Monday, August 25, 2014

setting up camp in the mangroves

the next morning we wake up early to pack the bago-bago, which would bring our supplies to the campsite. the bago-bago is the lifeline of the Delta region, it brings goods up and down the river...albeit at a snails pace (we gave it a two-hour head start but still caught up with it midway). it's called the bago-bago because you can hear ist rusty engine from a mile away bagobagobagobagobagobago, it sounds like a coughing lawnmower.
so we packed our little speedboat boat at this little beach where women and children were bathing and washing dishes and clothes with sand.

we pack the bago-bago, arrange our own motorboat, load it up, go back to town to get whiskey and cigarettes (this is important - you always want to stand next to a smoker when there are mosquitos), trying not to get stuck in the presidential motorcade and madness, and finally we're off. we wear our smelly and uncomfortable lifevests, the outboard engine finally starts (the cord which you pull to the start the motor has come up so kunat needs to open the lid, wrap the cord around, pull, start again...). it's been hours since we have been up and we are finally ready to go! i am settling in my seat, everyone is getting comfortable and kunat asks
"anyone hungry? let's stop for lunch" doh! we go maybe 20 m upriver and dock at the same place we had dinner the night before. after all this work and waiting and loading it's like we've gone full circle back to the beginning. the men order beers and here we go. we still catch up with the bago-bago, and yes, we arrive at camp when it's already night, cold, and plenty mosquito-ey.
there are a few huts lit up by the moon sitting beyond a field of mud. there is a fire in one hut which we quickly huddle around. it's super smokey and stings our eyes, but that is way more bearable than the mosquitos. a bunch of blank eyed fisherman are standing around in puffy winter jackets, sucking on plastic bags of gin. Helga looks at me, like, is this seriously how we will spend the next 8 days? i pretend to ignore her and we sip on whiskey from the bottle and eventually, we hear the sound of the bago-bago. everyone helps unload, but the women are allowed to sit and do nothing, not bad.
we set up a few tents and try to sleep. in the morning we see what the place looks like. huts, tents, amid a pile of supplies and a wafting stench of fish.  kunat is wearing an awesome t-shirt that says "Trouble finds me, even in camouflage." and here is where we will be for the next 8 days. 

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