Buenos Aires

Day 22

April 17, 2018 

This week is the one-year anniversary of my expedition down the Rio Apaporis, a major tributary of the Amazon that begins near the west coast of Colombia. The story is, like most great stories I suppose, very easy to sensationalize. But the sensational parts are just that — parts of a whole. The story in its entirety has overwhelmed me, making my efforts to write about it difficult and slow. But as the anniversary approaches, my body has been taken over by all these strange feelings that are scratching at my insides to get outside. So I am going to share a little bit about my story now, with hopes that it will help me sleep well tonight.

I have kept my trip journal in the nightstand by my bed every day for almost one year now. I use it as a reference when writing and reflecting on what happened. So much happened. While I work out how to put the entirety of my story into words I thought perhaps I would share a single journal entry for now. This is from almost exactly one year ago, and I think it captures the gravity of our situation, the sort of mindless minutiae we endured daily, and the emotional conflict we all felt personally and collectively as a group

Day 22
(second day in captivity)

“Hot afternoon. I’m laying in my hammock bored out of my mind. The only thing giving me pleasure is flicking flies off my mosquito net so they hit my tarp and make a satisfying clicking sound. Other than that, I’m just laying here thinking of all the shitty decisions I’ve made in life. Hoping my house and child are okay. And my animals. Feeling like I should have been more proactive in sorting out my shit before I left – especially in light of the fact that I have no idea when – or if – I will get out of this fucking mess.

Sun is setting on our second night as hostages at our second FARC camp. The woman leader just told Ben & Jules we will be able to leave tomorrow. I am SO RELIEVED – although the boys remain skeptical. I smoked a celebration cigarette and will go to sleep hopeful. I think Chris & Aniol will head back to Buenos Aires and try to fly out of here. Jules seems on the fence. And Ben seems resolute in his desire to finish – and I am 100% with him in wanting to see this thing through.”

For the record –  this was a big and very well-planned expedition. The comparatively small amount of time spent in the FARC camp did not negatively impact the trip overall. I have extremely strong feelings for Colombia and the Amazon. Feelings so strong and brilliant and familiar and beautiful that I find myself struggling to adequately explain them, so I don’t even try for the most part.

My group paddled hundreds of kilometers without seeing any signs of human presence. In almost 600km we never saw a single road or bridge. Everyone we met was surviving off the land with extremely limited resources yet they treated us like we were family. They didn’t hesitate for a second to cut coconuts out of their tree, kill and butcher chickens for us to eat, prepare coffee, and cook soup for us.  A group of 5 half-starved and very peculiar strangers that arrived out of nowhere to their homes, literally on their doorsteps, on land they had lived and subsisted off of in almost total isolation for generations.

I am so grateful to the people of Colombia for their warmth, compassion, and hospitality.

I look forward to sharing more experiences soon.

Until then, buenos noches.