Rapidito to Iquitos

Trip Start Nov 10, 2007
Trip End Nov 15, 2009

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My next stop would be Iquitos, Peru and, as there are no roads, the way to get there is by river.  You can take a slow boat which takes several days, but since I had a schedule to keep to I took the fast boat which takes 11 hours.  Or, is supposed to anyway.  The afternoon before I left I went to the airport for my exit stamp from Columbia as the trip leaves at 4 am.  I set my alarm for 3 am (!) and my taxi driver picked me up at 3:45 to take me to the pier in Tabatinga, Brazil.  The border between Columbia and Brazil is open here and Leticia and Tabatinga are essentially one city so no stamp in my passport...but all of a sudden everything is in Portuguese!  Anyway, at the pier I boarded a funky little rowboat with motor which took me across the pitch black river to the island of Santa Rosa where we passed through Peruvian immigration and boarded the Rapidito.  The boat is about 60 feet long and has comfortable reclining seats...more comfortable if you are a small boned indigenous person, but no worse than most of the buses.  The trip was pretty uneventful.  We made several stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers but after the first 4 hours there were no more stops...just jungle and the occasional tiny community or isolated farm. Our first stop, where we picked up quite a few passengers, was Caballococha.  It seemed as though the whole town was on shore to greet us!  Next to our boat was a canoe full of fish.  A young man was filling a cooler and another young man was handing fish to a woman to put into a plastic bags. People are totally used to life on the water and stand  up and walk in these rickety, barely above water canoes as if it is nothing.  Life jackets, you ask?  HA!  
We were served a breakfast sandwich and coffee.  Later came a lunch that consisted primarily of rice but also included a slice of potato and an unfamiliar piece of meat.  It was white and pick and black.  Black?  And what was the bright pink?  I tried a bit and it wasn't bad.  Upon turning it over I guessed from the shape that it was pigs feet, but I really don't know for sure.

We passed by several individual farms as well as small villages.  One town even had electrical lines strung up...I imagine powered by a generator...and a few cows.  Mostly we passed by jungle and more jungle.  The river was up to several miles wide although there were many islands which we hugged.  Downstream it gets even wider and it's sometimes hard to see the banks from to boats that go to Manaus, Brazil.  I was heading upstream where it's narrower...but it's all relative!
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