It was 3:30am and we were in a small boat trying to find the entrance to a tiny creek on a moonless night. Bioluminescence, like a sapphirine path, trailed behind us, but ahead of us only a wall of black, the occasional spark of lightning revealing a row of jagged pinnacles. Creek found, we left the boat and waded through the mangrove swamp in single file. Somebody mentioned pythons. Back on land, in cloying mud, a man at the head of the line hacked his way through the rainforest with a machete. Huge flying beetles aimed for the beam of my headtorch and smacked me in the face. That same beam found giant spider webs and, in their middle, giant spiders. It was 30 degrees, with 95 per cent humidity, and I was as wet as if I’d had a bath fully clothed.
An Indonesian adventure in the wake of Alfred Russel Wallace
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