Stuck In The Mud

Stuck In The Mud With Bear and Ralph

Somewhere back on the outskirts of the jungle I crossed a desolate rail track, the civilization of the twin iron girders an eternity away now I finally hit the off road on my little 125cc scooter, Mayday. We slip and slide along a saturated muddy path, deep dark jungle either side towering two stories high, a chorus of insect chirps deafening the chug of an overworked engine.

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Two girls sharing a bicycle pass by, the only people I’ve seen since I crossed the tracks. They smile knowingly, and pointing up the trail give me the thumbs down, but I’m too busy avoiding them and the pockmarked jungle path to pay much attention. Further down the jungle track and a derelict ten-story concrete block rises out the canopy, the bright blue corrugated roof contrasting with the lush jungle green. And then silence. I stop dead in my tracks, blood-red mud vomiting from the rear wheel, spray-painting the jungle wall with obscene graffiti. Mayday splutters, screams, and finally dies.

Stepping off Mayday, my once blue trainers have now taken on a distinctly syrupy red tone as I sink a foot into the mud soup, cursing my negligence but relieved the Nikons are still in one piece. Wading back, I assess the rather bleak situation and surmise in a most Bear Grylls manner that I’m a bit f*cked. No rope, no tools, and no people to help leaves me with a few dismal options, and with 70km to the nearest village, I honestly don’t want to start walking. Mayday had only sunk a foot or so, and while the mud was saturated, it wasn’t too viscous. Pulling my legs free I leave a trainer buried deep, spend 15 minutes extracting it, and then penetrate the jungle foliage looking for nature’s tools to plan my escape. It’s the only viable option.

Time passes, maybe an hour, maybe two, I wasn’t sure. It could have been days, but more probably ten minutes. Finally, I emerge with pockets stuffed full of leaves, branches and twigs underarm ready to exact Mayday’s prison-break.

With a bed of leaves jammed deep under each wheel and a make-shift track of pathetic looking branches I summon Bear and Ralph for moral support, kick the engine to life and start jiggling Mayday for all she’s worth. Sweat pours. The rear wheel kicks, bucks and frees itself giving a jump of momentum to the front, both now free from the slippery mud, spinning wheels looking for grip on the meagre twigs. Cursing loudly in my best Chinese, I push Mayday one final time and burying the wood beneath she somehow finds purchase, ejecting victoriously onto dryer land. Mayday clatters to the floor, engine still turning and leaves me kneeling a foot deep in the mud, somewhere in the middle of the jungle.

Dripping with sweat, surrounded by graffitied jungle, sucking in heavy engine fumes, and burnt to a mid-afternoon crisp, I’m finally free and blissfully happy that I now might have a chance of getting home. I call that a win.