from kakaduas and croaking frogs. Some of the sounds could have been mistaken for human screaming and your thoughts wandered to stories previously read about ancient rites you would not want to dream about.
131. Jungle Vegetation
The mist fades away and the great variety in the jungle slowly becomes visible. The birdsong is loud all the time but the birds themselves carefully hide away to avoid being easy slingshot targets.
132. Breakfast
The other people staying around the mission house brought us breakfast on enamel plates early in the morning. After breakfast, we packed our things and slid down the track.
135. Cleaning Water
There is a lot of water in the rainforest. Here we purify the water using both chloride pills and pumping the water through a ceramic filter. Never knowing when we would run out of water, we used the shrieking "water birds" as soon as we encountered some easily accessible water.
137. Downhill
Leaving Mapuro we walked down through a banana plantation. The rain that fell last night has made the ground a little slippery.
139. Escorted
On our way we met some children who happily escorted us for a while. We must have looked rather strange in their eyes, carrying backpacks larger than them.
142. Water Walk
The stones in the water could be treacherously slippy and we were careful to avoid stepping on them as much as possible. It was hot and it felt rather soothing to have our shoes filled with water.
145. Water Crossing
In the beginning we always emptied the water from our shoes after a crossing but after a while we noticed that there were too many crossings to even bother.
147. Tree Trunks
Fallen trees entice you into a mystery. The trunk making a narrow and adventurous pathway to the discovery of what is on the other side.
149. Uphill
Our track is the shortest way between the villages, meaning that we have to go up and down the steep and muddy hills. Heavily loaded backpacks made travelling a real effort.
151. Twining Trees
The majority of the various kinds of species on earth grow in the rainforest. The limited space available makes the trees creative in their endeavour to survive.
152. Hiding Place
While walking in the rainforest, we took short rest breaks. The breaks also gave us the opportunity to study the surroundings in detail and perhaps to reveal the hiding place of a colourful bird.
154. Challenging Fate
The natives' quick pace in the steep and muddy hills has made us very tired and the outspoken rule not to touch nearby plants or trees is occasionally ignored in order to keep up.
155. Sugar Cane Rescue
Suddenly, taking a short rest did not help any more. We were "de-energized". John told us "We can walk. We can eat. We can sleep." Meaning that we would soon reach a village with accommodation if we just walked. Unable to move we just sat. Luckily an old man came by offering sugar canes.
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© 1999-2002  Photos Nicklas Nordborg  Texts Peter Waller and Thomas Nilsson