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Armadillo Adventure


PERU | Wednesday, 27 May 2015 | Views [215] | Scholarship Entry

Clad in every item of clothing in my possession, I lay on my cot and shivered uncontrollably. Over the sound of my chattering teeth, I thought, “This is to be expected when you are in Antarctica.”
But I wasn’t in Antarctica; I was in the Amazon.
This was my first trip to Peru, and even though all I really wanted to see was the Amazon, I had begrudgingly tagged along to Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Because really, who goes to Peru and doesn’t visit Machu Picchu? While there, I did constant battle with altitude sickness. I remember that I had looked forward to the relief of the deep, dark rainforest. This was not what I had anticipated.
My mind raced through potential maladies.
Malaria? I was taking Mefloquine.
Yellow fever? Vaccinated.
Typhoid? Again, vaccinated.
And then it hit me. Armadillo…
As Native women in modern clothing huddled over tables of arts and crafts, waiting for our small tour group to be loosed upon them, a ruddy-cheeked girl of three or four ran barefoot through the staged “village” clutching what appeared to be the drum stick from a game bird.
The little girl’s grandfather, dressed in traditional garb, identified the hunk of meat as armadillo. He then pantomimed how he had shot it with a bow and arrow just that morning. It had since been roasted on a spit over an open fire, and there was plenty to go around. “You try?”
Five members of our group braved the local delicacy. Exactly one suffered any ill effects.
When you have waited almost all of your life to visit a place, and have only a limited number of days to experience it, I learned that you can work through just about anything.
Feeling only moderately better, I was up at dawn for a long trip down-river through the fog as thick as cotton candy to see parrots and macaws. Later that day we hiked what must have been a marathon distance to canoe on a lake with giant otters, and birds, and turtles, and perhaps an elusive anaconda.
Foregoing dinner for a second day, I had staggered back in to bed, exhausted, but slightly warmer than the hypothermia I was sure I was experiencing the night before; I dreamt of giant butterflies, strangler figs and howler monkeys.
As the week progressed, every day my immune system was advancing the battle. Every day I saw all of the amazing things I had imagined as a child and shared them with wonderful people. My gustatory misadventure even contributed solidarity to the story line. I finally had my Amazonian adventure: armadillos be damned!

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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