The Long Walk

May 13, 2006
Day 227
NKM Adventure Day 4

Picture of beetle.

Craig holds a rhino beetle found in the path to Florida.

At sunrise, we got up, had a quick breakfast, and started walking. We figured we had about eleven hours of daylight left, which would give us enough time to get to Florida by dark as long as we kept a reasonable pace. We were told that the path would be flat, but still, carrying at least 25 KG each, it wouldn't be easy. There was always the small chance that we could hitch a ride if a car passed us.

The road was barely wide enough for one car. I could see how a puma could attack us at night by watching us approach from the side of the road, but I think the paranoia of the people on the bus last night was largely exaggerated. Pumas are afraid of people, right?

Along the way we saw lots of wildlife. Toucans, macaws, and lots of other exotic bird species regularly flew overhead. We also saw giant spiders sitting in their webs ever twenty meters or so, huge butterflies everywhere, and occasional rhino beetle, and one capybara scurried across the path in front of us. We did not spot any felines, though.

Several hours into the walk, a guy on a motorcycle approached us from Florida. He wore a baseball cap, brandished a shotgun on his back (as common as wearing shoes in these parts), and had a particularly interesting pattern of tooth decay that made it look like he had fangs. He told us that he was what passed for a taxi driver for the Floridians and was looking for a mother and two daughters who were supposed to be on our bus but never showed up. We told him that we had been walking all day and hadn't seen anyone, so he turned back. How he was going to fit three more people on his motorcycle was beyond me.

Nobody else passed us the rest of the day other than a truck of people going away from Florida and the fanged man again, who told us that the truck wouldn't return until tomorrow, so hitching a ride was out of the question. He did give us the good news that we only had two more hours to go, though.

As the day wore on, we got more and more tired. Finally, we spotted a single house and stopped for a rest. Nobody was home, but the owner soon popped out of the jungle, after a day of hunting. He was an old man with a machete in his hand and a shotgun over his shoulder. He told us that we were close to Florida and that he had been living there for five years. He looked like an interesting character, and we were tired from walking for eight hours straight, so we asked if it'd be alright to camp at his place. He seemed excited just to have the company, so we decided to call it a day and set up camp.

The old man introduced himself as Fransisco, and we were right about him being interesting. He was married and had kids, but lived outside of Florida so he could grow his own rice and vegetables, and hunt. He had a few chickens and a pet dog in his small dirt yard. Inside his simple home was the hammock he made, another hammock he was in the process of making, a flute made out of PVC pipe, and two drums, his most prized possessions. As the story goes, one night, Fransisco was near his door, and a puma snuck up and ate his dog. He got understandably pissed off at this, so he killed the puma with his shotgun and made the drums out of its skin. His story added up because underneath one of the drums were two large bullet holes, patched with extra puma skin. He figured he'd sell them one day for $100. We'll see about that.

After Craig and I had supper, we figured it was time for a jam session. We each took a drum to bang on and Fransisco played a war tune on his flute. Too bad there wasn't another human being around for miles because the music we played could have earned a record contract I'm sure.

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