Down the Amazon

Trip Start May 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 30, 2006

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Flag of Peru  ,
Sunday, May 14, 2006

When I woke up the next moring I had a bit of a stomach ache. It wasn't terrible, but the thought crossed my mind about staying in Tarapoto for another day instead of risking traveling with it. In the end I decided to just go for it.

I had another shared taxi to catch, I jumped in a mototaxi, which is just like a tuk tuk or auto rickshaw, and headed to the taxi departure point. I was mobbed when I arrived and agreed to go with one particular company that only needed one more person before they'd leave. Thankfully they were a bit more civilised as well, and only had one person in the front seat. The 4th required person took their time in coming. In fact an hour later I was still sitting there with my growling stomach.

Someone turned up with some luggage that they wanted to take to Yurimagus even though they didn't want to go themselves. They paid for a half fare, and the three of us shared the cost of another half fare and we were off. This turned out to be a real blessing because I started feeling pretty ill in the back of the car as we twisted and turned through some amazing mountain roads. With no one directly beside me I felt much more comfortable.

We arrived and since I was really green round the gills I agreed to be ripped off by a mototaxi driver to take me to the docks, so long as he stopped by a chemist to allow me to buy some electrolyte for the boat trip. I was then mobbed at the docks by representatives of all the boats. I saw an Eduardo boat which had been recomended to me so I decided to take that one. This didn't stop the touts following me around, trying to 'help' me in order to get my business, "Let me carry your water", "Let me show you this hammock", "Let me carry your bag" - yeah right.

I managed to buy everything that I needed and got on the boat. At this point I was only reduced to one tout, the Eduardo tout who rather nicely helped me to put up my hammock, and he didn't want any money for doing it either! I was so glad to arrive that I immediately climbed into the hammock and fell asleep. As suspected, my stomach wasn't right and it caused me to visit the toilet more times that I'd have liked to. I also ended up sleeping for most of the afternoon and then through the night.

I was aware that more people had arrived on the ship, but I didn't care, I just wanted to sleep. I eventually woke at 6am after 17 hours on the hammock, that must be a record even by my hammock loving standards, I obviously wasn't well.

At least I could start eating food again and start talking to the others that had got on board. It turned out that we didn't leave the dock until 6pm, which was about 4 hours after I'd arrived. I still felt a bit tired and fairly stiff from being ill but at least I wasn't expected to do anything all day.

I was able to just enjoy the scenery as it floated past, even though I wasn't on the Amazon itself the river was still extremely wide, with another 3000Km before this water would end up in the Atlantic, I can't comprehend how wide the Amazon must get by the time it finishes its journey.

The food on the boat was pretty good and the company was nice, I'd paid extra money to travel on the top level of the boat where my possesions would be a little safer. There were only 6 of us in this section of the boat, four of them were Peruvian and the other one was French and was married to one of the Peruvians. There wasn't much to do and one of the real highlights was dinner time!

After such a hard day everyone was in their hammocks by 9pm heading to the land of nod. One of my pet hates with regards to the Peruvians is that they have no respect for people sleeping. Once they're awake, they don't care about anyone else. I was woken at 6am the next morning by a loud radio being played and a couple of peruvians having a loud joke and a laugh. It's not just on this boat that I've found this, but all over the country. I'm surprised that more of them don't go around their daily routine feeling tired and grumpy.

We arrived a couple of hours late after about 40 hours on the boat. All the dockside space was full and our boat had a hard time trying to dock, it had to ease its way in, actually pushing some of the other boats out of the way in the process. It wasn't pretty to watch but they managed to dock the thing in the end. Iquitos here I come.
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