Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 3: Suangama to Camp II

Another day of hard jungle trekking down. Today was much more difficult than yesterday. We started at around 9am after a filling breakfast of rice and eggs. We hiked until 3pm with minimal breaks. It was very, very muddy. We had a number of stream crossings and very muddy sections. We are following a river uphill into the highlands. This involves moving up and down and pretty steep, slippery trails. I've been impressed by the quality of the path thus far. I think there's an incentive for the locals to work on the trail and improve it because of the enormous economic windfall an expedition bring. Each of the 30 or so porters makes 7-8 million rupiah per expedition. That's roughly $700...per porter! Considering the average income in Papua is less than a dollar a day, these locals are making a killing.

We made camp in between the traditional Camp I and Camp II because we were so far behind from yesterday. Our guides are confident we'll make up time as we continue on.

I also learned a lot about the local cannibals. They reside primarily on the north coast of the island. They only eat their enemies and do so after a conflict. They do not eat the heart; instead, they keep it because it means 'they're the man'. They prefer to eat the thigh after it has been grilled.

All in all we're enjoying this adventure tremendously so far. We've been very lucky with both local/political issues and with weather. We've also seen a beautiful full rainbow and several butterflies--both good omens for me. Not just good omens for me, it turns out. Our guides informed is that it was yesterday's rainbow that convince their porters to resolve their dispute in favor of continuing with us. Good thing too because with no porters there is certainly no expedition.

We are eating dinner now and all eager to sleep after today's difficult day. More tomorrow!

My mother posing before one of the numerous raging river crossings.

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