An early start from Tumbaca on the bus was awaiting us, and with a predicted eight-hour journey we all braced ourselves, hoping we would miraculously arrive there in half the time.
After what seemed like an eternity we finally stopped for a wee stop halfway through our journey. Now, this may sound stupid, but because we were used to drinking so much water on a daily basis we were still in this mode on the bus, and therefore were all bursting for a wee very early on in the trip, especially me and my weak bladder.
After arriving our destination within four hours (miracles do happen guys,) we sat in a dilapidated schoolyard with our ‘interesting’ lunchboxes, waiting for our new Camp Leaders to arrive. After using the toilets that could’ve done with a bit of Dettol (and some new doors, and a flushing system, and maybe some loo roll…) our Camp Leaders arrived, and were told we had to walk for five minutes to the river and were catching a boat to the second Camp, (which was Camp Don Biki)
Travelling in style, or what?
We boarded onto our sheltered personal boats to Camp. We got to shore in one piece; well, just about that is. Between getting stuck in an extremely shallow rocky area, more flying spiders and the dodgy tide at times. Thankfully the jungle terrain was enough to distract us.
After we arrived we had a thirty minute walk from riverbank to Camp, bearing in mind it was the peak time for Celtic people to turn crimson and we had a heavy weight load on our backs and fronts. Anyway, after many a complaint by myself we made it, and the Camp was so, so beautiful.
The best way to describe it was like a tribal layout, with wooden huts for the volunteers, the kitchen, the Leaders and all the tools for work. In our tour we walked from one hut to the other over bamboo bridges, we were taken to our bedrooms which were wooden rooms with bunk beds and mosquito nets on each one (not gonna lie it looked mega sinister.) To our delight we found out we had showers, ACTUAL SHOWERS! Cold ones, but none the less, no more bucket showers!
After being introduced properly to all the staff we walked around the surrounding area and after burger and chips for dinner, we headed to the culture night that was waiting for us in the Sports Hall two minutes away from Camp. The traditional dances were amazing, the locals did such a great job. The girls wore beaded garments and long skirts, with their long tresses flowing dramatically as the boys retaliated with their drums, fancy feathered hats and grass skirts. Of course, they asked us to join, so the best options were Charlotte and Nicole because they were dancers, while the rest of us cheered them on from the side. It was so much fun to watch.
As we headed back we were told that the sinks were a bit late, so we brushed our teeth in the outback (I know it sounds gross) with our headlights on and pj’s.
Off we went to bed, where we didn’t sleep well, mainly because we were like naughty schoolgirls having our first sleepover giggling annoyingly all night.
Plus, we didn’t have any pillows.
‘PINCH PUNCH FIRST OF THE MONTH!’ This is what I woke up to, with all the girls running after each other trying to be the first pincher.
I never want to grow up.
The girls had made the rest of us some pancakes, which were delicious, and of course some dolche de leche made it that teeny bit better. In comparison to the last Camp, two volunteers helped the main chef to make both lunch and dinner each day, so Ellie and I volunteered to do so. Honestly, all we did was peel potatoes and chop up some veg. So we chatted over a coffee that morning overlooking the most incredible river flowing underneath us, huge trees planted on either side with birds tweeting around us, the sun shining and a lot of wildlife.
It’s not often you can say you have your morning coffee and DMC’S just off the bank of the Amazon River.
After dinner we did the dishes and prepared for dinner which was chicken and rice, and chocolate cake for pudding which we were all so thankful for. After we did all we could we chatted with Dwayne (he looked like Dwayne Johnson and I’ll be honest I still don’t actually know what his real name was which is awful of me) one of the members of staff at Camp, who had been all over the world and had such a zeal for life.
Dinner was served, and after clearing the dishes again we headed back to see our weary friends who had been working super hard, were sweaty and knackered. After talking nonsense and discussing the day’s events we headed to the kitchen to make some tea. I spotted another Camp Leader, Gareth, who was looking through some binoculars, something which I’d never done. It was sunset and the view I’d been describing earlier in the day became insignificant.
The hue of pink and orange were stunning against the sparkling river, softly moving with the lack of breeze, the greenery around enhanced by the fading lights and early forms of shadows. I actually spent most of my night there looking at the scenery, which sounds a bit lame, but I can honestly say I’ve never felt so peaceful in my life; and I’ve never been so quiet either. Hehe.
