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2077 miles. Two men. One boat.
Mark de Rond and Anton Wright will row the entire length of the Amazon River in September and October 2013.

On skinny-dipping and caymans

  • 2 SEP 2013
  • By Mark de Rond

La Casa Fitzcarraldo has a gorgeous little pool that, thankfully, needs no chlorine. Using filters and an aluminium-based compound, the water stays clean, or until we get to it in any case: Anton and I have taken to skinny-dipping in the middle of the night. I had a go at around midnight last night, Anton at 3am. The pool's pretty much right outside of our bedroom door and helps take the edge off the heat. And frankly it feels kind of nice to have removed all firewalls between skin and the elements - even if climbing out of an ice-cold pool naked is never a proud moment, or at least for me it isn't.

Spent the past two days at an eco-lodge in the jungle, testing the Sat phone and tracker given us by Voyage Manager. I absolutely love the idea of having the CJBS community so closely involved with our (now rapidly sinking) dream of a 'world first': Voyage Manager is partly run by a MBA alumnus, as is Grey Dog Tea; our Cambridge gin was distilled and bottled by a colleague, our website built and maintained by others, the boat part-painted by yet another; corporate sponsorship was achieved with the help of our friends at JBSEEL and the Möller Centre. The whole shebang is genuinely 100% homemade.

So is some of our other stuff: a Brit named Dave Rainbow-something has supplied us with an insect repellent the colour of molasses - made in his kitchen sink. The stuff smells like mulled wine (no kidding) and stains like nothing you've ever seen. Because the spraying mechanism is so powerful, what doesn't land on our limbs lands on our white bedroom walls. Hadn't noticed it until last night but now not sure what to tell the proprietor. Tried scrubbing it off but it won't surrender, and the damn stuff is everywhere. We'll give it another go tonight, with shampoo. Our rum is homemade too - having purchased a couple of bottles en route. The stuff looks murky but tastes pretty good, and came with a blowpipe and three darts.

Tried an alternative, and freely available, insect repellent: termites. What you do is this: slice a piece of a termites nest using your machete, stick you hand in it and once it's covered with termites, you rub them all of your arms. The acid they excrete in their dying moments works brilliantly to ward off mosquitos.

Those that survived the onslaught, we ate. Apparently they're good for you (though our guide might have been having us on).

We were kinder to tarantulas: the one our guide managed to catch we passed around like motzah at Kiddush. Same with a juvenile cayman, monkey and sloth. Really the only truly unsettling experience was that of a toucan giving chase, his beak the size of Anton's pecker, so he said (sure thing, buddy). Patti, our 'race manager' ended up on the wrong end of a massive turkey, and with a nasty cut across her belly. She's been brilliant, and we couldn't have done this race without her, and has asked for nothing more, payment-wise, than for us to take her to a karaoke once in a while. Tonight I'll give Robbie Williams a shot.

Yet the most surprising thing about our two-day stint in the jungle was a brand new discovery - a means of making up for time lost with additional boat speed and one of keeping us safe (relatively speaking).

So there's your cliff-hanger ... All will be unveiled mañana.