We decided on the latter and left early enough that we could get in a full day of activity.
After toggling through the jungle and wading through water and rocks, we reached the approximate halfway mark and decided to walk outwards instead, deeper into the ocean, and rummage around up there. A beach is a beach is a beach until it’s a shoal.
Here’s the thing. I love adventure, but I don’t like insects. I also don’t like heights or insects. Finally, I hate insects. And PS I am definitely not a fan of hiking an underwater reef, and insects.
The jungle is full of insects. I don’t even know if this is scientifically a ‘jungle’, but it definitely felt like it, so you will have to duel me at dawn if you want me to NOT call it as much.
Insects are above you, beneath your feet, to your left, right, in front of you, behind you, and trying to crawl into whatever you’re carrying. We yesterday saw two spiders with yellow spots on their backs, and they were each the size of my fist.
This JUNGLE is of mangroves, which means that our trek inside was primarily with our feet in water of insects, and other things milling about. It’s clean water, but insects are always assholes. And mangroves are really creepy looking.
Inside the jungle, I at one point could feel a panic attack coming on and I am happy to report the discovery of a new phobia, friends: confined spaces, water, and flies. Though a jungle isn’t technically confined, the mangroves surrounding me everywhere but the narrow trail of shallow water in which we were walking felt confined. Mostly, I was looking down at my feet to make sure I didn’t trip, and avoided creepy crawlers. In fact, I was staring at my feet and the hundreds of flies swarming them; I looked to my right, mangroves. To my left, mangroves. Above me, mangroves. My body hit the panic button.
I was singing the following – You’re gonna be okay. You’re not gonna die. You’re not gonna fall. You’re not gonna die. You’re just fiiiiiiiiiine. Chicken salad lunch. Swim little feet swim. You love the ocean. Swim. You’re gonna be okay. Mangrove! Fun!
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It worked.
I focused my eyes a few feet ahead of me, rather than at my feet and the swarming. I decided that I’d only walk in the water / swim the entire way back rather than walk through the jungle again, even though this likely meant I would be walking/swimming for perhaps two hours longer than if I were to be inside of the jungle. That’s how real the panic was, friends.
When we finally came out to the ocean, I breathed relief and didn’t give a shit that we now had to hike the reef very slowly and carefully because this “nature treasure” will properly scrape your entire thigh off if you fall while moving too fast.
I was completely zoned out. My brain was singing, and my body was laser-focussed on moving forward slowly and not losing a thigh.
When we reached around the halfway mark, a good 90 minutes in, we voted and decided to not go forward anymore, but rather inwards into the water. Cleaner. Safer. All fresh air. No more reef. It was the right decision, because I think we would have needed another two hours to move across that reef, and then the return.
If it weren’t for Brian, who has all of the training for this, I would have never moved so far out of my comfort zone and felt safe to do so.
I was so happy to be moving deeper into the water that I needed to get as far away, as fast away from the jungle as possible. At first, I started running like a penguin – because that particular motion propelled me forward in much safer fashion than just waddling through the water. Then, when the water got too high for a penguin, I morphed into a stork. Simply, I figured that fashioning movement after animals is smarter than any other solution I might come up with because they know better about nature.
It was a real party.
When we landed on a stunning bit of shoal, we knew we had made all of the right decisions, to get to where we would have never otherwise imagined. Including the scrapes, the welts, and the panic attacks.
My feet and ankles are covered in small bites.
The best part? I suddenly have a welt in the middle of my forehead, like a unicorn. Maybe I am bringing home a new friend. Yay adventure!
Today, I am grateful for:
1. The feeling of a cold shower after spending an entire day in the JUNGLE.
2. Quiet shores. I have an allergy to crowded and music-fuelled and filled beaches. We are in a perfect spot here without any of this bullshit.
3. Falling asleep outside. Wind in the tropics is a proper lullaby.
Morro de São Paulo | Day 323 | October 19, 2019