Wednesday, March 14, 2007

In Case Any of You Decide to Join a Trip of Mine

In case any of you might ever want to join me on one of my trips to the Amazon--and some people actually do, if you can imagine that--this is part of a letter I just wrote an April group and will give you an idea of what to bring and what the basic rules of the trips are.

As to things to bring: I'll send the official list in a couple of days. I've been told that it's hopelessly male-oriented, so I'll try to correct that and suggest a makeup mirror, and other girly things--though I'm sort of lost because I am not a girl; anyone who can help, help--otherwise, just know when you get the list that some women have complained they miss certain things and then add them as you know how.
But the key is that this trip does not require you to buy 500 bucks of jungle clothes. Mostly I want loose, comfortable shorts and shirts; a windbreaker, a couple of pairs of old sneaks, a flashlight, personal hygene kit, one long sleeved shirt and at least two long loose pairs of pants, socks you can tuck your pants into during ceremony, a hat, any food needs you have to have (like your own stash of pistachios or fruit roll-ups). Keep it simple and know that we can buy anything you need in Iquitos pretty cheaply so if you come without a bag we can probably outfit you for the whole trip for 100 bucks.
NO NEED to buy fancy boots: In the jungle we use highish rubber boots for walking in muck and I'll provide those. I'll also provide flashlights for those who forget them, hammocks/mosquito nets, towels, soap, blankets and so forth. So don't get carried away. IF you want to, that's fine, but it's not necessary. You want a machete? We'll pick one up for you in Belen's market. So you're covered.
If, on the other hand, you've got something you love doing, like bird watching, then bring your own binocs. I've got a group pair but it's not meant to be hogged by anyone. If you're an artist, bring your own sketch pad as Iquitos doesn't have good ones. It doesn't have good sketch pencils either. Fair warning. But Iquitos does have good, cheap internet, phones, wonderful things to buy (so bring a few bucks of mad money), inexpensive emergency cameras/ film, batteries, medications, shampoo, rain don't sweat the small stuff.
Now: Four quick rules for those who havn't heard them. For those who have, I apologize for boring you.
Rule #1: There is no requesting, teasing, buying cocaine. You do it you are off the trip. I've lost too many friends caught in the middle over that one down there. It's available but not if you're with me.
Rule #2: No asking about marijuana. I'm much too hot a political character down there, or fashion myself that, to have my rotten reputation further ruined by having shoeshine boys tell the US DEA that my groups smoke pot. I can handle what you need but go through me. We will already have more medicine than you need, I promise, and you can smoke a joint at home. Please go along with me on this one.
Rule #3: NO sex with anyone/anything younger than 18. I'm not going to go to jail for you, okay? Iquitos is a very hot place, very sexy. In my world you should be able to do anything you like with any consenting dog, cat, crocodile or whatever so long as you are both adults. In my world adult is 18. That's a fixed rule.
Rule #4: If I do anything you don't like, or anything sucks in your opinion, or if something, anything is bothering you, you must tell me. You may not keep it in and bring us all down with a seething, bad attitude. You can simply tell me or, if you're shy or not full of words, just come up to me and punch me in either arm, between the elbow and shoulder, as hard as you need to get my attention, and then tell me what's wrong. I promise to try to rectify it. But no stinking pouting cause you don't like the rice. Just punch me and the next night I'll have spaghetti instead of rice, okay?

The opening and closing of the missive was directed at this group in particular and had to do with medications, diets, special needs, arrival times and so forth and wouldn't have been interesting to those not on a trip. But I think the rules are legit and should steer you well regardless of where you travel.
So get out there and see the world, won't you? It's all messed up but still so very very wonderful for the most part.

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