Today we trekked for about 5.5 hours – most of it all uphill over a steep, rocky, muddy slippery trail. Arriving at a plateau (and a small village) we were greeted by the entire village welcoming us with a cheerful song. We busted open the heavy glass jar of Prima Scelta Chargrilled Artichokes that we dragged up here from when we bought them in Sydney. Food had rarely tasted so good despite these chockes being saturated in the heaviest of oil.
Anytime we arrive at one of these mountain villages, the children run after me and stop when I turn around and start laughing uncontrollably. It is rare for them to see a Caucasian in these mountains and they are very curious about me.
Continuing further into the mountains – we finally arrived at Misima Village which is nothing more than two homes in a remote part of the mountainside surrounded by jungle. Seli is the owner and when guests arrive he brings help from two small villages (about a 30 minute walk away). He is one of the more amazing people I’ve met on my travels – so much energy, so much knowledge about where he lives, a matter of factness about the harshness of life here and a graciousness that is clearly felt along with his genuine hospitality.
Trekking in these parts is not for the faint of heart! I accidentally walked into a nasty horizontal branch and ripped up the ear a bit – causing it to bleed. Other wounds take forever to heal in these conditions. We saw several nasty wounds on children that would have been grounds for their hospitalization under less stressful and remote conditions. One small kid had a huge deep circle dug deep into his leg; muscle and tendons were still hanging out and blood was still oozing out. He cut himself with a machete clearing grass. We’ve noticed a number of people have recent cuts on their legs and feet – either tripping or running into things. Nearly all the villagers walk barefoot everywhere.
I have a very badly swollen ankle from a nasty fall climbing over slippery ocean rocks that I took two weeks ago in Australia. It was healing very nicely until we arrived in this very humid environment. Trying to stay dry has been an incredible challenge. There is water everywhere! Just simple walking brings up a healthy sweat and there is a dampness that persists in all our gear.
Today we were plagued by leeches. A number of them ended up in my shoes and crawled all the way down to my toes. They just bit through my socks and when I figured out what was happening I already had a number of these bloated black slimy beings hanging from my feet. We burned them off and when they popped they left a real nasty mess; I needn’t go into further gory details.
A beautiful welcoming song for us from one of the villages upon our arrival: