I can’t believe our first day is over; despite being utterly exhausted I’m disappointed that I only managed a half day. But the morning went by incredibly fast, absorbed in the excitement and novelty of this dense, magical forest.
It still astonishes me that we arrived at the forest via boat -- we turned off the main Yoko and essentially boated through a sunken forest, disembarking finally in thick and tangled vegetation.
We didn’t see chimps, but we saw plenty of signs of them. Food, mostly, but I saw my first chimp nest, high in the canopy!
And I spotted a nest the trackers hadn’t seen yet!
I have a new respect for the skills of people who can sneak up on chimps, and move silently, even if they are hunters. I devoted all my energy to watching where my feet were going and keeping an eye out for chimp shit (which we didn’t find) that it was nearly impossible not to crash haphazardly through the brush.
The sun was shining brightly above, but inside the forest everything was green and dark and warm.
I made it a good three hours of constant walking through dense vines and shrubs before my legs started to really hurt, and Cleve decided to continue on and send us back to camp. I was glad for it, though it took every last bit of me to keep it together when our tracker, Richard, appeared to be lost and my own sense of direction was completely absent.
Going in circles, each step felt increasingly difficult as my muscles could barely lift my legs over the bountiful vines on the ground. But we did finally get to the boats, and my desperation faded.
One can only hope tomorrow is easier -- it’s not often it’s this easy to admit when you’re out of your element and depth.