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Cold night, hot tea

Oct 29, 2008

Location: Kumai, Borneo
Author: Nick Herman
As we nestled down in our mosquito net covered beds we all donned our usual sleeping attire, the bare minimum required clothing. As the night progressed, however, we began to awake. Not because someone was waking us up for watch or even because the anchor was dragging, but because for the first time over the 45 days we have spent on this trip, we were cold. We began to cope with the cold in our own way. Some put more clothes on, others had blankets. Those of us less prepared, however, went to greater extremes. We disassembled our beds and slept under the sheets that covered our mattresses. The less ingenious of us (i.e. me) simply curled up in a ball all night. Once we all awoke once and for all, it was a simple matter of taking down the mosquito nets and putting away the mattresses. We then sat there looking around, half enjoying the sights and sounds, half waiting for orders to do something. Luckily, our cooks had gotten up early and made us a fantabulous breakfast, oh yes, it was fantabulous. It consisted of scrambled eggs, banana fritters, toast, coffee, tea, and a delicious jam, oh and let’s not forget the condensed milk. After the fantabulous breakfast we motored downriver to the second site. We got to the camp and hiked right to the feeding area. Here we had our first encounter with a dominate male, Doyo. He was a massive orangutan who displayed his dominance by hoarding all the bananas for himself. The females keep their distance and waited for him to get his fill before approaching. Once he left we all got a little apelike. Some of the group climbed up some smaller trees to imitate the orangutans, but it was a little too real when one of them started getting angry and thought we were encroaching on its territory. We quickly backed down and moved on. We moved to the third site and found that we had some time to kill. We watched the locals build a canoe and then played an intense game of soccer with our tour guides. The teams were a lopsided four on six yet the game was still competitive. We then moved to the feeding area where we had a quick encounter with another dominant male, whose name escapes me. After some quick pictures we retreated to the boats. On the way back we armed ourselves with some souvenirs. Once aboard we had a delicious lunch and continued on to a small village. Once at the village we all dispersed. Two of us, Aaron and Chris, ended up at a woman’s house who was making palm frond roofs. They both helped out and got some nice rice cooker bags. We then effectively bought all the food from their little house stores. Once back at the boat we had one last tea time and headed to Argo. Once back we had our first dinner down below, due to the severe rain storm unleashing its fury on us. We all needed a little fresh water rinse, including Argo. All of this fun came on the half way point as well. Today was day 45 on our 90 day voyage. It seems like only yesterday that we were all standing wide eyed on the dock at Cairns, and now we are playing with orangutans in Borneo. It doesn’t get any better than this.