Swamps are gross.

This may be something most people are tangentially aware of. “Ooh, bugs.” or “Ick, mud.” or even “Aren’t there snakes?” These are not people who have had to spend the better part of a month living in one. Without shelter. Without a shower. Without so much as a change of clothes.

By the end of the first week I was chafing in places I didn’t know I had. I was praying for a storm, even surrounded by water and trees, just so I could feel marginally cleaner. My skin itched on literally every exposed inch. Whether it was the dirt, the insect bites, or some contact dermatitis from the many, many unrecognizable plants, I could not tell you.

If I’d had a pumice stone I probably would have rubbed ’til I bled.

The second and third weeks are much more of a blur. I was trekking constantly but fed only on a diet of raw snake and whatever berries I could safely identify. Water was only what I could get from dew and rain collecting on leaves. (I’m not sure what would have happened if I’d tried drinking the swamp water, but fortunately my basal instincts were sufficient to ensure that was not an option.) It’s possible something I ate was hallucinogenic, but I think the blur was just a combination of overexhaustion and undernutrition.

So, after three weeks in the swamp, I was starting to forget why I’d entered it in the first place. My compass had kept me on track – due north – for the duration. I’m not sure what would have happened if it had taken a week more than it did.