Expedition Diary: Inside a Rain Forest Quest

March 5, 2004

(Page 3 of 4)

At the end of the day we return to camp, soaked. As evening draws in, we're all too cold to eat outside, so we eat inside my tent. Dinner is a protracted affair—hot noodles, soup, trail bars, nuts, chocolate, dry fruit, hot chocolate to drink.

We're all in our sleeping bags to keep warm, our wet clothes piled up around us. Tomorrow night we should be warm again, back at the fazenda, where the owner has generously offered us a night in his house.

Sunday, December 7, 2003

I have never learned to love the sensation of getting out of a toasty, dry sleeping bag and pulling on cold, damp rain gear and soaked socks and boots. I will be wetter yet within minutes—it's raining again.

Only hard work will generate the body heat to warm my cold clothes. Hopefully they'll be good and dry by the time the helicopter comes today to take us home.

By 1 p.m. we're hearing our helicopter every 15 minutes, or at least think we are. None appears.

We have no cell phone service where we're camped, so Gilmar takes a radio and phone and heads uphill on his rough trail. After an hour, from his perch above the forest, he can reach us by radio and the helicopter pilot by cell phone.

The pilot is still at home. "I was expecting you to call me," he tells Gilmar.

Holding the other radio, Maria Alice is furious. Her instructions to the pilot were clear. And he should have known we couldn't possibly have called him from where he left us.

"Come in under the clouds and head up the valley from the southwest," I ask Maria Alice to tell Gilmar to tell the pilot. Clouds above the valley are showing patches of blue sky. "If you can't make it today, come first thing tomorrow."

If the pilot doesn't arrive by midday tomorrow, it will be a disaster.

Continued on Next Page >>


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