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Jungle Walks


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My co-worker and I used to take long walks along sometimes barely visible jungle trails, machetes in hand. I remember her asking about the various scurrying noises we heard along the way. The airstrip may have been a safer environment, but the jungle was definitely cooler. The jungle also had the mysterious element of “where would this trail lead us?”One such day the trail we explored led to the river’s edge. Looking down at the cool river water my co-worker asked, “Should we take a swim?” She wasn’t ready for my negative response.

Laughing, I had to explain that the text I’d been transcribing for language study that week had been two true stories from the lives of the villagers. The first was about a mountain lion that had terrorized the village, keeping people locked behind the doors of their houses for safety. That having been a true story, I was impressed that I was out in the jungle that day at all.

But the second story, it was about an anaconda wrapping itself around one of the Maquiritare men. Being a strong man of sturdy build, he had managed to chop the anaconda with sufficient strength with his machete to deter the attack. I didn’t figure I would have such luck. I lacked the sturdy build and the strength! I also had to admit that being squeezed to death and then swallowed by an anaconda hit near the top of my most non-desirable methods of dying!

We didn’t swim that day, but we did continue our walk in the jungle.

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