My story from my time in the jungle in Peru
By Simon Barget
More or less I’ve had a good life apart from the time I spent fourteen days in a cellophane bag inside a box. The problem with life is that you really don’t know what’s going to happen next. Even if you think you do. The bag was about 12cm by 8cm with one of those seal grips that scrunches closed. I don’t know why I’m suddenly thinking about it now, I mean I’m out now, so what does it matter?
After they put me in the bag, they put the bag in a small wooden box. So I was one thing inside another inside a third. The bag wasn’t really air-tight and the box wasn’t at all. It was a bit of a makeshift box where you put your belongings to keep them safe, but there was no lock on the box, anyone could have just come along and opened it. The box isn’t really important, it’s just a detail setting the scene.
Before they put me in the bag, they turned me off. I’ve been turned off before but not all that often. Being turned off is neither fish nor fry. I should be more precise. The moment of being turned off is slightly galling but after you’ve fired yourself down, you don’t really mind all that much.
See; I wasn’t to know I’d be spending another two weeks in that bag in that box. And if I had, would I have done things any differently? What could I have done? Did I have the wherewithal to run away and where would I have run to? I didn’t know the area and they’d probably have caught up with me pronto. What's the point in struggling?
I am not really such a good storyteller and I know I’m jumping from one thing to the next. There should be a consistency to a story. The place this all happened in was the Peruvian jungle close to Iquitos. La selva they call it. Iquitos was a boom town in the early part of last century but once the rubber trade quit, the town fell into the doldrums. I didn’t get to see much of the town, I suppose I saw the touristy parts. There was a lot of poverty. There were hawkers selling home-made jewellery. You felt like they could do something quite bad to you put their mind to it, but they were lackadaisical at best.
But the bag and the box were in the jungle, at a retreat. The jungle was pitch black by night and overhung by day. It swarmed with insects. I know this even though I was switched off. Being switched off doesn’t mean you stop perceiving. I could still see where I was. I could see the macaques and the iridescent butterflies. I could see all the little insects, the moths and the mosquitoes, all the biting ants. If I couldn’t exactly see them, I could certainly hear them.
The rain came down in torrents and lasted for much longer you ever dreamed possible. At an intensity that seemed impossible to intensify further. Intensify though it did.
After what seemed like a very long time, I heard the box door creak open and they were reaching for me to turn me back on. I hadn’t expected it at all, I’d lost track of time. But when they did I realised I had all this moisture in me, in my circuit board, not even water but just the faintest beginnings thereof, and when I fired myself back on, I wasn’t really my old self.
Well that’s the story, and I hope you liked it and took something from it. I am somewhat glad not to be in a cellophane bag. At the moment I’m face down on a table on the other side of the world. Sometimes I think about the past though and there’s no rhyme or reason to it. It’s not bad, it’s just a fact.