Floodwaters Finally Down, Casey’s Back With More Fun Jungle Anguish
When we last left Casey at the end of April, the floodwaters had risen too high, Casey and his guide, Diego, already had close calls with their lives. Under the stress, Diego had uncharacteristically drunken himself silly while accusing Casey of a suicide mission. There was only a small swath of jungle and river remaining to get to the city of Iquitos (population 378,000). But Casey finally made the decision to put a several month hold on the journey and wait for the rains to die down and the floodwaters to recede.
Fast forward to July, the floodwaters were down but the misadventures poured in. These consisted of, a machete cut down to the bone on Casey's hand, and a sting by a bullet ant (considered one of the most painful stings in the world; likened to getting shot by a bullet). Add to that a strenuous two-week trek with heavy packs "digging into [his] shoulders" and intense heat and humidity.
The rain was nearly incessant and there was one 17 continuous hour period of severe thunderstorms. Lightning struck just a few feet away from them, and there were "trees falling like ninepins all around us in the night". It rained almost every evening setting up camp and in the morning breaking down camp. Casey said there was more mud and mosquitoes than he had seen since the beginning of the expedition.
Next was the final 8mi (13km) swim across and down the Amazon to Iquitos. This included crossing a large polluted outflow river from the city to which Diego commented, "I wouldn’t swim across the river here for a million dollars!” Sadly, we bid farewell to Diego now as he headed back to his native Brazil.
Now alone, Casey walked the next 60 miles to Nauta, a town that sits near the confluence of the Amazon's two great tributaries, the Maranon and the Ucayali. The Maranon may have the higher discharge rate of the two rivers, but adventurers usually demarcate the Ucayali tributary as the Amazon's source, perhaps because it is longer.
During the past few deluge months, Casey has taken care of a lot of politics and busywork so that he can continue up the Amazon's Ucayali tributary. This included getting permission from the Ashaninka and Shapibo indigenous lands after speaking personally with their chiefs and presidents all the way down in Pucallpa.
Next he has planned to do some major swims across the Maranon and Ucayali including traversing some of the islands so that he can get to the east bank of the Ucayali Amazon and onward to Requena.
He is on the lookout for another guide. The risks in this next region are considerable due to a strong anti-Caucasian sentiment and fear, and bandit groups with cocaine plantations and arms caches. Being assisted by a native guide will prove invaluable.