THE STORY BEHIND WRITING 'IN THE TREES'

EXTRACTS FROM MY TRAVEL JOURNAL

Thursday
Sep152011

LEADERS, FOOD & HAVING FUN 

This group has one leader, one deputy, one doctor and one nurse.  I think I’ve got that right.  It also has daily leaders selected on a rota basis out of the team.  Every evening, these daily leaders brief the group on what their objectives will be for the following day and give out notices, including a reminder of who’ll be staying behind in camp to see to the many domestic chores which - even in a jungle setting - require attention, and act as cooks for the day.  This is called being ‘on admin’.  

The leader of the group is a brown-as-a-berry ex-marine called Sully, who sports a gold earring and a good sense of humour.  From my limited observation so far I’d say he’s the man to have around when stuck in a tight corner. The same could be said for Greg, the main difference between them being that Greg’s a man of few words whereas Sully’s plainly a man of many.

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Wednesday
Sep142011

VOLUNTEERS, SOLDIERS, LEADERS & FOOD

There are three types of people here that I want to write about, volunteers, soldiers and leaders, and one other facet of camp life - food. 

I’ll start with SOLDIERS.   There are two of them.  Conscripts.  They both look about the same age as the volunteers, the difference being that the volunteers chose the jungle, and the soldiers, if given a choice, would be anywhere else.   Tonight the boys in camp were trying to learn Kriol off them....

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Thursday
Aug182011

MEET THE SOUTHERN TEAM

The project’s to spend the next two months in this remote corner of Chiquibul building a bunkhouse to house forty soldiers and rangers to guard the forest from xatero attack, yet as far as I can make out none of the team have done any building work before [or had any experience of living in the jungle].  When I joined them, I found them sheltering under a tarpaulin   [very important, the tarp - there’s no other shelter up there].   Not that I’m suggesting that the team had been sheltering all day!  Far from it.  In just the last two days, they’ve cleared ground, dug holes for foundation poles to go in, hauled materials up from the river where they were dumped by the mule train [there’s been a certain amount of competition about this apparently – ie. who can haul the most, and for the longest time, before collapsing with heat stroke?] and cleared an area to create a helicopter landing-pad as a means of getting people out in an emergency, courtesy of the military...

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