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Better Run Through the Jungle

In the "Cult of Escapism": Better Run Through the Jungle

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Better Run Through the Jungle

In the Jungle

For the third time in an hour, Dave and I face a river dividing our path. He scopes for a shallow crossing while I look at my hiking boots. I could take them off and roll up my pants like I did before, or I could balance beam across a fallen log and jump to the other side. The river narrows and funnels between two rock cliffs and Dave helpfully reminds me that it would be very dangerous to get funneled downriver and smashed into these rocks. Thanks Dave.

Crossing the River
Rewind. Why are we in this position? Weeks ago, I agreed to come co-facilitate a session on inventory management in a town near my friend Dave’s community. After six hours on public busses, I met him for the final leg – a twenty kilometer ride in the back of a pickup truck into the jungle that takes two hours.

The ride takes you at extreme angles up and down mountains; the road is either mud or gravel. Sliding at the mercy of the angles, it feels like a fat guy is lying on top of you while his friend punches you in the stomach. Wheels spinning helplessly in the mud at one point, Dave informed me that we were probably going to die. Thanks again Dave.We survived (as you might have guessed) and confusion overtook nausea as Most Prominent Sensation.

“Where the hell are we?” I asked.
Dave laughed. “Guabal.”

Guabal is not on the map. It is, however, literally in the middle of the jungle. It’s as if God made a crop circle in the jungle a dropped a few people into it. In every direction are mid-sized mountains with giant-sized clouds on top. It rains most of the time. There’s no electricity or running water and the nearest cell signal is two hours away by car. There are sharks with laser beams attached to their foreheads roaming the streets.
A Wet Arrival

Seriously though, Dave has an isolated site. The surrounding mountains and clouds, compounded with the lack of communication options makes you feel like you’re inside a snow global. Luckily, Dave is a tough-minded individual who likes to read and hates electric lighting and refrigeration.

Dave's House
An hour from this tropical paradise, five co-owners of a store were awaiting a session on inventory management. So, the morning after my arrival, we began a one hour hike that would take an hour and a half and soak every centimeter of our bodies.

It was drizzling when we left, so we shed the rain jackets to stay cool and hiked with optimism down a muddy but manageable trail. Twenty minutes in, we crossed our first river, Dave charging through in his tall rubber boots and me walking barefoot, slowly and carefully, with hiking boots in hand. Forty minutes in, we were jumping from rock to rock to log to rock to stay out of deep mud. Fifty minutes in, and the sky was crying (apparently after a pretty tough break up).

Now dripping, we are facing the river from the beginning of this post. Wider and deeper and angrier than the first two, Dave and I are hesitant to use our normal approach. We decide that we will probably, whichever way, fall in the river. So we decide to film me crossing and then jumping from the fallen log. That way we can at least laugh about it later.

Crawling like a cat and jumping like a frog, I landed like and animal that doesn’t land gracefully on the opposite shore. Dave follows and we discuss our sanity and strange zeal for inventory management. When we arrive, our students admit that they weren’t expecting us with all the rain.
A Shoeless Consultant

Some highlights from the session:
-         - We ask each person to write one reason why they want to learn accounting and inventory management and one man writes “Accounting” as a response.
-         - Dave and I pretend not to notice that one participant is breastfeeding her child.
-         - My fingers go numb from being cold and wet.
-         - They feed us at the end of the session and the meal includes a juice box. I love juice boxes.


At April 24, 2011 at 7:08 PM , Blogger Ila said...

so that video will be posted in five minutes, right? because i want to see that

At April 29, 2011 at 10:43 AM , Blogger Ian said...

Crawling like a cat and jumping like a frog are prerequisits to Ngabe Jungle Accounting 101. Without a stong background in river-crossing, inventory management is near impossible.

Good to hear that you guys are getting the word out about accounting. This definitely a lot more fun then the lecture hall.

At February 12, 2013 at 9:58 AM , Blogger bama said...

Who would have thought to take inventory management and accounting out to the jungle??? Peace Corps rules, I guess. In my hiking days, such business ideas were far from my mind.


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