Expedition to Travel the Length of the Amazon River
by Jacki Hill-Murphy
Instigator and bashful leader.
September 5th 2016
One month to go and I feel like I am on a countdown.
Each morning I wake up and check my list for the day – and add to it with my night-time jungle wanderings. The e mails that need responding to are relentless; a bit like the river I will be descending along.
The appeal of this 4,200 miles of dark, muddy water is its mystery, we are brave enough to enter this unknown world, but a very large proportion of the population wouldn’t want to go near it. It’s like asking them to become a fictional creation like Poirot – why would you want to investigate a murder? Or to sit in a field awaiting an alien to make a crop circle – why bother, it’s the unknown, it is unknown and it brings with it danger or a lot of sitting around waiting for something to happen.
Sitting down. I hope the team have thought about this; they will be sitting down at water level, when in the dug-out, with knees bent , for many days. There will be a little, roughly hewn, hard bench in which to park our back-sides and then the dug-out will slide slowly away from the bank and we will watch the jungle flow, like a moving picture beside us. No cover, no window to look through, we will be on the equivalent of a motorbike on the M4, smelling the air, feeling the breeze and the full force of nature when the rain pelts us or a storm crashes crazily through the forest.
A green world will flow past us, an enormous mansion that crumbles with primeval finality into the river, then slowly floats downstream beneath the surface before gathering on a bend, a skeletal graveyard of rotting wood and protruding limbs . The Indian spotter is there, at the prow, watching the boat cut through the water, his experienced eye trained to spot the trunks that can upturn us in a split second and his pole will ease us away from the monsters that lie in the murky water below us.
I don’t feel danger. Perhaps I should as I wait for a branch to move and became something that could bite or attack us. I hope I will remain calm; I’ve been there before, I am prepared, but who can tell what will be there this time.
For now the river is in my head, as I tick tasks off a list. I am about as immersed in 21st century technology as it’s possible to be and it will all start again tomorrow morning when I awake and add to that growing list!