I told tales of Mattheas our guide through the 4 days here. At times he is curt, short, and demanding. Other times he is knowledgable, funny, and kind. He is without a doubt always unexpected. At the core he is less a tour guide and more a teacher. His goal isn't simply to run through the guidebook manual of where to take the tourists. He aims to educate us what it's really like to live the river life. Born in Guyana, he spoke English fluently. "The chosen one" - he told us. That's the meaning of his name. We noticed after the second day that other tour groups sharing the same common space didn't seem that ecstatic about their activities. After a few conversations with them we realized that we were not on the "usual" agenda. In the usual agenda, one lets go of the piranha fished. One does not attempt late night spear fishing, nor goes to the lengh that Mattheas go to show us his world. I felt so lucky to be in Mattheas's group. All 4 of us did. We became great friends with him. We eat with him. Crack jokes with him. Other groups remain separate from their guides.
Day 4 is our last day. We took the boat out for one last peaceful, agenda-free river run. I'm going to miss this place. There's nothing else like it. The Amazon -- a romantic concept of deep forest far and away from all things familiar. I'm glad I experienced it with the group that I did.
When asked "If you were stuck in the jungle for 3 days and you can only bring 3 things with you what would they be?" ... Mattheas answered "A machete, my swiss army knife, and another machete". Before we wrapped up our trip, our crew decided we would get ourselves a machete in honor of Mattheas. We weasle our way into getting him to boat us over to the store down stream by challenging him whether he can do it in 18 minutes. He agreed. We all jumped into a new tiny motor boat and sped into the water.
Along the way he swerved swiftly onto a random river bank.. "Quick Thaniya, tie the boat." "Sir yes sir" ... I ran up, tied the boat. He jumps to the front. "I need rope. Who has rope. I need rope. Now." There was no rope on the boat. "Can you use this belt?" .. He took my belt, wrapped it around his belly, and proceeded up the limpy tree perched on the water. What. The. Fuck. ... In true Mattheas style, there was no story, no info, no heads up, nothing. We found out 13 seconds up the tree that he was climbing to get A GIANT SLOTH that was on it. Oh my god. Did I tell you this tree was super limpy? I mean it was swaying like nobody's business with his weight. Struggle ensued on the tree top as he almost reached the poor animal. Yank. Yank. Yank. No go. Sloth swung over to another branch and gave him a victorious grin. It was a good whopping 5 minutes more before he gave up and climbed back down. And the belt? Oh, it was suppose to be for tying the sloths' head so he can tote it on his back as he climbs down. Why am I glad he didn't catch the poor thing. Mattheas: 0, Sloth: 1 .. once again. (Apparently this isn't the first time he tried). That was his parting gift to us, his style. Man of many actions and few words. We love you.