I woke up feeling like shit; my bed was stupidly uncomfortable. Due to its layout I had practically been sleeping on 2 sticks. I was cold, it was pitch black and I waited for daylight. I figure I was without a fire for 6 hours. As I had no watch I based this assumption on the lack of scary Howler Monkey sounds which are supposed to start at 3 am. I think I was only able to doze for a few hours at the most.
Once I came to (which took a while) I slowly added more kutkrit palms to my roof. I was lucky that it didn't rain much last night - tonight may be a different story. I didn't want to be cold and wet! Whilst skimming the sharp corners off the palms with my machete I slice into my thump. Instant blood. 1st aid required. I blame it on being lethargic and tired. I continue and build up a decent roof, and the stems I use to make a very comfortable bed. They were all the same height and had a little springy give in them. Arrrr... I was looking forward to night time already!
I then stumble upon the remains of an old shelter and decide it'd make good fire wood. So I haul it back to base. Time for fishing - only I lost my Yari Yari (fishing) rod so I fashion myself a rough looking new one and add a hook and line. Then, whilst chopping up the tiny kutkrit nuts for grubs to use for bait, I literally cleave off a slice from the top of my left middle finger - right through the nail. Bugger. Well it's still hanging on a bit so I decide to leave it there and wash it out in the Piranha infested river (where else?). I could feel the end flapping about as I swished it around in the water. I apply 1st aid. There is nothing more anyone else can do for it so I continue fishing, but I leave the nut cracking for now! For all my efforts I catch 1 tiny catfish, bait size! Oh, a wise Amerindian recently told me that a sharp machete makes an excellent slave but it has no honour. I now understand.
It looks like late afternoon so I hang up my marker tape on an overhanging tree by the river so the search team know where I am and head home to start a fire. It starts on my 3rd attempt. Phew! (My silk cotton was running out!) Despite being very tired I start chopping wood. I notice a huge blister on my right fore finger caused by using the machete - arse. I bandage it with my grubby sweatband.
Whilst chopping up a length of old bamboo, from a hole I'd just made, swarms of 1000s of big red fire ants came gushing out and coated then entire log! Woah! There were so many it was unreal. It looked like a scene from "The Mummy Returns" or any similar Hollywood film! Forget chopping, that whole bamboo log went straight on the fire! As it was, there and then! Burn suckers, burn!
I chopped and I chopped and I chopped me up a shed load of fire wood but I still had a feeling it wouldn't be enough for a 12 hour blaze.
Jungle = 12 hours daylight + 12 hours blackness
I stoked up the fire, had a rest and fell asleep. When I woke up some time later I had no clue as to where I was. It was pitch black. I stumbled around looking for a light switch. When I couldn't find one I realised I was outside. Strange, where was everyone else? There was no light, but plenty of rain and then I noticed some slight red glowing embers on the floor. The penny drops, it all comes back to me.
I'm in the jungle, all alone. Crap.
I look at the fire. It went out some time ago. Double crap.
Methodical panic ensues as I fumble about on the floor for the tiny twigs and dried leaves I had prepared earlier for such an event. Then, after some character building moments I brought my fire back to fire. The phoenix rises from the ashes once again!
There is an art to keeping a flame going on a fire for 12 hours as I found out, especially after several close calls. You need a flame to burn fresh bits of wood, especially when it's damp and raining out side. (Most logs were in the shelter but the rain still found it's way in.) It rained hard throughout most of the night and only a couple of drops / drips made it through the roof. I also took many, many micro naps (waking up with a jolt, determined not to let the fire go out again). With my new comfy kutkrit palm bed I was warm and cosy (well sweating hard to be honest!) and when I called it a night at 4am (ish) I slept well into mid morning.
Posted by Steve Eynon