New Guide, Milestone Town, New Tributary, Saliva Alcohol
As Casey had predicted in his last installment, it was very difficult returning to the point where he was forced to abandon.
"It took a toll on me physically and emotionally, as well as depleting most of my meager expedition funds," said Casey.
But thanks to Ashanaka chief Guillermo Rosas and Susana Silva Morales, the Supreme President of the Ashaninka people, Casey was introduced to a walking partner and guide named Quentisha (Quentisha Miqueas Levi) who speaks the local language and was able to quickly and easily explain Casey's mission - something he had to do over and over. This turned out to be quite essential.
One of the communities they visited had never seen a visitor of European descent and the villagers were very excited to greet Casey. They had been informed in advance of Casey's arrival by VHF radio. This was so as not to startle a people who have had their territory exploited and invaded recently and historically.
Many of the elated villagers greeted him with masato as he arrived. Masato is an alcohol created from the mastication of yucca. Mastication, for those not familiar, is the chewing of something and spitting it out, in this case, the yucca. So the drink is then a fermented yucca and saliva, with flavorings.
This leg of the journey, which was about 78 miles, went by much faster and with fewer hitches than the last. On one day they were able to walk 25 miles through connecting dusty roads.
In one instance they were crossing a section of jungle that appeared pristine and the satellite maps showed three more miles of jungle, but, to their surprise, there were suddenly tree stumps everywhere. Next, they had a 50ft wide freshly-cut road which Quentisha estimated would likely take them to where they needed to go on the Ucayali Amazon.
Suddenly they no longer had the shade and cooling effect of the canopy and the sun was scorching. Logs were stacked on the sides of the road for collection.
“Mi corazon tiene dolour,” (I have pain in my heart) said Quentisha. He had fallen silent and Casey had asked him if he was ok. He explained how he was saddened by the road and the destruction of the forest.
They ran into some skinny Asheninka villagers with children on the road. They explained that they used to hunt in the forest right next to their village but now that forest was gone and they had to trek for days on end to reach forest to hunt in. They gave them food and biscuits, wished them good luck and continued on.
Ahead lay Atalaya, the milestone Casey had his sights on for months. It's a small town at the confluence of the Tambo and Urubamba Rivers, where they come together to form the Ucayali which eventually leads to the Amazon proper.
After Quentisha was greeted by many old friends on the outskirts and offered countless drinks of masato, they finally arrived.
Mountains can now be seen in the background. The rivers flow much faster and there are even some clear streams descending from the mountains. Next, Casey will follow the Tambo tributary.