Let’s take a minute to talk about our guide: The man, the myth, the legend, the self-proclaimed shaman Samir. Our very first night, my companions went to bed, but I decided to hang out at the shack and get the story on Samir. He bought me a drink and started laying out the crazy.
His grandparents came from India to Guyana where he was raised with his sisters in a middle class home. At some point, he left that place and went to the jungle to with a violent, cannibalistic tribe to learn their jungle magic from them. Because he wants to share the blessings.
This tribe has a self-perpetuating farm in the mountains because they turn into jaguars and other animals when their human lives are over. They don’t normally accept strangers, but he worked hard to know them.
He speaks English, Portuguese (both I think he said he picked up in prison), and four Guyana dialects. At one point, he was a diver for diamonds and gold in the ocean which destroyed his hearing.
Then he learned how to grow ganja, planted 5,000 marijuana trees and started smuggling that. Except one time at the border, someone sold him out and he was arrested. They chained his wrist to his ankle and he was put in prison for 90 days, getting extra time for kicking the wall one time. Then one day, he asked himself, “what are the biggest mafias in the world? The police and the church.” So he asked a nun that visited the prison to get him baptized. He renamed himself from Ghandi to Samir, convinced the judge he’d been framed, and then was out of prison.
He went back to the jungle and gained more knowledge, and then came to Brazil to find the guy that sold him to the cops and kill him. He’s been here since.
He’s had malaria 8 times, his body is marked with poorly drawn tattoos, spear wounds, knife wounds, axe wounds. He recently cut off his dreds to fit in more, knows everything there is to know about the Amazon, has an adorable pot belly, is a world class fisherman, reads palms, is a tailor, carpenter, knows quite a few magic tricks and racist jokes, and speaks very casually about brothels. He’s a real life pirate. And he’s got a plan for me to buy real estate in Brazil and retire rich, so. I’ve got that going for me.
Monday morning we woke up and Tess, her mom and I got in our sexy matching Carmen Sandiego UV proof, insect (and probably potential boyfriend) repelling, air circulating shirts. We all boated over to a nearby rainforest area and followed our machete-wielding guide into nowhere. He kept giving us so many survival tips for the jungle that we were compelled to ask if he was prepping us for when he left us there.
I was so thankful for my rainboots (just to know that nothing creepy crawly could get me between toes and knees!) and we took off to do some jungle trekking. Sami showed us how to make rope from bark, walking trees, how to drink water from a tree branch, where bullet ants are, and even bark to eat to prevent malaria.
We drank milk from a tree and the boys ate larvae from nuts. We tried and failed to hunt tarantulas . . . Samir had several four letter words to say about that. But I saw the pictures another group took of their tarantulas, and lets just say I’m okay with not having seen one in real life. I would have said every bad word in every language I know.
When we were leaving, a storm was coming in. We could hear the thunder and rain drops, but barely felt anything until we got back on the boat, because the leaves and trees are so dang thick. Pretty cool. When we got back to the lodge,
I sat on the dock for a while with a cerveja and watched the clouds roll over. They are definitely closer to you in the Amazon…must be that equator science stuff.
After showers (we averaged three a day . . . so freaking hot!) and lunch we went for the first round of fishing. Piranha fishing. So. COOLEST KIND OF FISHING EVER. It was just a bamboo type rod, fishing wire, a hook, and raw meat. And we killed it. It was super fun because we all caught a bunch, and Samir showed us how the fish can chomp right through branches.
After dinner, a few of us took refuge from the mosquitos in the cafeteria to play card games, until Sami walked in and decided to put on a one-man show featuring his card tricks, somewhat inappropriate jokes, and blow dart demonstrations. Classic Sami.
And then a jungle roach large enough make grown men cry landed on the screen, so we called it a night.
But we were getting up early to catch an Amazon sunrise, so we were okay with the early bedtime.
And that was Day 2!
And if you haven’t heard it and you need to….
the toucan we saved on day one died on day two because it was tired and loved too hard. And I am tired and love you quite hard. So. There is that.