It takes us 1 hour and 20 minutes to complete three hours of travel to our host community of San Marjin.. Must be jungle time.
This community has never had outside visitors and since they will be cooking for us, our Aguarunas liaison will explain to them how to make sure we don’t get sick. For more income, they offer to do laundry as well! It’s oddly expensive, but perhaps they have no reference. Any idea of haggling is squelched by our experience during the big “Town Hall” style community meeting that evening. There, in the dark of a wooden schoolhouse lit only by a few weak flashlights, Aguarunas men with booming voices argue about us. Kike assures us it has nothing to do with their skills at shrinking heads., but we do learn that our welcome here is not universal. Several men feel that we should pay more money for any secrets they know about our quest, or maybe they shouldn’t share any secrets at all. This community is right across the river from the most famous site of all, Santiago de Las Montanas, where Clark tells of a church with s stone floor, under which are vaults that could still be holding the product of the Conquistador’s quest; the gold of the Incas.
The fate of our adventure hangs in the balance. Will the other voices of reason, including Kike’s and our liaison’s prevail? And why am I so distracted by the two young Aguarunas boys there on the meeting hall floor, hiding under a desk, catching, corralling and snapping rubber bands at huge, weird looking jungle insects? In the end, the village again formally welcomes us into their community and decides not to charge us for any knowledge, partially because they haven’t actually found anyone with any knowledge of the ancient site. It’s a mixed verdict for us.
Back at our campsite, we discover that huge, poisonous spiders are invading our tents. These guys are really big. Some are tarantula sized. Keeping tent zippers closed at all times is critical, the Aguarunas tell us. My tent zipper promptly breaks. It’s 20 years old. I consider shacking up with Alex, but spiders have found their way into his tent despite a normal, functioning zipper. It’s too damn hot to close my tent anyway. I’d rather die a slow, poisonous death than be steamed to death in my rice-cooker of a tent. It’s hard to be rational when you’re exhausted. Later, in the middle of the night, I feel something really big crawling across my leg. I regret my choice, but only for a few moments. Once I locate my headlamp I discover it is only a huge, lunar moth.