Squeezing the most out of life | An Aussie and a Colombian living life with a wandering spirit. Eight years together & over 60 countries up our sleeves, we're sharing the love |

It’s a jungle out there!

We had all the best intentions; get to know the Amazon, explore nature, live within an indigenous community, maybe even create a successful community garden. We even hoped to get passing travellers to donate money to locals for building materials and community needs.

We had planned on staying a minimum of six months, running and developing the Hostel we worked at. But recently our boss in England had called us paranoid “Living by yourselves in a remote place can make you too sensitive about your safety”, “I’ve checked and there haven’t even been any kidnapping’s in Leticia lately”. Needless to say, not well respected responses to our concerns.

Over the past couple of weeks things went from warm and fuzzy to worrying about every little noise in the dark. Locals were hungry for our garden bounty and without wanting to harm us, sneaking into our garden all night and picking food. Making noises, creating uneasy guests and generally scaring the shit out of us (me mostly).

Ironically we had imagined sharing a permaculture space with some of our friends in the village. Ironic because it ended up being villagers that where sneaking in to our farm at night, cutting down trees to grab the recently prolific caimo fruit. Our exotic garden that so appealed to us when we took the job, suddenly made us the richest plot in the village and everyone wanted a piece of it.

We didn’t want trouble. As much as Andres is from Colombia, the politics and history of the Amazon community operates under some of it’s own laws. Namely that people kind of sort each other out when something is considered wrong or bad behaviour for the community as a whole. We were smart enough to realise that even though we weere never personally threatened, that people were watching us, getting closer every day, and we assume, without much respect for our different backgrounds. We chose not to wait and see.

The jungle really does have a visually sinister side. When you live alone, (sometimes we wouldn’t have tourists for a week to ten days or Andres would be taking tourists on overnight camp outs and I was there completely alone), the noises and shadows of night can run away with your imagination. Bird calls can become a subtle communication between locals, chickens scratching can become the sound of a large snake. The thing is you can never really know whether you are acutely aware or starting to diffuse reality. All we know is that over time we became scared enough to sit up all night, looking out in to the darkness with torches in hand and watching each others back. We only did that for a few nights before our decision to leave was easy.

We’ve tried to make a business in to something it’s never going to be, without some major cash injection and a boss that shares our vision, our basic enthusiasm would have always felt thwarted. Our boss had the nerve to terminate our contract before we got to, sighting the fact that we where unable to deal with the fear of intruders, and consequently staying overnight somewhere else where we felt safe (even though we had no guests) as a breach of responsibility. Somehow he thought we might have slipped away in the night and stolen his piece of shit motorbike.

It’s funny how people that lay that on you only create a worse situation. All we wanted to hear was that he was worried about our safety, intervene with the locals he has known for several years, maybe even hire a security guard. We would have appreciated it. Instead the comments that we were paranoid, a little pathetic, and that we had run away with his crappy property put us on the back foot. We hadn’t even packed up our stuff, we needed a night’s sleep away from the Hostel and suddenly we had done everything wrong.

But there have been a lot of highlights during our Amazon stay, we definitely feel like we got to know a unique environment and get a sense of how different the community of people living there values things in life, things that some of us have forgotten to appreciate. We managed to live basically with nature, be resourceful with what we had, experience the fun of showing other travellers places we were excited about, and ultimately live in both a natural and party atmosphere.

We are also very aware of local talk, apparently the jungle expels those that don’t feel completely comfortable within it’s personality. You start to listen to nature more as it becomes 90% of your vision, aware of the power to influence your daily mood, even your resilience. Consequently, we left all natural Amazon tokens behind, from the smallest seed to the largest colourful plume (discarded from our friend Paco’s tail), cautious that the energy of the place should be maintained in situ. Also in a way not wanting to mess with the power of Mother nature.

Sitting in Bogota now, the sounds of the city filling our space, the memory of living in a wild environment will always be easy to recall, and fondly. Sometimes keeping the positive memory is as much about knowing when to back out as it is forgetting the hard and uncomfortable bits. For us the Amazon will always be an untamed and crazy beast, something you want to look at intimately because of it’s unique beauty, but very sure that if you get too close it’s going to bite you.


To destroy is still the strongest instinct in nature. Max Beerbohm

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There are 10 Comments to "It’s a jungle out there!"

  • Rusty Wood says:

    Wow guys. What a climactic end to your amazonian adventure. It sucks that ultimately it ended this way. But you have already written the positives out in your very own words: you have had an experience in the amazon jungle that very few people will ever have. And, despite the freaky night time incursions, you have left safely and in one piece.

    I know you oh so well. This will just be a stepping stone to the next crazy destination. Best of all, you can chalk this one up as a learning experience. The next stop will be even easier to slip into 😉

    Glad you are both well. Hugs to Andres for me.


  • sporks says:

    Thanks Rusty, it’s all good, the benefits of leaving are already revealing themselves. We sat down over Mexican food today and planned a long way home. If it works out we’ll get Andres’s visa application in while we’re in Bogota, then while we wait 6 to 10 months for approval we figured we would see a bit more of Colombia,followed by Central America to Mexico overland, then plane it to Asia and make it home in two well explored pieces. But that’s the plan of today so who knows, and you’re totally right…the next stop will be even easier to slip in to. Ultimately it’s all about making a fun journey home to Brisbane however long that takes. Tell Bob we’ll be hoping to catch him as soon as we get back. Love to you, Hearnz and our favourite furries. k&a

  • d. says:

    jesus.h. i’ve got the jitters just reading this. you guys are absolute poster-children for living a full life. i’m even more in awe of you than the day you left. i wish i had even just a little bit of your courage and spirit. glad to see you’re still being good to yourselves. d.

  • sporks says:

    Thanks a lot D, felt more like adrenalin than courage, but that’s ok too 😀 Miss you guys xx

  • Chris Smalley says:

    Wow! I’m not sure I understand exactly what the specific threat is (if there is any), but it’s a scary story nonetheless. Way to go for staying alert and getting out when you thought it best!

  • sporks says:

    Thanks Chris, it was the night garden intruders that made us jumpy, yielding normal jungle variety machetes but scary none the less. How long till your lift off? Are you starting in BA? Love to follow your travels so please keep us posted.

  • Chris Smalley says:

    Currently we have our eye on tickets to La Paz because it’s a cheap place to fly, fairly centrally located, and we are planning on arriving a bit before the rainy season (October) so we can enjoy the weather in Bolivia. Ticket prices just keep dropping right now, so we’re kinda waiting for what we think will be the lowest price – probably sometime in July. I will definitely keep you updated. Thanks for blogging!

  • sporks says:

    Sounds like a good plan Chris, that’s not long till lift off then! Let us know how we can follow your adventures 😀

  • I really like your blog!
    I am going to Colombia in a weeks time to see my Colombian girl friend there and was wondering to go to the Amazon region. I’ve seen the Amazon a couple of times (Peru + Brazil) and only have 3 weeks in Colombia – would you recommend going there? This blog post tells me no…

  • kris says:

    Hey Mr London,

    Don’t be fooled by this post, the Amazon is amazing and it’s mostly about finishing off a weird working experience. But with only 3 weeks I’d suggest a few other places, especially if you are landing in Bogota? San Gil is super chilled, the coast is great.

    Let us know if you’re in need of persuasion in a certain direction or if we can give you any more info. If you’re with your Colombian girlfriend she probably knows the best spots for this time of year anyway.

    Have fun! 😀

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