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Where's Jonny? Care to dine with me? You would think that 11 years of daily food tasting for a living might put me off?......au contraire! Chomp away with me across 6 continents. Seduced like a bloodhound to the scent of good food, I anticipate the misty waft of steaming broths, the satisfying crunch of mudbugs and the vibrant aroma of freshly pulverised lemongrass. Buon appetito

Completing Darwins work

BRAZIL | Sunday, 7 October 2007 | Views [2892] | Comments [1]

grub of the firefly found inside a certain type of nut - and yes I did try it!  Like coconut milk but no sweetness

grub of the firefly found inside a certain type of nut - and yes I did try it! Like coconut milk but no sweetness

If any place on earth held the secrets to life, it was here.

Hidden deep within unexplored regions of Amazonia lay the answers. 

My time was precious, yet I yearned to discover a new species;

a plant, an insect, maybe even a human?

4 separate flights from Sao Paulo and a time zone difference took us to Manaus, a busy port town on the Rio Negro whose splendour had diminshed since the rubber boom.

Maria had never shut up about spiders since Argentina so it was a miracle we ever arrived in the worlds largest rainforest.  I needed a sneaky plan that would get us on a river boat to Iquitos (Peru) before Maria screamed, ¨spider,¨ ¨snake¨ or ¨stick insect.¨  So I booked the ¨Best¨ Western for two nights relative comfort before dropping into dinner conversation that we would be going where no man (or woman) had gone before.  It turned out to be a huge mistake.  The food was abhorent, the phone out of order, the internet broken, the staff dismissive and there was no spa for her ladyship.

We were so badly overcharged for our laundry (120USD) that I was forced to contact the tourist police.  Surprisingly, a policeman turned up at 9pm on a Saturday night, his wife waiting patiently for him in the car.  He came with Gero, the man who was organising our trip.  Now, there was obviously some politics going on at the reception desk, but we still gained a 50% reduction in the price and a sparkling pair of pants for my trip.

I ended up compromising on the trip.  With every intention to sail from Manaus to Peru, the 3 week journey, cramped conditions, river pirates and bad santitation just failed to appeal to my anachrophobic partner.

So we embarked, none-the-less enthusiastically, on a 4 day adventure to the, ¨interior,¨ which promised the company of pink dolphins, pirhanas, colourful birds, insects and indigenous tribes.  Our guide was a  ¨Caboclo,¨ or river person and had extensive knowledge of the Amazon and its animals.  So Maria was safe and I had a chap who knew how to deal with jaguars.

The first of two boats took us to across the, ¨meeting of the waters¨,¨ an amazing natural phenominon wherein the tar coloured Rio Negro merges with the Rio solimoes (Amazon) and the two colours remain for miles.  Itls like watching black treacle run into milky coffee.

Next was a bumpy ride across red soils in a VW van to smaller vessel capable of navigating the narrow river channels. 

I watched the Guiness-like liquid flow rapidly beneath me and froth white as it left the outboard motor.  An Irishmans dream.

4 hours later and we arrived at our wooden lodge somewhere just back from the rivers edge.  It was a simple affair but there was a shower (that worked occasionally)

Tarantula reports from another cabin didn´t go down well with Maria and I can´t say the thought of standing on one on my way to the toilet excited me either.  However, the jungles charms intoxicated me the moment I arrived.  The sounds.  Like nothing I have ever heard, although at night time its worse than a nightclub as insects, howler monkeys, splashing fish and wild things compete for air space.

Day 4 was the most memorable.  We moved in silence using a wooden canoe and journeyed far into a tributary swept by overhanging trees.

The mesmorizing flutter of moths the size of birds distracted our attention from a large caiman which lay motionless above.  Invisible on the steep bank he suddenly sensed us and dashed head first into the dark water with a huge SPLASH.  Maria yelped like a pupply as the ripples tapped our boat gently.

After hours paddling in what felt like a steam room we glid to a stop.  Our guide disembarked first from another canoe and led us on a single track into the green soup.

The place was ALIVE.

A toucan observed our movements from above as army ants marched into war.  We tramped slowly over rotting trunks, under creepers, into muddy streams and up leaf strewn banks.  Our guide stopped us and pulled out a machete.   Cracking open a jungle nut he poked out a fat white grub and placed it into my palm.

¨Eat,¨ ¨Eat.¨ he demanded, his leathery face impressionless.

Pausing momentarily, I closed my eyes, threw back the brub and chewed quickly.  It burst in my mouth and coated my tongue in a gooey white liquid.  To be fair, it did taste like unsweetened coconut milk but I would have preferred it cooked.

A further 3 hrs trekking in choking heat and I stumbled upon an large creamy, yellowish fruit of soft exterior lying on the ground.

Could it be?

Yelling at my guide who was ahead (no doubt looking for napping snakes) I picked up the fruit.

¨What is the name of this fruit,¨ I enquired excitedly.

The guide took it from my hand and examining it closely replied. 

¨I have never seen this fruit before.¨

EUREEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKAAAAAAAAA!!!

I had discovered a fruit that the world had never seen.  It would be called a, ¨Jonathan Delicious.¨

Taking photos and keeping the sample we headed back.

3 days later and we were traveling back to Manaus on a steamer-type boat of two decks.  There was a large congregation of Eurpean travellers on the top deck all with different stories from around the Amazon.

When I began to recall my story of the fruit there was sudden hush around the deck and more and more travellers came upstairs to hear.

Clearly impressed, I wasted no time explaining that I was to name the fruit after myself.  I even took a question and answer session at the end.

Just as I was explaining to the now huge group of international travellers about my new discovery and old fisherman tapped me on the shoulder.

¨Si Signor,¨ I said wondering if he realised the significance of my find.

¨Zis fruita you hold,¨ he croaked in a heavy Spanish accent. 

¨We call Cupuaçu.¨

¨I beg your pardon,¨ I replied, as faces around me tried to conceal emerging smirks.

¨Its a cupuaçu.  In Manaus we have, Suco (juice) Cupuaçu, Torta (cake) de Cupuaçu, helado (ice cream) de Cupuaçu, Its very nice.¨

I slid away like a python and threw the bloody thing in the river where it belonged.    

 

Tags: Adventures

Comments

1

This is Gero ,please let me know if your are ok ,I could meet you before your departure I was very busy
thank you Gero

  Gero Mesquita Mar 10, 2008 5:49 PM

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