Emeryville Amy

This blog will be a combination of my favorite places in the Bay Area and abroad, memoirs, recipes, restaurant reviews and travel experiences.

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Location: Emeryville, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

4 Wheeling in Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation

Laurel and I wanted a little more adventure in the rain forest so we signed up for a 4WD excursion. At 7:00 am the morning after our night walk, Jenny drove up in a 4WD jeep. Jenny was our guide for the day. She was just over 5 feet tall and probably less than 100 pounds with pigtails but she was one tough cookie. We drove about 30 minutes to pick up the other 4 passengers and then headed up the road to where Laurel and I had stopped to hike to the swimming hole the day before. We forded the river and continued on the unpaved road.

As we bumped along, she informed us that the road was amazingly smooth because they had just graded it 2 weeks before. It only was graded (smoothed out) once or twice a year. I thought it was still a bit bumpy, but I am a city girl. She drove up 2 incredibly steep hills while adjusting the gears to the super-low setting. It was a 1 in 3 grade which translates to a 33% incline/decline. Many people wipe out because they don't know how to drive their 4WD correctly. She sees wrecks 3 or 4 times a week and this is not a heavily travelled road.

Jenny stopped so that we could get out and walk into the rain forest a bit. She told us tons of things about the trees and foliage. She was a wealth of information and kept up an interesting and informative and funny narrative for most of the day. We crested one hill and the scenery changed to what I had imagined Australia to look like. It was dry and sunburnt in color and there were lots of Eucalyptus trees around. We got out and took pictures of the landscape.

After driving for a awhile longer we stopped at Wajul Wajul which is an Aboriginie community of about 500 people. Jenny is friends with a lot of people in this community. She arranged for us to meet three of the women and have them take us to their sacred waterfall. They were interesting to listen to. They shared about the area and the healing property of many of the plants. Jenny had already told us a bit of their history and of the aboriginie culture. Drinking is a big problem in the communities and this one decided to be completely dry. There was a big sign on the road as we entered the town. It said that if you brought any alcohol in there would be a $7500.00 fine, imprisonment and your car would be impounded. Pretty intense. But, it seems to be working well for them. Jenny said that she had a really bad headache one time that she was there and they healed her. The remedy was to take a nest of green ants, break it in half and rub it into her hair. The other ants were mashed in their hands and held up to her nose for her to inhale their scent. She wasn't entirely comfortable with the process ( I would have freaked to have had ants on my head...,) but she said that in about 10 minutes her headache was completely gone and didn't return. She also said that she picked ants out of her hair for a few days.

Jenny had lots of stories about rescuing people that were truly in need and not just due to their own stupidity. If they rented a car that they didn't know how to drive properly she wouldn't bother to stop but she would call for help for them. She told one story about getting out at a river crossing to decide if the water was too high to cross. There were 5 German tourists in her car and she had just finished telling them that the crocodiles in the area seemed to particularly like Germans for some reason. She stepped out into the river and the current swept her up and hurled her downstream. She bashed into a bunch or rocks before pulling herself out. She walked back to the jeep all bloody and told her passengers that that happened all the time- no worries but that they would not be able to cross the river that day. Not one of them had gotten out of the car to see if she was okay and had just watched her get swept downstream. Maybe they were afraid of the crocs...

We stopped for tea at a swimming hole and enjoyed the cool water. I didn't feel like getting all wet but a couple of the guys went in for a swim. Jenny told us a lot about living in Cape Trib. They don't have any electricity provided for them. Everyone has to create their own from generators, solar panels and some other system that I can't remember exactly. She said that prices were higher here for everything because of that. it costs them 20 times more for energy that down in Cairns. I think she also said that they have to provide their own water too.. Electricity could have been provided there but the council decided that in order to prevent a greedy developer from turning the rain forest into a bunch of condos they would discourage the people who had bought the land parcels from developing by not providing power.

Our last stop was at a mangrove beach. It was low tide and the exposed beach was immense. Here and there were mangroves trying to take root in the sand. I thought the beach was absolutely breathtaking. If it the sun hadn't been so brutally bright or if I had some good shade, I could have stayed there for ages.

After the tour was over, Laurel and I both agreed that Jenny was our new hero. She knew how to drive and fix 4WD's, ford rivers, befriend all kinds of people including her aborigine friends, speak several languages, create her own electricity, give amazing discourse on the rain forest and surrounding area and probably could wrestle a crocodile if the situation arose.