Today was the day I almost gave up singing ‘Me Ole Bamboo’, one of my all time favourite songs from one of my all time favourite films – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, talk about having a bad experience and to be fair it was not even at the ‘hands’ of any bamboo plants!
Anyhow today, unlike most other days out here which seem to end with rain, this one started out with it and in copious amounts too, carrying on from last night’s little downpour! So we just sat in at the restaurant and did our best to try and keep ourselves amused, then just before dinner it seemed to be trying to brighten up so we considered going for a walk but Kunten considered otherwise. So instead of our jaunt out, she cooked us some more vegetarian offerings – very green looking – and then issued her orders, we were going out to harvest banana flowers!
Me and Liz were by now somewhat ‘old hands’ at retrieving banana flowers from the jungle but Kunten foxed us by starting off in the wrong direction back to where the ‘chalets’ (aka huts) on sticks were. Here we went underneath one of them and started removing what looked like canes simply stuck into the ground. When we had collected a good couple of sack’s worth of these canes – or as I was later to find out ‘canelets’ or ‘baby canes’ – we then took them on into the jungle for a walk! We reached a part of the jungle and just off the rutted track Kunten wanted us to clear the bush away in order that we could then plant these canes, which were of course bamboo! When we had been out the other day with Kunten she had been like a whirling dervish cutting through anything that moved to get to whatever she wanted to take from the jungle, today she seemed to be putting something back ‘farming’ her portion of the jungle, making her earlier ‘taking’ much more sustainable. We really were seeing a whole new side to the family’s interaction with their surroundings.
Anyhow we cleared and cleared and then she planted and planted and then the clouds decided to join in, so they watered and watered – great eh! Liz thought it was quite like the old films you watch where they wield a big old machete and chop their way through the hostile jungle, for me it was more like trying to find the best activity you could to get trench foot. I actually think if we had carried on too much longer we would have succeeded as my feet were definitely getting ‘trenchy’. As Kunten chopped away I did get a sense of what Liz meant but this only lasted until the cold started to permeate my bones then I was back to calculating the possibility of trench foot or pneumonia! Anyhow Kunten planted the last of the canes and then at last we set off on our way back home – or so we thought. Kunten is the epitome of the jungle forager and when she sees a banana flower she gets it, come hell or high water. This can involve chopping down every tree in the vicinity, sometimes she even kicks them over or as in the case today she chopped one down that nearly fell on us but at least we now know that she replaces these trees too! Once again when our sack overfloweth we did seem to be heading off more ‘Homeward Bound’ as in the song but then Kunten once again saw a couple more ‘shoots and directed us ‘Bamboo Shoot Bound’ instead, not nearly as nice a place as our little restaurant especially in the pouring rain and it probably would not have been as much of a hit song either!
Watching Kunten for some reason made me think of when I was a youngster and I used to consider my mum to be one of the strongest and toughest people I knew because she could carry half a dozen shopping bags at a time whilst herding us three kids, each of whom was struggling to carry a single bag. I would have loved her to meet Kunten but had no idea what she would make of her. Kunten has a rather unique approach to obtaining things to eat and the jungle is her supermarket and here ‘all’ she has to do is chop or even sometimes even kick over whatever foods she needs. She comes complete with a twelve inch blade too, so definitely not a person to be messed with!
Well after all the excitement of the jungle it was finally time for ‘home’ but by the time we reached there we were a good deal wetter than the tap ‘showers’ at the homestay could have made us! It may have been because we were shattered or simply because we were famished but either way the rations just did not seem to ‘hit the spot’. This being the case we treat ourselves to a beer or two in the process and sat for a good while contemplating the day and the huge buzzing insects that would every now and again fly towards the light. The song may say ‘In the jungle the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight’, all I can say is that with all the noise of the rain and the river, he too must have had a few beers along the way!!
PS – Another strange ‘un, but possibly due to the beer consumption, later in the evening I found myself absolutely bursting for a pee but (once again) it was raining torrentially, so being somewhat desperate I peed over the balcony to the ground below and who should come back out of nowhere – Kunten, you just cannot write this stuff (hang on I just did!)!!