Expedition Diary: Inside a Rain Forest Quest

March 5, 2004

(Page 2 of 4)

I ensure that my tent, pack, water bottle, and the remains of last night's pizza are with me. There's a break in the clouds and I'm off, accompanied by a worker from the fazenda.

As we cross into the next valley, the clouds break. At the landing spot, it's bright sunshine.

The fazenda worker and I get out, grab my gear and move well away from the helicopter—if wind tips the helicopter, the still-rotating blades will hit the ground, and the resulting shrapnel will turn me into hamburger. In a minute, the pilot is off to collect Maria and Alline at the fazenda.

Fifteen minutes later the helicopter is back in our valley but isn't coming this way. He lands a mile (1.6 kilometers) or more below us in a depression.

We wave. We strip off our shirts and wave them. Through the binoculars, I watch Alline and Maria Alice unload gear. The helicopter leaves.

A silence descends. I slap on the sunscreen I had the good sense to pack. We call Maria Alice on our radio. "I told the pilot it wasn't the right place, but he said your site was not safe," she tells me.

"So why didn't he then come to fetch us?" I ask.

"I screamed at him that he had to. He ignored me and left," Maria Alice said.

"Well," I reply, "you have too much stuff to walk up to us, we'll have to come to you."

"Your companion is called Gilmar," Maria Alice tells me. He was expecting the pilot to return to the spot where he dropped the two of us off, as we all were. Now, not only does Gilmar have no way home, he has nothing but the clothes he's wearing.

Continued on Next Page >>




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