Without a paddle

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 18, 2011

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Where I stayed
Cabin 6, Eduardo II

Flag of Peru  , Loreto,
Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our home for the next few days would be the Eduardo II. Unfortunately the Eduardo VIII was moored next to us but as it was not leaving for 2 days we got to spend the few hours before we set off with a bad case of boat envy. She was bigger, cleaner, had more toilets and smarter looking cabins. We discussed it with Herman, a 50 something year old Aussie who was doing his 4th amazon boat trip in the past 2 weeks, and decided it would just mean more people on board and we were the lucky ones! He also filled us in on his Ayahuasca experience in Iquitos over the last few days. Ayahuasca is a strong hallucinogenic that the jungle shaman use in their rituals and has now become a thing to do for travellers in the area. We'd been filled in on its effects on our tour in Leticia and it was great to hear that it was all true. Herman’s friend had spent 2 hours filling her pants with the squits and the next few with uncontrolled vomiting. Sounds like great fun.

While standing around waiting for the boat to leave and watching all the loading and unloading one of the crew started chatting to us. He knew we’d booked a cabin but asked if we wanted to have hammocks too at no extra cost. Brilliant! We’d been worried about having nowhere to sit during the day except our little tin box which we expected to turn oven like in the Amazonian sun. So he rented us a couple of good quality hammocks for the trip and we slung them up on the top deck. We did feel bad that the people around us would be sleeping out here and know we were tucked up in our cabin but they were all very friendly. We finally got going only 2 hours later than planned which is apparently a result as sometimes the boats can leave anything up to a day late.

After we’d set off we saw everyone on the top deck around us grab their bowls and head down for food. We grabbed ours and headed after them to join the queue. After a bit of shouting from one of the cooks we learnt that there was no food for us till breakfast, and that those being fed now were booked in a special group. The worst part was that while queuing we had both leaned against a table and soon found ourselves, along with a few other people in the queue, covered in blue paint as the table had been freshly painted and no sign put on it. We spent the next few hours rubbing madly at our arms trying to wear the paint away once it had dried. Great start to 3 days without a shower!

The next morning we weren’t really sure how breakfast would work. I kept an eye out of the window slats for when everyone started heading down and when they did we jumped up and grabbed our bowls. Before we could head down though the captain stopped us and told us we didn’t need to go down and our food would be brought up. Next thing one of the cooks arrives up with 4 plates of food on a tray and hands them over. We were very disappointed as we’d been looking forward to using our bowls Oliver Twist style.

The rest of the day we spent lazing in our hammocks reading and staring at the river. Every now and again we’d pull into a village along the way to load and unload people and stuff and each time a stream of women and kids would come onto the boat selling fruits and snacks. I was a bit worried when we pulled off with them still on board but a few minutes downstream we pulled up to the bank, they all jumped off and started walking back to their village. No time wasted! I was amazed how many little communities there were all the way along, each a little collection of buildings usually centred around a football pitch all right on the banks of the Amazon. At one village a proper game was going on and due to the fact one of the goals backed on to the river, there were loads of little kids in the river ready to retrieve the balls!

The food on the boat was a lot better than expected. From what we’d read we were expecting plain chicken and rice every meal but were impressed that each meal was different. We had spaghetti, potatoes, rice, a bit of chicken, beef or fish and even a tasty sauce. We’d been worried about going hungry so had stocked up on biscuits, nuts etc. but we didn’t need them at all. We did think maybe being in the cabin meant we were being pampered but we were pleased to see that everyone was getting the same stuff. Really impressed.

All in all the whole trip was really relaxing. We chatted(ish) to the people in the hammocks around us, played a bit of scrabble, read and when it got dark watched a couple of movies on the laptop. I was a bit disappointed we didn’t spot any of the river dolphins Herman had told us about but ah well. We were enjoying it so much we were disappointed when we found out we’d made such good time we would be arriving in the morning of the 3rd day rather than the evening . We wondered whether we should have gone to Pucallpa after all for the longer trip but Herm and his friend had done that and said the scenery on this bit was much better as there was a lot of logging on that route. Our Amazon trip was over sooner than expected and I hadn’t even finished my book!
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