As we nodded off, we were suddenly woken up by a shriek from Ellie. She was in the bunk bed opposite me, so I shone my torch on her, and I kid you not the biggest, ugliest creature was buzzing around on her net. She was screaming something along the lines of ‘It’s eating my net! It’s coming in!’ All of us at this point were in bed and snug as a bug (spot the pun lol) and selfishly we didn’t want to go out and face this beast that made a racket when it moved. So all of us from our nets shouted words of encouragement and suggestions, while Ellie was just like ‘Could someone PLEASE help me?!’
You’ll be glad to know, it finally flew away somewhere and stayed silent, it didn’t attack Ellie, and we all slept like logs.
As you’ve probably guessed, I depend on my morning coffee. Not so much the caffeine side, but more of the social factor of enjoying a hot beverage with friends preparing for the day ahead.
But on this day, this did not happen.
One wasn’t amused.
Regardless of this though, we started project work at nine o’clock. It was raining, somehow I’d lost my raincoat, so luckily I had a pink multi-coloured waterproof poncho that I thought was fairly cool. Once Iain saw it, being the blunt Scotsman he is, was just like ‘What the heck is that? You look stupid, you look like a moth.’ (He did include other words but I thought It’d be wise to censor.) Everyone was in stitches then, and after many a photo taken I realised that I wasn’t as chic as I thought, and did look ridic.
Anyway, as we were waiting for the rain to die down we talked all things children programmes. Sadly no one else appreciated Clifford the big red dog as much as me, but I had to get over this tragic fact because all our energy would soon be fuelled into moving massive boulders to be able to start building the foundations of a house for the headmaster of the local school.
It was a bit overwhelming when we reached the area where the house would be, because the vast amounts of rocks in all shapes and sizes were never-ending. It took us a full day, two entire sessions, to move all the rocks out-of-the-way and into a pile near by (which would be used to build a path on our next project) and by the end of the day we were covered in mud and dirt.
We were starving by dinner time, which was ravioli and fries. After dinner we headed back to Camp with some goodies (thanks to Iain who had gone and bought us sweet stuff at the nearest town which was an hour away – we were so grateful) and then we talked about PMA, which stood for Positive Mental Attitude, and American Football (at which point people started to argue that it was better than rugby, so I had to stop and correct them in their tracks.)
I think I won them all over. I am a Welsh rugby fanatic after all.
“You’d be a nightmare to take to the cinema wouldn’t you?” were the words I woke up to as I was drinking my second coffee of the morning, having a laugh about something or other.
Today we were separated into two different groups, and our group was in charge of digging holes for the foundation of the house. Me, Charlotte and Will did a great job (not blowing our own trumpets or anything) despite not having the proper tools for the job, and thinking we’d hit a gas pipe due to the fizzling and steam from underneath us (turned out to be natural gas though so we were fine, phew.)
Lunch was yalu chips and Caesar salad, and afterwards we headed back to our chilling area to read, talk, and of course have some childhood stories.
One thing I was notorious for apparently was my awful story-telling skills. They had become so bad, irrelevant or pointless that people (in particular Gemma) had started rating them out of 10. So towards the end of the trip I’d had an extremely mixed review of my stories, and if I suggested any stories I wanted to tell I’d have to give a quick synopsis to see if it was good enough tor repeat.
Surely that was some form of bullying and goes against freedom of speech?
Afternoon project work had started, and we knew it was going to be tough. The rocks we’d dug up the day before were now being moved from one end of the field to the other where they’d be used to make a path for the locals to go to the river without walking through Camp.
Without exaggerating, I’ve never felt so much pain in my forearms so quickly. Ever. I honestly thought by morning I’d have bigger arms than all the boys combined. I struggled to lift an empty wheelbarrow towards the end of the session. Regardless of the struggles we successfully moved all the rocks to the entrance where the path had began to form, slowly but surely.
The path evolved pretty quickly and it was a lot of fun, it must’ve looked like a scene from Snow White between the singing, passing of the rocks and whistling.
After our session some of the girls decided it’d be a good idea to have a game of netball.
Let’s get one thing straight.
I promise you I’m not a monster.
But when it comes to sport, I change. Dramatically.
I think I’ll end my 5th blog here, because there’s a lot more netball, and a lot more competitiveness on it’s way.
Let’s just say that this was the first time the girls had ever seen me scream, heave, have mini tantrums, almost cry and give glares (apparently) evil enough to give them nightmares. So, yes, we’ve clarified that I’m not the nicest of people when it comes to sports.
If you thought this was bad, just wait until you hear about our netball game with the locals.
But, I guess you’re going to have to read the next blog to find out what happened…