It’s a sunny day and the camp is abuzz with possibility. Laundry is baking in the sun. It’s never quite clean but at least when it’s dry you can shake the dirt out. The roads are drying up and the ATV’s zip in and out to the mining camp. The river is retreating and no longer threatens to flood the camp. And the chicken that’s tied by one leg to the anaconda cage is squawking up a storm.
Although the Super Bowl is the day after tomorrow, the majority of bets in camp are being placed on the outcome of the real battle: Snake vs. Chicken. Sides have been chosen and the over/under is set. Tomorrow at high noon is the real Rumble in the Jungle. The snake seems to be where the smart money is. Although he’s just a tween, he’s easily 10 feet long. The chicken is smaller than average. But the snake is stressed from being poked, prodded and generally harassed by the locals here. He used to live in a bag on our porch, until he managed to escape. He was caught again and put in a laundry basket with a board on top. Finally, someone made a cage for him. And although temporary bloodlust has set in, most of the film crew would like to set him free. After the chicken meets his fate, a jailbreak has been planned. In the middle of the night the snake will be quietly released into the river behind camp. Perhaps the evil monkey will be “encouraged” to travel with him.
The jungle is starting to take its toll. About 10 people in camp have contracted some sort of parasite. I got mine out of the way on the first day and it was not pleasant. Most of the cast are sick now. One poor guy got stung by a swarm of bees and as he was trying to get away from them he cut his arm on the spikes of the “Bastard Tree.” The Bastard Tree must be the world’s most diabolical tree. Its trunk is covered in needle-like spires ready to spear you should you happen to brush by it or, even worse, grab it to stop yourself from falling in the slick mud. You are guaranteed a world of pain and an infection to boot.
The middle of the jungle is filled with trails that never see the light of day because of the thick canopy overhead. These trails are slick with mud that can reach your knees. Every step is treacherous and it’s a constant battle not to fall on your butt or leave a boot behind in the mud. When the natural reaction is to reach out and grab what you can so you don’t fall, it’s impossible to retrain yourself to keep your arms at your sides. The bastard tree exploits your knee-jerk reactions.
So, it was kind of a rough day for everyone except for the evil pet monkey, who I caught eating a marshmallow.