Monday, January 29, 2007

Grandpa's New Chainsaw

The last time I was in Pucallpa I got an email from my generous grandfather telling me that he had deposited money in my checking account for a new chainsaw for the project. We have been using a couple of beastly chainsaws to cut even very small bushes and they are very tiring besides taking a long time to sharpen and being harder to tighten the chain etc. John and I went to the bank where I withdrew the money and then while the rest of the group was waiting in line at the post office to get packages through customs I went and bought a Stihl 250 with an 18" bar (as opposed to the meter long bars on the other saws).

The first day working with the saw was wonderful I could freely walk through brush and could even cut things that were higher than my waist without expending an incredible ammount of energy. I finished clearing in the more open area that we were working and proceeded to the actual "Selva". While I was trying to clear my way in to the first tree I saw the tail of one of our friendly neighbours sticking out from some brush. Not knowing the difference between different types of wildlife here I made the foolish descision to kill first, and ask questions later. I traced the tail forward to the head of a 7+ foot rainbow boa (that we could have sold alive for $1000 USD) and after a fair bit of work was able to cut the head of with the chainsaw.

When I came out to where John and Jackson were working, John came running at me swinging his machete and had I not told him that the snake was already dead I am convinced that he would have started hacking at me in an attempt to kill the snake.

I learned my lesson though, and if I find another large snake I won't kill it... unless more than half of me is inside it - just think of the tools we could buy with an extra thousand dollars!

Monday, January 15, 2007

ants, wasps, and granadilla

My past week could be characterized by three main points - besides what I was actually supposed to be doing.

John and I have been clearing trees from a section of land at our km38 project on which we intend to plant fruit trees. What we hadn't bargained on was that each tree has either an ant nest, or, more commonly, one or more wasp nests.

We quickly found a solution to the ant nests with a little gasoline and a lighter after which the nest might smolder for several hours before it was burned completely up. Then, with the aid of some beekeeping equipment decided to try the same weapon against the wasps. Unfortunately the mesh which my veil is made up of is large enough for these little friends to enter through and leave small presents on various parts of my anatomy.

The best strategy I have found so far is to squirt the nest with gasoline, quickly run over to where the unprotected John is watching, ditch the little devils onto him, and then return to light the nest on fire.

Here is John after trying to give an unsucessful butterfly kiss to one of the friendly residents of our land ... such as the one seen at right.

One can't have all bad without any benefits and I
was blessed enough to discover a place where there are tons of wild granadilla growing. These are essentially passion fruit although different people make different distinctions between the various kinds. The appearance is something like that of the wasp larvae that we are killing but for those who can get past their looks they are delicious. John and I have probably each eaten twenty of them this week alone.