The boat moves down the river through the thick vegetation. The splashing of caimans can be heard near the shore as birds fly through the treetops. The jungle is dangerous even for those who think they know it.
Two people are in the front and one in the back driving the engine. Their cargo is boxes of medical supplies that must reach Puerto Temblador. An unknown epidemic is affecting the small population that lives on the banks of the river, the resident doctor believes it is a bacterium.
"How long will it take to arrive?" asks Dr. Isabel Arellano, a young doctor who has been sent to help diagnose the disease. But she is afraid of the trip, the loneliness and the darkness of the water make her nervous.
"About three hours," answers Lieutenant Zambrano, "but don't worry, Venancio knows the river like the back of his hand, he is a baquiano as we say here. He has made this trip many times. But he is a man who does not talk much.
Venancio concentrates on his thoughts and on the river where he has spent most of his life. His eyes are observing every bend in the road, his ears are accustomed to the sounds of the jungle and he orients himself by the smells that change with the incessant activity of nature. His animal instinct is more developed than that of the people who accompany him on this journey.
The chattering guacharacas break the silence. They call out to each other, alerting to danger.
"Hold on tight!", Venancio shouts to them as the motorboat's engine turns sharply. Some very thick trunks and branches are stuck in the river and under the surface a huge water snake almost turns the boat over.
Barely recovered from the shock, Dr. Arellano and Lieutenant Zambrano watch the current waiting for the snake to appear.
Venancio tells them "We will have to deviate from the course, there are problems upstream". And without waiting, he directs the boat to a narrower stream.
The landscape where the branches crisscross, blocking the light, makes Dr. Arellano even more nervous. Howler monkeys can be seen and heard.
She turns to Venancio and tells him “He is sure that this is the way to Puerto Temblador?”.
"It will take us a little longer but we will get there was the curt reply". His cold eyes stare at the doctor. A Tarantula has landed on his head and begins to go down his shoulder.
Everything happened very fast, Venancio approaches her to grab the spider but she gets scared and as she stands on the boat she falls into the water. She becomes entangled in the bora plants that cover the surface and begins to flail her arms. She cannot swim. Her cries for help stir up the jungle and the animals respond.
Venancio jumps into the water and manages to pull her out. She can only say thank you and remains silent and wet for the rest of the trip.
They arrive at Puerto Temblador when the last rays of sunlight paint the sky red and the river like a mirror reflects it in its waters. A spectacle that goes unnoticed by most people except for Isabel who, still ashamed, observes the wonderful reception of nature.
The villagers are waiting for them at the dock and help them unload the boxes and take them to the dispensary. The head of the community and the doctor thank them on behalf of everyone for the help received.
Venancio approaches Dr. Arellano and says."You should not feel ashamed, you are a brave woman to come here, far from your world, from your comforts, to help these people, in spite of your fears. I admire you for that and count on me when you need me".
Dr. Arellano watched him leave in his boat and get lost on the waterways.
The next few days go by with the routine of the jungle inhabitants while the medical team does its work. The bacteria has been identified and controlled.
Thank you for reading my participation in The Ink Well Prompt #83.