Lost? Confused? Uncertain as to why your here? Well I can’t really help with that – too extisential- BUT if you want to get to the beginning of “Witch Doctors, Wine Coolers and Woe” go here ( and of course if you are a meth addict idly scratching and picking at your brand new Russian star prison tat and want to know if you should tip the guy who inked you go here here and here)
Roxanne: When you’re getting love letters, you don’t go around trying to compare the signature to the handwriting.
C.D.: You wanna know why? ‘Cause you wanted to believe it. You wanted it all. All the romance and emotion, all wrapped up in a cute little nose and a cute little ass!
Roxanne: You even got me in bed.
C.D.: Yeah. Yeah, what about that? You went to bed with him on your first date.
Roxanne: Only because you seduced me. I would have never gone to bed with him otherwise.
C.D.: You still went to bed with him awfully fast! A few frilly words and you’re counting ceiling tiles.
Roxanne: I don’t even consider that I went to bed with him!
C.D.: Well, somebody was up there, and it’s for goddamn sure it wasn’t me!
Do you remember the movie “Roxanne” with Steve Martin effortlessly ageless and charming and Daryl Hannah sweet and pretty before she got sort of weird? Well I reference it here because by this point in my travels my feelings for Paul had completely dissipated and I felt a little confused. Where were all the promises of passion? The declarations of love? The vow to see the world together and then…who knew? Like Roxanne I had fallen in love with the words and wanted to believe they were real. But unlike Roxanne there was no erudite, charming and attentive man (albeit with a giant nose) quietly biding his time in the wings hoping for a chance to make good on his written promises and prove his love to me. Nope. It was just Paul and Paul and I were not a couple – the whole thing a mirage that disappeared under close inspection.
Luckily I was 23 and fickle so I was able to mend my battered ego and very slightly bruised heart by transferring my affections to someone else almost immediately – Julio of last weeks heroic frog sweeping episode. After tucking us into our hammocks that night like the giant babies we were Julio opted to sleep on the Land Rover and left us to our fate. I didn’t sleep that night, not really. I just lay there slowly twisting in the wind (literally) wondering if I had really screwed up by hitching my wagon to Paul’s for such a long journey. Even at this early juncture I was forming a plan to leave him behind and strike out on my own. But first – La Gran Sabana.
Julio was up with the sun and made us cowboy coffee and a simple breakfast which we all devoured. Then, rumpled and bleary-eyed it was time to pack up and crawl back into the Rover for more driving. The 12 hours to get to this border town had been just the beginning – now the real driving began. Within a couple of hours the concept of “roads” was abandoned completely as we navigated over small-ish boulders, through active stream beds and down gulleys that did not look like you were supposed to drive into them – Not. At. All. (Freaking Land Rovers man – pretty awesome.) Finally after what seemed like a month of bone rattling travel we arrived at our first waterfall (remember, I had been promised 5 – FIVE waterfalls! by Uvo)
I never saw Angel Falls so I don’t know what I was supposed to compare it too but this waterfall seemed pretty damn spectacular – set amidst the jungle foliage with the sun casting rainbows in the mist of the falls it took my breath away. We spent a couple of hours there just exploring and climbing over the rocks and checking things out. It was here I realized my personal goal and saw a Morpho Butterly flitting in between some giant palm fronds. It was even lovelier – and larger – than I could have imagined. After a bit more knocking around it was back to the Rover and a fast 4 hour drive to camp.
We had entered the realm of the Tepui the tabletop mountains La Gran Sabana is famous for – and they truly lived up to their name. They dominated the horizon line as we looked out over endless acres of level grassland. Our “camp” was a series of thatched tent enclosures with a few simple outbuildings. Once again we strung our hammocks and laid out our supplies. As our guide one of Julio’s jobs was to prepare food for us but by his own admission he was not much of a cook so he asked for an assistant. Guess who volunteered? I helped Julio comb through the food supplies and we decided on the chicken as it wouldn’t stay cold for much longer. But how to cook it? He suggested boiling. Ok, Julio is not a chef, I get it. No worries. I rustled around and came up with peanut oil, flour and corn flakes. Oh yeah – cornflake fried chicken.
The sun was setting quickly and we lit out lanterns to keep the night back. Julio and I set up a cook station on the large wooden table with my small camp stove and a few metal pans to dredge the chicken in. (I felt so competent with my tongs and my headlamp – like on one of those extreme cooking shows- before they were even invented! What a trendsetter!) Julio looked pretty skeptical when I put the chicken in the cornflakes but after 15 minutes or so I had flawlessly recreated a picnic staple from my childhood. We paired it with fried slices of plantain and minute rice. Perhaps I imagined it but the look Julio gave me after his first bite seemed awfully affectionate. Bellies full and everyone exhausted we cleaned up and crawled into our hammocks – the odd swaying motion now feeling a little more familiar and the night cool and completely silent around us – and quickly fell asleep.
The sun woke me and I cracked my eyes open to the sound of the camp already bustling . I jumped down from my hammock and walked directly into Frank. In his underwear. His tighty whitey underwear and nothing else. The sun gleaming off of his marble white skin – his nipples at eye level. “Goot morning ok?” “Coffee ok?” Sure Frank, coffee ok. I took my graciously offered tin mug and turned directly into Walter…in nothing but his tighty whitites and a smile. “Yes Good morning hello”. Yes, hello hello (please put on pants) hello. I headed over to the supply table – trying to find the girls. I found them all right. Who knew Eastern European women also wore tighty whities. Was it a theme party? Did I miss a memo? Now I am not especially prudish but so many people frolicking about in their overtly snug underwear and nothing else – especially first thing in the morning before coffee – was putting me off my feed. Then Paul came around the corner from our washroom area – Fully. Clothed. Thank you Paul, for your British Reserve.
After everyone had finally put some goddamned pants on we shouldered our packs and headed towards the shimmering mountain in the distance – another waterfall to look forward to. After our chicken bonding experience and me still reeling from the mornings fashion show (So much white skin! So many nipples!) I kept a brisk pace with Julio and let the others fall behind.