I’ve been in the small town of Misuhalli, at the edge of the Ecuadorian Amazon, for nearly 3 weeks now. My idea to build a river raft, form a crew and venture deep into the jungle has turned from just a concept to a plan in motion… and day by day it's gaining momentum.
I’ve been running around town gathering information from different sources and slowly forming a plan for the expedition. There really is a lot to consider and a lot of pitfalls to keep clear of, but I think I can manage it.
The biggest obstacle for me has been my lack of Spanish… sure makes it difficult to gather information when you can’t understand it haha but I have been in South America for 4 months now and I’m starting to pick up the language: every day I’m getting a more talkative and little by little I’m understanding more.
The next biggest problem is that I’m a fucking white boy gringo in Misahualli. It’s like walking around with a neon sign saying ‘please rip me off’. Everybody's trying to take my money.. Every man and his dog is a bloody boat builder, tour guide and jungle expert… if that’s what you’re looking for. Shit, they don’t care. If you get 2 days down the river before the raft falls apart well that’s far enough for them — they’re away with ya money and you’re up shit creek in a bottomless balsa…
… But, I think I’ve found my guy. Jumbo (pronounced yumbo) is a local bloke, must be in his 40s, and seems to have a lot of experience with the jungle and building balsas (river rafts from balsa wood). He has a spot by the river where we can construct the balsa and all the knowledge and tools to make it happen, and with a price tag of US$250, it’s within my budget… I just want to sit on the idea for a few more days, but he said as soon as I’m ready we can go into the forest, collect the materials and begin the construction.
Crew is obviously the next big thing to orgainse before the expo can kick off, but I feel like that’s all going to fall into place when the conditions and timing are right, so not so worried about it.
A couple of other bits and pieces to put together like medical kit, fishing gear, cooking utensils and probably a little solar panel, but other than that it’s only jungle knowledge that I’m lacking. Jumbo said he can take me on some day trips and teach me to identify the edible and medicinal plants that grow in the forest, and I’m picking up other little tips and tricks from around town, so in time I’ll have all that under my belt too… the rest will come on the expedition….