|We left Peru and went to Ecuador, our sixth and final South American country. We went to Banos, a pleasant enough, yet forgettable, little town and then went and camped in the Rio Verde for about four days. Our time here was divided between walks in the day and early nights where we cowered from violent thunder storms in our tent and played chess (picked up a cool travel chess board in Peru that has things like llamas instead of knights etc and is whizz bang) whilst drinking rum. I am currently the undefeated chess champion of the world and universe and all known and unknown places ever, and I know how annoying it makes me and I apologise to Georgie for being so good, modest and conceited, even when sporting prowess (chess burns up lots of calories, an intense game is probably on a par with a round of cage fighting) should be cheered and rewarded, but the fact is I am very good, my prowess increasing exponentially with rum consumed and I am proud to the point of just being a git, and it is on reflection not my genius that I apologise for, but my utterly abhorrent conceited attitude to victory.
The Rio Verde is, as its name cunningly implies, a big green river, with large canyons of jungle jutting upwards. It is a springboard to the Amazon lowlands. One of the big attractions here is waterfalls, and they are littered around the place with casual abandonment. As I’m sure many of you can imagine, Georgie was rather excited about the prospect of so many gushing treats. We took a jungle walk into the hills along a path that was so narrow and strewn with bush that had we had the privilege of meeting one of nature’s deadliest snakes there would have been little quarter given from either party. At one point the path virtually disappeared and we ended up climbing a cliff using jungle vines until we reached a point where the only way to advance would have been a vertical leopard crawl through snake lair, and it was at this point that we decided that, having already paid the jungle with copious amounts of sweat, it had taken all it was to have from us, for now...
The big bonus with the walk, however, was taking us past seven waterfalls in total. Some were fairly tame a few were more impressive (we saw one at that went over the side of the canyon into the river below and that was the best we’ve seen since the big kahuna in Argentina). We had been rather worried that after Iguassu no waterfall would ever have what it takes to whip Georgie into a waterfall lust frenzy. We were thus pleasantly surprised to discover that those cascading unions of white love still arouse in Georgie a certain fixation and in myself a pathological urge to squeeze the trigger of my camera shutter and hold it down while emitting muffled grunts of pleasure. However, it was in the arena of the watery pleasure zone that disaster and tragedy struck.
Tired and sweating profusely beneath the jungle’s cruel hand, we were enchanted when we came to a waterfall with a large pool that enabled one to jump in and cool off beneath the ice cold water. The jungle bathe was idyllic and peaceful, having not met a single soul all day. On getting out the water, Georgie had failed to secure the camera in the bag and when aforementioned bag was lifted up, poor old Snapper went tumbling, through my eyes in slow motion, into and beneath the icy water. Its fate seemed to follow a hereditary pattern, as two of Snapper’s older brothers both met similar fates, joining the homogenous unmarked grave of the blue planet (the third brother, as you will recall, was abducted by banditos). To Georgie’s credit, while I was still stood, wide eyed and frozen as an invisible hand of ice was crushing my heart in an almost supernaturally powerful vice, Georgie had leapt from the rocky ledge on which we stood, plunging beneath the icy waters of death. It was only seconds later that I found myself staring down at the still and wet body of Snapper 4, my cries of anguish bouncing around the tightly packed trees stood so still and watching. To lose one Snapper is bad luck. To lose two is a coincidence of bad luck. To lose three is just carelessness and bloody stupidity, man. To lose four, however, is criminal. I was, at the time of this tragedy, officially on the Camera Police’s list as the most dangerous and wanted camera criminal in the world.
Applying emergency first aid to Snapper 4 I stripped it of battery and card and spent the next half day trying to dry it out. When I tried turning it on it did some very strange things, couldn’t focus properly and random menus kept coming up for no reason, but Snapper was alive, even if it was in some sort of coma sprinkled with brief moments of consciousness. Again I attempted to dry it out and eventually, against all technical wisdom, Snapper 4 rose from the grave! This miracle is not without its scars. It is still doing some slightly weird things, like menus keep popping up uninvited. As yet, at the time of writing, it is still working, however, and saying “Thank Christ it’s alive!” is as close as an agnostic like me comes to a religious experience when faced with an event that defies science.