Jungle Telegraph

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Around 9am every morning, a tractor towing a cart with a bench takes workers who have finished doing stuff with boats up the steep hill to the staff quarters at the back of the hotel for breakfast. I would lose about 5lbs a week, get lithe and trim, and see an incredible amount of birds if I made the effort to walk up every day, but I don’t want to. I reckon it’s fairly good exercise just walking down, so I hitch a ride. I’ve got a desk inside the manager’s office, loud with the sound of cicadas, radio communications and, usually between 10.30 and 11am, passing howler monkeys. I am, inevitably, on good terms with the bar staff across the way, so there’s some good chat, and after midday, the guides come in after their tours. Sometimes in the afternoon there is the sound of splashing and larking about from the pool which, as I sit sweating over the keyboard, pondering Guest Information, can be distracting. When it’s all too much, I head down to the forest pool with a book.

The telephone which used to connect us to the next bunch of people up the coast doesn’t work, and there is no mobile coverage, but there is a weak, and intermittent internet connection. Sometimes. When people get a whiff of that, they are pretty keen to use it. I’m aware that sitting at my desk in t-shirt and shorts firing off (hotel-related) emails to the San Jose HQ and researching a new secret squirrel project on my very own laptop, I must look like an internet-hogging guest. I feel the evil eye. Sometimes I’ve stepped away and come back to find someone using it, and been told I can come back in 30 minutes. I now wear the uniform shirt in the office by way of apology, explanation and protection.

There actually is a mobile signal over the hill and far away, along one of the trails to the farm at the back of the property. I’m considering the Big Hike – there’s nothing worse than getting voicemail – when Fanny, who lives out that way comes by. She’s brought me a bag of lemons and oranges, and is cooing over some picture on her cell phone. Turns out to be a big snake she just spotted, a fer-de-lance actually, which is in some ways the Scottish play of the rainforest world, i.e. an unmentionable. ‘Ah’ she says fondly. ‘A mi, me encantan’. I love them. Right. Well, I don’t. I decide my call can wait until tomorrow. Song of the day: Robert Johnson, Me and the Devil Blues.

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