Day 4: Preparing for Jungle Warfare
Our fourth day in Manaus turned out to be the most exciting for some of us. On the agenda was an introduction to the jungle warfare and survival training given by the Brazilian military. After a short lecture about the purpose and procedure of the training, we learnt how to build traps for small and medium-size animals in case we ever get lost in the middle of the jungle. While we hope that we will never have to use the acquired skills, it was impressive to see what a variety of traps can be built using only stones and tree branches. Luckily for the vegetarians among us, none of the traps we built during the demonstration caught anything. Later on, we were taught how to climb up a tree using special technique. To all of our embarrassment and the Navy’s amusement, none of us were able to climb more than around 30 centimetres. Thankfully the Navy wasn't intending on recruiting any of us.
After this physical exercise, we received another lecture about plants and fruit growing in the Amazon jungle. Members of the Navy explained to us which fruit were poisonous as well as which are edible but should be avoided because they taste rather disgusting. They also provided a large selection of the tasty and non-poisonous fruit which we were able to try. After we had the fruit as a starter, we moved on to try many of the different fish species found in the river. After we had to help to gut and prepare the fish, they were grilled on an open fire. Next to the fire stood a small goat tied to a tree. Initially, the lan was to prepare the goat as our main dish. Following the resistance of some of the vegetarians among us, however, the goat stayed alive and we had some more fruit and fish instead. A lucky day for the goat!
As dessert, the navy had a special treat for us: A bowl of fat white and living worms. According to the Navy, they taste like coconut. Only a few brave participants dared to try the worms. It was important to bite on them first as they were still alive when they were served to us. While some of us found the worms less disgusting than others, nobody really agreed with the Navy’s suggestion that they tasted like coconut. More like a warm and salty bit of toothpaste. Certainly a memorable experience!