Trip To Jau National Park

Mario Cohn-Haft - December 1996

    I’ll only return to the campina if we’re dropped in by helicopter!

While on the subject of discomfort, I may as well mention the two worst things that happened to me, right at the beginning of the trip, and entirely my fault. First of all, while still on the big boat going up the Rio Negro, I couldn’t resist the water at midday and decided to plunge in off the stern, holding onto the ropes tied to 2 aluminum outboards in tow. This story is best told in person with lots of arm-waving, but the message is: don’t dangle off a fast-moving boat without tying your bathing suit first!

Then, a couple days later, on our first predawn assault on the campina, I had been walking only about 10 minutes with my headlamp when my way was blocked by a big palm frond, with a stem the diameter of a baseball bat, lying across the trail. Somehow, I felt the need to break it rather than walk around it. Although I actually thought, moments before stepping on it with all my weight, that it was in a perfect position to pop up and smack me in the head, that didn’t stop me or it from realizing our destinies. I stepped and it smacked—harder than anything else I’ve ever felt. I had to stop and sit and catch my breath for about 10 minutes. I wasn’t sure if I was going to feel better quick or if my vision was going to cloud over and I’d pass out. Fortunately the former occurred, although my jaw hurt so much in certain positions that I couldn’t yawn for several days.

Next time, it’s by helicopter.

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