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Jungle Stories Part 2: attack by fire ants.

October 10, 2017

1st nite:   IN THE CABIN:

Ran out of my bottled water to rinse my mouth after brushing teeth. Went into the kitchen..in the dark...& took a swig from what I thought was a bottle of  water.. it turned out to be the kerosene bottle....good thing I didn't swallow it!!..... tasted that for the rest of the night!

 

2nd nite:   IN THE HAMMOCK IN THE JUNGLE:

This turned out to be  quite an eventful nite..went to bed at about  8:30 ...YES ME!!  The 3 guides stayed up another 2 hrs. drinking Tuak..(their homemade rice wine) by the dying campfire..but I was totally zonked.. Awoke a few hours later to pee.  It was so dark I literally couldn’t  tell if my eyes were open or shut!!  It was the weirdest sensation. 

 

Quietly crept out of my hammock (I had the end one) &  used my 

little flashlite to find a spot.....DIDN’T WANT TO VENTURE

TOO FAR AWAY...  you can’t see a thing in the jungle at night.... stepped on a branch which awoke Belansai.. who was in the far hammock.. & who came out to investigate the noise.  I tried to be quiet so he wouldn’t see me.. but he’s an indigenous native / hunter..of course he’s going to find me!!  He was getting closer &

closer & I was still peeing......finally realized that I better  sacrifice modesty & identify myself before I got mistaken for a wild boar or civet cat and got speared!  So I signaled with the flashlight...............

............talk about  getting caught with your pants down!

 

Back to bed...to a sound sleep, but was awakened about 1 am by Lemon (in the next hammock) shaking his mosquito net.. along with the entire structure, & cursing in his native language (all 4 hammocks were attached to a single frame)..

His flashlight had illuminated the side of my netting which I could see was covered with ants......still half asleep & figuring they were on the outside & thinking “ so what's the big deal.. after all we were in the jungle.. “   

I was starting to fall back to sleep....when I realized that Lemon had previously endured bites from leeches & a wasp .... without  flinching  .... & that maybe I better check to see why he was creating such a commotion...

Sure enuff..just as I realized a few were inside the netting.. he was

telling me to get out fast.. I jumped out on the other side with bare feet..  ....stepping on thousands of fire ants...trying to put my sandals on.. but couldn’t keep a foot on the ground long enough to put on even one.
(NOTE TO SELF:  sleep with shoes on in the jungle).

 

Finally,  holding my  sandals, I hopped to a spot near the fire that he told me to go to.  I could see that all 3 of them were sitting sideways in their hammocks shaking out the netting, smashing ants & stripping the bedding & shaking it out..moving sequentially from one end of each hammock to the other..  1 hammock at a time..1 guide was putting his bedding back together while the next one was still shaking his out...,left to right..

 

Janda shone his light on the ground under the hammocks & I could see a departing river of ants that were traveling from the left to the right & veering off between Lemon’s hammock & mine.  He was filling his mouth with kerosene (I already had learned how that tasted!!) and was spraying it on the ants.

 

By this time the other 2 guides were finished & calmly back in bed while I was still jumping around by the fire having finally succeeded inngetting my sandals on.. but still getting stung by the ants.

 

NOW I FIRST THOUGHT OF TAPING THE EVENT BUT MY CAMERA WAS STILL IN MY HAMMOCK.

 

Without even looking at my bed, Lemon told me it was safe for me to get back in the hammock..  I made him check it first anyway!!!..... but it seems that he knew their habits. They had approached from the left & veered off  just as they  had gotten to mine, when he had awoken me  (probably because of the smell from my insect repellant).  He said he felt his hands & face getting bitten & awoke to see they were all over him... Those things STING & feel like hot needles.  

 

For the next 2 nites every time I closed my eyes I saw a white netting covered with ants...! Up to that point the adventure seemed contrived..not real....Since I was paying for it, it had the feel of a  tv script that we were following..  But watching those guys shaking the ants out of the hammock, and feeling the occasional stings on my feet..brought the reality of the situation to me in no uncertain terms.  I was REALLY in the jungle & the tour co. was not in total control of the daily events..

This thought also crossed my mind each time I inched my way across a narrow ledge on the edge of a steep drop..where 1 wrong step would  have been the end of me and whoever would have tried to save me.

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Jodi Waldron        junglejaunts@gmail.com        NY, USA         &       Kuching, Malaysia, Borneo