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Seasquirt

The adventures of Fe & Chris

Archive for Food

Jungle birthday

On Friday I celebrated my birthday with a nice long walk (back up the previously mentioned horrible muddy trail) doing bird counts with Chris at 5am. A Quetzal kindly made an appearance to wish me Happy Birthday, and we got to walk along probably the most pretty, if most difficult, transect I have done yet. The transect took us to 2,100m elevation and provided some wonderful views over the rest of the forest. It also contained the elfin forest - “Bosque Enano” which is completely different to the surrounding, enormous trees of the rest of the forest. It was a truly special place with lots of moss and lichen - seemed very lord of the rings or some such, although disappointingly no birds.bosque.jpg

After staggering back to camp (literally in my case), we went up to the nearby river for a much needed wash - it was a wee bit chilly, but almost fine once you got under the water completely! We then had a celebratory chocolate bar and a nice afternoon nap.

In the evening I was surprised with a nice cake that had been prepared all afternoon. What was more surprising was that they managed to make it with the limited cooking facilities available - the cake tasted lovely though and was topped by some innovative candles made from “magic wood” - a type of pine which smells very nice and in theory lights easily, except when on a birthday cake apparently! Since it was a bit burnt on the bottom (due to the innnovative cooking methods) I found a machete to be the best form of attack. It really did taste good though!

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Mud, mud glorious mud…

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Over the last few days I have been on another small break from base camp and ran away with Chris (well, actually walked quite slowly) to another satellite camp called Cantiles. Everyone who’s been there has come back saying it’s nice, but muddy, although we weren’t quite prepared for how true this turned out to be - it was rather treacherous to have so much mud on a slope of a considerable gradient - Glastonbury eat your heart out! I was always amazed when I made it from my tent to the kitchen without slipping on my bum! The walk there was quite an experience too - luckily I had quite a small pack but it was a long trek that involved more mud and numerous undulations - hopefully I will be superfit by the end of this (although somewhat doubtful).

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The camp itself was lovely - the most jungly camp so far with lots of huge trees ( there is a 50 metre tall Liquidambar in the kitchen), a couple of pet Chestnut-headed brushfinches (Chris is teaching me well), and the occasional Quetzal - yes, we have finally had a couple of good views of them, though no photos as yet.

Some of the excess mud had been skillfully crafted into an effigy of the forest ’spook’ known to Hondurans as Eddie Tyler (though I’m sure this is not the correct spelling). He’s a cheery looking chap:

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We ate plentifully as the camp is due to close soon and had copious quantities of food. Chris is desperately trying to get fat after the harsh comments on his Guanales post! He made great inroads on the Cantiles Cheese Mountain and did some damage to the excess cornflakes & jam.

Lipton Tea

I’d like to make my thoughts known on Lipton tea:

It’s terrible stuff.

Sadly it’s all we get here. Produced for the North American market, I believe but I don’t know the origins of the tea itself. Honduras not being a former colony is sadly not awash with fine teas. Coffee is plentiful but makes me a bit wobbly.

We have found that adding two teabags to a cup makes reasonable strength tea, however during a tragic tea crisis at Cantiles field camp we were reduced to making two cups from one bag. Dreadful situation. Used teabags were stored and dried for later use. (Curiously at the same time we had a glut of cheeses and honey.)

We should be able to find some good quality tea in Belize - thank goodness for the Empire!

El Danto

I have recently returned from the deepest darkest, and most remote part of Cusuco National Park.

I spent two weeks at a field camp called El Danto (the Tapier) which is six hours’ walk from the nearest civilisation of Santo Tomas (a small shop, a bunch of dispersed houses, and another OpWall camp).

El Danto is in the thick of the cloud forest, situated by a rather beautiful stream. Accomodation is mostly in hammocks suspended between the trees, and in the few flat areas tents are squeezed in. The large dining table, kitchen area & shelving are made entirely from staves cut from the forest (the table was made last year and the underside is starting to rot). Two large tarpaulins keep the rain off.

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The stream provides a scenic, if rather cold bathing facility. The trench for toilet matters is up a steep hill and provides fine birdwatching (and sometimes snakewatching). Clothes can be washed but due to the humidity take two to three days to dry and often have to be finished of by a night in ones sleeping bag.

Food is provided by two nice Honduran ladies who stay with us for five days a week and cook rice, beans and maize tortillas in vast quantities. On lucky evenings we were given salty cheese.

A sunny morning

To prevent us from getting lost, bitten by snakes or into any other mischeif we were guided around the forest by men from a nearby-ish town. They wielded large machetes in occasionally alarming ways, necessitating walking a few steps behind them, but were generally agreeable, and endured my terrible Spanish with a spring in their step and a laugh on their face.

Since then I’ve been drying out in Buenos Aires and am now back in Base Camp with Fe.

Three little pigs…

Another highlight of the last week was the arrival of three freshly slaughtered pigs at base camp. Although the cooks were wanting to know how to cook them, and the men on camp were excited at the prospect of finally getting some proper meat, they were carted off into the forest by Matt - our camp manager - who seems to be willing to do anything. It made a pretty impressive sight:

Matt and Pig

The pigs are being used by a forensic science dissertation student who wants to look at the succession of insects that visit the dead animals. They have hopefully been placed at a good distance from the camp so we don’t have to smell them as they rot away - bets are being taken for when the girl doing the project will throw up first! I’m not sure what this project has to do with conservation, but it’s certainly a talking point!

More guacamole?

Now we are safely in Quetzaltenago we have been eating. We are staying in what the manual describes as a ”spotless guest house” called Casa Kaehler (and indeed there is a little woman who cleans all day long). Breakfast is included in the price, so being Scottish I opted for the largest choice: burritos - not too disimilar to my dinner of fajitas the previous evening, and perhaps even larger. This is all very good, an I enjoy guacamole and salsa as much as the next man, perhaps even more, but I worry that I may turn green soon.

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