This morning, we visited the helicopter squad. After taking a ride in the helicopters, we broke for lunch, eating with the officers in front of a beautiful view of the Amazon.
In the afternoon, we spent time with the marines who told about their work in the country. We also saw a display from their sniffer dogs who are trained to carry out drug detection.
The Marine orchestra then put on a concert for us where they played lots of popular tunes – included Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’!
Today we were taken to a world-class training centre that prepares soldiers for jungle warfare. Here, we learnt about the extensively training that self-called ‘jungle warriors’ undertake. The commander explained how physically intense the course is in order to help the soldiers prepare for the dangerous climate they are thrown into. Only a few soldiers manage to finish the course, which is deemed as one of the hardest training courses in the Brazilian military. We learnt that in every battalion on the Amazon in Brazil, there is a ‘jungle warrior’ who teaches the skills he has learnt to his comrades.
After this visit, the unit invited us to try different jungle fruits found in the Amazon. We tried cocoa seeds, bacuri and carambola. We ate live worms, which tasted like coconut, that are safe to use as a source of food if you get lost in the jungle. They also taught us the different techniques they use to assess whether fruits found in the jungle are poisonous. This was a quite peculiar experience as we encountered new tastes and began to understand the difficulty of surviving in the jungle.