Life in the Jungle at Picaflor: Volunteer and Leisure — A Travel Tale

Monday was a rainy day and with Pico gone to Puerto for the day, Johanna and I spent our time reading and avoiding work. Life in the jungle at Picaflor can be real nice!

Minutes after Pico returned in the late afternoon, all three of us were surprised by the sound of a boat stopping at our landing. Pico went to investigate, coming back with two unexpected volunteers: an American couple from Denver named Eric and Katie.

Poor Eric and Katie. The first thing they did when they got here was pump water!

We’ve finally figured out that water runs in both toilets, so we can’t flush either. Instead, we simply pour water directly into the bowl.

But we’ve still got water problems, since the frequent rains and constantly changing level of the river means that our well-water gets muddy quickly. We can hardly pump for more than 20 minutes before the water’s too murky, so needless to say we’re unable to fill the tank adequately.

The others haven’t pumped water very much, so they don’t care and are still taking showers. But it doesn’t take time to get used to life in the jungle at Picaflor. I just pump water directly into a bucket, dump it over myself, soap up, and poor another bucket of water over my head. Much more efficient at keeping our taps full.

Despite having lost Elissa and her baked goods, we haven’t starved. Turns out that Eric is very creative in the kitchen. He’s made cookies, tortillas (!), guacamole, and juice.

Apparently, I make a pretty decent banana bread. Katie and I made dinner the other night. She was in charge of the garlic-cheese bread while I boiled a ton of vegetables, mashed them all up, and served it as soup. Incredibly, it actually was soup, and tasty at that!

Johanna’s no slouch in the kitchen, either!
Find out what she taught me to cook in
Memories of a Carnivore

Getting into the swing of it: Adjusting to life in the jungle at Picaflor

I’ve definitely gotten the hang of things around here. Life in the jungle at Picaflor is pretty easy, as it turns out!

I’ve learned how to use the CB radio, which we turn on twice a day for half an hour each time. I’ve been entrusted with feeding our ocellated turkey (a beautiful bird with bare blue and red skin on its head and neck), as well as the two other sets of birds that we have, and our cuys. I collect eggs from the hens and feed them ground-up corn which we grind by hand.

These chickens don't dig life in the jungle at Picaflor, they dig life in the bush of French River!
These aren’t the Picaflor chickens, they’re mine here in Ontario, but the setup looked somewhat similar…

We use a metal contraption with a bowl on top and a handle on the side. When we turn the handle, a rotating thingy inside the bowl that looks like a screw crushes the dried corn, pushing out on the opposite side from the handle, kind of like what we use to make ground moose-meat. What’s that thing called? Please, nobody tell me it’s something simple like a “grinder.”

This morning, we tried a hike at dawn, but it was raining and therefore futile. However, I did get my exercise for the day (aside from pumping water and grinding corn). I love rainy days; I can guiltlessly sit around reading all day, enjoying life in the jungle at Picaflor! One more chapter to go in A Neotropical Companion: An Introduction to the Animals, Plants, and Ecosystems of the New World Tropics by John Kricher…