Back in the Rubber Boom Town


In the jungle, during the night (well, all the time, actually, but it’s more prominent in the night-time) the insects weave patterns and textures of sound so sinuous, repetitive, and geometric that it’s almost visible to the eye, these frequencies crafted of the wing. The air is so dank it’s hard to breathe, and you feel as if you are in the midst of a dream as you walk through the dense growth of neon green trees ripe with bananas, anonas, pijuayos. Apparently I have sangre dulce (sweet blood), because I was needled into by so many mosquitos that my feet look like they’ve broken out in hives and my arms look like the tracked up veins of a junkie. Of course, this is what occurs when you are not from the jungle and you do not slobber on repellent. Yes, I elected to forgo the repellent, mainly because the one time I did try putting it on it had no effect whatsoever, probably because I sweat it right back off. I figured that I needed to put these anti-malarial pills to work anyway, and the bites aren’t so terrible as long as you don’t scratch them (impossible, unfortunately, with the feet, which are rubbed constantly by my sandals as I walk). So at the lodge I stayed at, I basically laid around in my hammock sweating and eating different jungle fruits while watching mosquitos draw pints from my blood like it was happy hour.
Some new vocab for ya: Caimito–a yellow/green fruit with very sweet, refreshing, and extremely sticky fruit. After you eat it, your fingers and your lips almost stick together. Mamey–actually a pomerosa, but called Mamey anyway, this tree bears these shockingly pink spinal flores that scatter in a heap beneath it, providing a stark and beautiful contrast with its green surroundings. Maracuya–another fruit, somewhat like my beloved granadilla–I tried some of its juice, very refreshing on a hot sunny day en la selva. Anona–green in appearance until it is ripe, when it turns slightly yellow, this fruit looks exotic with little tendril hooks curling from its rubber-like surface, and it tastes like pudding. In fact, the taste and texture and seeds of the fruit of the anona is very similar to that of the chirimoya, another of my favorites. I ate like 10 of these things while at the albergue. It’s like dessert. Mata-mata–a prehistoric jungle turtle, it’s head looks like a hammerhead shark and it’s got a very long neck. Pijuayo–a tree growing in the jungle that bears two wonderful gifts–chonta–the heart of its trunk–is delicious and served commonly in salads with limòn and salt, and it’s fruits–also called pijuayos–are like little tiny sweet potatoes ready to eat–you pry them open and then dab a little cocona salsa on them. Tasty.
Like I said, this place is paradise as far as I’m concerned. Now that I’ve made a few friends I’m going to stick it out for another 5 days, giving me only 3 days more in Lima before I head back home.

Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

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