Jungle Hunt for Rafflesia
Trip Start Nov 08, 2006
209Trip End Ongoing
Upon our return to the village, we were dripping with sweat, covered in dirt, caked with mud from the knees down, and - best of all - infested with leeches. This is obviously a regular occurrence because our guide's response to our reaction of horror was - "Oh, if I had known you didn't want leeches, I would have told you not to go." Who wants leeches? But it actually wasn't so bad. I was afraid pulling them off would hurt, but it was really no biggie. I had 3 of them. Dane had 1, but his was massively engorged. The crazy thing is to see how they change in size. They start out so tiny, only about the width of angel-hair pasta, but after sucking on us for a while, they were about the size of a thumb nail. Crazy! Our guide said they wouldn't have to feed again for another 6 months. So glad I could help. The other weird thing is how long we continued to bleed afterward. The wound was only a tiny little red dot, but it oozed blood for hours because the leeches inject the site with an anti-coagulant to help ease the flow of blood. It works.
Two days later, and my leech wounds have healed, but my hiking boots have yet to dry out. I expect they'll never quite be the same again, but they did keep me from falling off the face of a soggy mountain, so I'm content.
After we re-emerged from the jungle, our guide took us to a local villager's house to sample Kopi Luwak, a rare and exotic coffee produced in Sumatra and exported around the world. Kopi Luwak translates to "Civet Coffee." The coffee beans are collected from the droppings of the wild civet cat wandering the jungle. Yes, I mean it's poo. Apparently, some digestive enzymes it possesses adds to the flavor of the coffee. I couldn't really taste anything special, but it is considered gourmet and is the most expensive coffee in the world, and rightfully so considering the effort they have to go through to collect and process the beans. We got a great deal on our cup, but it wasn't something I wanted to stock up on.
So there you have it. Leeches and poo coffee.
Here's an HD video of our guide killing Dane's leech. (We didn't want to kill it, but we were already back in the village and couldn't just let it lose on the lady's porch.)