Record Hunters blog, Day 7

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For Sam Eifling's serialized account of his "Record Hunters" adventure, click here.

Day 7, posted Nov. 24, 2006

It's the midpoint in our journey up the Amazon, up the Rio Negro and to the Unini — a place none of us ever dreamed we would be a year ago.

When you are in the jungle a million miles away from home, the halfway point is a milestone. It's hard to convey the experience of spending 24 hours a day with a group of people to whom you are not related. We are starting to fall into a rhythm that includes a heavy dose of sarcasm, followed by commiseration over the heat, followed by conversations about American food, followed by sarcasm.

Among our party is a writer for the New Times Broward-Palm Beach, a weekly publication in south Florida that reads more like a magazine than a newspaper. Sam Eifling is our resident scribe brought along for a novice angler's point of view, commissioned to document the experience from the standpoint of a normal guy who doesn't live his life based around fishing or water or boats.

Sam has won some hotsy-totsy journalism awards by writing about such things as the Hotdog Eating Contest in Coney Island. He's been around the inkblot block and even logged some time in outdoor writing for ESPN's Great Outdoor Games.

I knew he was in trouble on our first day in Brazil when it came to our attention that he had only brought one pair of shoes — handsome brown leather Diesels.

The rest of the crew smirked about that one until after a few days of wading in the creeks of the Unini; they began to take on a pungency only river water on leather can produce.

He was ultimately reduced to having to stow the offending brogans in the bow of the boat on account of they smelled to high heaven.

One morning somewhere along the midpoint of the trip Sam's bunkmate, Marty had to make a life choice regarding those shoes. We were all taking anti- malaria pills daily to ward off the serious disease. As Marty sat on his top bunk rifling through his pill bottle, he accidentally dropped his daily pill and it fell into one of Sam's stinky shoes on the floor below him.

The anti-malaria pills are only given in exact doses and came with stern warnings by doctors' to take every capsule as prescribed. Marty had to weigh the risks of not taking the pill and risking malaria or putting his had down in Sam's shoe to retrieve the errant pill.

I think drinking water from a ditch in Calcutta might have offered a better option for Marty, but he finally chose to stomach the odor for the sake of his stomach and any other symptom of the dread disease.

Sam was a good sport on this trip. He withstood the constant ribbing and occasional ridicule from the seasoned anglers and the well-versed camera crew.

I'm using the term "ribbing" loosely. Sam was picked on incessantly but he took it all as good humor.

On this particular day Rob & Joe decided to put Sam to the test. They had seen him in the evenings throwing off the houseboat in an attempt to become more adept at casting. That, of course, had roused the boys into more hazing, but they had also spent some time with him on the finer points of lobbing a bait caster.

I think they sensed that Sam really deserved a chance to sample the waters himself after watching them fish from the camera boat for a week.

Sam passed the test with his characteristic unpretentiousness. And even though Rob and Joe had some fun on camera at his expense, at the end of the day it was obvious the two veteran anglers were happy for the novice that he came home with his won stories of the heart stopping thump when a peacock bass hits a lure.

Sam was the clearly the best communicator in the group when it comes to the written word.

His account of the trip will be serialized here for the next few weeks. So I'm going to turn the blog over to him for a while so you can get another bird's eye view of this journey that, although it was only a few weeks, seemed like an epic to us.

For more information, email info@recordhunters.com.