The barge finally arrived, and we have begun the trip downriver. It is very slow, and I think it would probably be faster to walk, except for the thickness of the jungle. It has taken us over a day to reach the first settlement, which has the regrettable name of Plotch.
There is an astonishing variety of birds and insects out here. The dawn chorus on the river this morning lasted for over an hour and was impossible to sleep through, containing both shrill screaming and trilling and a low rumbling that did not sound at all bird-like. One of the native oarsmen said it was a djat, but I was unable to tell from his hand gestures just what sort of creature that might be, although it is either very round, somehow inflatable, or lays very large eggs.
Our captain says that the natives believe that the dawn birds are the souls of women who die without husbands. I asked him what becomes of the men who die without wives, and he said “They die happy!” and stomped off. I begin to suspect that our good captain has been somewhat unlucky in love.
Plotch is very small, consisting of a cluster of native huts and the dock station, which is also the post office, the town hall, and the doctor’s office. There’s a souvenir stand directly outside, selling mug-nuts and raffia hats. I am sending you a jar of a local delicacy called “Grub Chutney” which I am assured is an anti-oxidant, vitamin-rich, boosts the immune system, and cures all manner of diseases, in hopes that it may prove helpful for your gout.
If not, you can give it Sonjia.
Your loving son,