Meeting Viking Princesses in the Peruvian Amazon

January 20, 2011 6 Comments

Modern times had turned Viking princesses soft, but I didn’t know this as we approached them in the dim, cool light before dawn. Weighed down by our backpacks and bleary eyed from the hour, we forced cheery smiles to display Americans’ best trait: superficial, but sincere friendliness. “Sweet,” I thought to myself, “blondes, they’ll need shampoo and showers when I do.” There’s nothing worse than camping with brunettes whose hair will look even better the second day without showers. We were camping but not on your average REI stocked trip to the backyard. We were journeying through the Amazon for a five night trek.

Watercolor by Kate Rose Johnson

“Frick!” I exclaimed in my head as we got closer, “Viking Frickin’ Princesses!” They were almost 10 feet tall, statuesque and brave looking standing by their Swedish boyfriends. I felt like a toy poodle with my Newfoundland puppy G next to them.  We threw our gear on top of the van and piled in for eight hours of harrowing, cliff hugging, one lane roads as we descended from the mountains of Peru into the Amazon below. The princesses peacefully slumbered for most of the journey. My eyes were wide open and terrified and one look at G told me that I wasn’t alone. He was sitting above the back wheel of the van with a window looking directly down 4,000 or so feet to the valley below. I was grateful to be on the inside without a view. All I could do was imitate the Vikings and stoically close my eyes and doze on my prince’s shoulder.

Once we arrived in the jungle I was suddenly not afraid of it. I figured the worst that could happen there was nowhere near as bad as tumbling thousands of feet off a cliff in a Toyota minivan. I pranced behind our native macheted guide and gleefully ate the termites he offered us once the princesses had turned up their noses in disgust. HA! I felt tougher than their cool veneer showed.  But they maintained their cool when the guide lost us and the trail for a half hour and didn’t complain about the bug bites on their marble skin. They democratically alternated the lead while on our wildlife tours. They slept outside on platforms without tents hours from our cabins, awake throughout the nights watching for tapirs. I was in awe of their genetic disposition for bravery and lack of fear. I didn’t want to have any fear standing in the way of my adventure, but there it was. I wondered if, as they went for their midnight bathroom break in the foliage below the platform, they thought a jaguar was waiting to pounce on them as well.

I expected them to start painting their faces and slaying wild boar, but it never happened. Instead there was G, shirtless and up to his waist in a river catching some dogfish with little more than a hook and string and there I was eating bugs and bathing in the same river. On the last day, signs of fatigue crept in and as we were packing up they sighed and admitted to me how difficult the trip had been. They had been nervous and scared to come, and were terrified about the trip back on the road we’d come to know was considered the “second” most dangerous road in the world.

I was elated, ecstatic to learn the inner fears of these stone cold princesses. They were afraid but brave, too, like me. Curious and adventurous, maybe our genetic makeup wasn’t that different after all. As we hit the first mile of cliff hugging adrenaline with the green of the Amazon fading in the rearview mirror, I put on my headphones and smiled, relaxing as they gripped their seats in front of me.

Tags: , , , , , , , Stories
6 Comments to “Meeting Viking Princesses in the Peruvian Amazon”
  1. Carey Arnold says:

    I’m hooked! I can’t wait to read the continuing saga. If you run out of stories, you and G gotta hit the road! And Kate sets up the visualization fabulously!! Thank you!

  2. Mary Clare says:

    My favorite illustration thus far!! Great story about your Amazon adventure…did you really eat termites?

  3. Franco says:

    Dear Fraidypants Princess,
    I noticed that Fraidypants Princess wears a ponytail most of the time. Does a bobbing ponytail help Fraidypants Princess with her balance on the trail or is there some other reason for the ever present P-tail?

    Can you recommend a good “green” shampoo for hiking/travel?

  4. Fraidypants Princess says:

    Dr. Bronner’s for camping. Actually we got these great thin leaves of soap for our adventuring which come in handy for avoiding plane security headaches. Something like this:

  5. Franco says:

    Dear Fraidypants Princess,
    Do you have any high-speed chase stories or aggressive driving stories for us adrenaline junkies?

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