I’ve dedicated my summer to working in a café to fund my travels. So far much of these savings have been spent on flights and necessities, such as insect-repellent clothing, a first aid kit and tequila shots (a necessity, but not for this trip).
About £300 of my savings have been spent on the yellow fever vaccine and all three doses of the rabies vaccine. The bad news is that if I get bitten by a rabid animal I still need to go straight to the hospital. The good news is that the vaccine gives me a tiny, tiny bit of a better chance of surviving if I don’t get to the hospital.
My online lessons with a tutor named Jesus (pronounced ‘hey-soos’) consist mostly of me saying “repetir, por favor” and “no entiendo”. I completed my 274-day Duolingo streak in Wetherspoons.
I’ve been familiarizing myself with the rainforest’s potential dangers, from piranhas to jaguars to bullet ants to poison dart frogs. Let me enlighten you with one of the most nightmare-inducing of all. Forget Australia, the most venomous arachnid in the world is the Brazilian wandering spider. These 9 species of spider belong to the genus Phoneutria, which is Greek for ‘murderess’. Instead of building webs to catch prey, these spiders ‘wander’ along the forest floor at night, on the hunt. The venom from this spider’s bite causes excruciating pain, and loss of muscle control and can be lethal. Great.
Besides dodging venomous spiders, another daunting task is condensing six months’ worth of belongings into a 50-litre backpack. After a co-worker suggested an ingenious method to prevent nocturnal creepy crawlies from invading my shoes – using condoms as protective covers – I was ready to devote as much space in my backpack as necessary to avoid sharing my footwear with unwanted visitors. Regrettably, it’s now clear that there isn’t enough room for this approach. Also, showing up at the research station with a backpack overflowing with contraceptives might not be the best first impression.
As the time to depart draws closer, I’m becoming both more excited and more terrified. What will get me first? Rabies? Wandering spiders? The humidity? Next time I’ll be writing to you from South America, hopefully with some interesting stories.
Until next time – hasta luego!
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