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Thursday, October 17, 2019

My Family's Three Days in the Amazon Jungle

Huts in the Amazon Jungle
In the summer of 2016 my family and I went to Ecuador - an incredibly beautiful and safe country. I absolutely loved Quito and was thinking it would be a great place to live if Hillary won the election because at the time Rafael Correa was President of Ecuador. He had declared that there would be no abortion in Ecuador. As he said, "There will be no killing of Ecuadorian children." Sadly he is gone now and Ecuador is currently killing its children. But I digress.

With all the current talk about the Amazon and how wonderful it is, I thought I'd share my family's time spent in the Amazon Jungle. I'll break the suspense and say up front that my older daughter got so terribly ill that if not for modern medicine, that is, real doctors and pills and not an indigenous tribal shaman or medicine doctor shaking rattles and such, she might have died. 

My family spent 5 weeks in Ecuador that summer - I was there only 10 days - and at the very end of their trip they hired a guide into the Amazon Jungle for three days and two nights. They traveled to a town near the border where they found a guide. The guide was a local indigenous Indian who lived in town with his wife and two small children. They lived in town so that the children could go to school, and also where the man was employed in a regular job of some sort. So #1 - living in town is better than living in the actual jungle like their ancestors.

The one requirement for my family to visit the compound for three days was that they had to have rubber boots for walking through the mud. So they bought boots and were on the way to their adventure.

They were taken by the man and his wife and their 2 small children in their large car with supplies, a dog and a cockatoo several miles away to the guide's primitive "compound" in the jungle. He and his wife owned this compound which consisted of a few huts near the banks of a river. There was no electricity, no toilet, no screens, no nothing - except netting over the sleeping area at night. This was the real deal of experiencing what it's like to live in the Amazon. Therefore #2 - Indians owning land in the Amazon can make money from tourists.

The man was their constant, very excellent and kind guide and companion, while the woman and two small children occupied themselves in their hut and its nearby surroundings. The woman cooked all meals for everyone.

I asked whatever did you eat and what did you do all that time? Well, they said, one day the the man showed them how to make face paint from plants. So they collected and boiled some roots or something, made face paint and took pictures of themselves all painted up with feathers.

One night the woman cooked up some animals - I've forgotten what they were...maybe guinea pigs since they're a delicacy in South America. It could have been frogs. Maybe both! While the guide and my son-in-law happily ate their entire portions, my daughter and granddaughter took one bite and couldn't eat anymore of theirs. They had brought packaged snacks to tide them over until breakfast where the woman made tortillas (?) from scratch, cooked over a fire, which were delicious, and eggs from a cooler brought from town. 

The second day there the man took them down to the river. My family donned their rubber boots and walked behind the man who hacked his way through the jungle's bushes and vines with a machete. At one point he found a live baby anaconda under a rock or somewhere and picked it up, showed it to them hanging over his machete, then replaced it where it had been. Then he took them to the river for several hours on a scenic canoe trip. Somewhere on that trek my daughter's jeans, which had been tucked into the top of her rubber boots, came loose out of the boots, and mosquitoes entered and bit her all up and down her legs.

My daughter has always been a prime target of insects. When she was a child we'd go for a walk or climb a mountain or go to the beach and she'd return covered with bites while none of the rest of us had any at all. The foreign insects in the jungle loved her. That was the summer of the outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

While my family had a truly wonderful, memorable and interesting time which they will always cherish, the trip's memorableness wasn't over upon exiting the jungle. The bites on my daughter's legs had turned red and blown up so they went to a clinic in the town and got medicine. Since it was the end of summer and time for their scheduled flight back to America, they returned home.

A few days after returning home, her painfully swollen legs (and arms) were a raging red color, seriously infected and getting worse each hour. I was horrified when I saw them. She had to get treated at the ER where they gave her even more medicine. Eventually - and I mean eventually, as in very slowly - she healed. Thankfully. I shudder to think what would have happened had she, for instance, stayed in the Amazon Jungle for a month with no resort to modern medicine.
Everglades chickee hut

Lesson being - the Amazon Jungle isn't really a great place to live because even the natives don't live there. They're intelligent people so live in a civilized town, wear civilized clothing, have jobs, send their children to school and are Christians. 

Of course most are protestant because of the Catholic Church's non-Catholic Liberation Theology in South America...the same Liberation Theology which in the 1970s formed base communities which then turned into protestant communities ...the same Liberation Theology that currently is being promulgated at the Vatican's Amazon Synod by Bergoglio and the South American bishops. 

Catholic bishops need to stop whining that protestants are converting Catholics in Central and South America. It's their own fault. When the Church stops being Catholic and people want to know Christ they will obviously turn to Evangelical Protestantism. Why? Because there's more "Christ" in Evangelical Protestantism than there is in "Catholic" Liberation Theology.

Why doesn't the Church do a Pan-Everglades Synod? Americans don't have to go to South America to live like an Indian. We can go to the Florida Everglades, rent a chickee hut and get eaten up by mosquitoes there (although I truly would like to spend a few nights in the Everglades in just such a hut looking at the night sky, listening to the sounds of frogs and crickets and the hopefully distant croaking of alligators). Spoiler alert - in modern-day Florida we have screens and the county sprays for mosquitoes.