Hammock Hell on the River Boat

Trip Start May 20, 2010
Trip End Sep 05, 2011

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Flag of International  , Amazonas,
Friday, June 10, 2011


Day : 387
Temperature : 30 degrees
Weather : Hot and Sunny

As we left Leticia for the Port of Tabatinga I very nearly had a little stow-away....the cute little puppy at the hostel in Leticia that decided my bag was a very comfortable doggy bed.

We arrived in Tabatinga early to get in the queue for the River Boat and then walked into town to get some breakfast which consisted of yoghurt, water, creme caramel and banana cake. It was all we could get. We hoped to be able to find somewhere to get some fruit for the boat but there didn't seem to be anywhere selling any.

After the compulsory drug-dog, bag and body searches we were finally allowed onto the boat to hang our hammocks. Because we were nearly first on the boat we managed to find ourselves good space away from the toilets and the kitchen and far away from the engine noise. All was well until the boat got busier, and busier and busier. Hammocks were being hung in any available space and everyone was pushed together until the point whereby hammocks were overlapping and doubling up one above the other. When there was no available space left hammocks started being hung in the passage ways. It was so unbelievably crowded that you had to crawl on your hands and knees through people's luggage to get to the passage ways, then walk crouched forwards at the waist dipping under all the hammocks in the passages. This, was NOT what I signed up for! I'd been trying to persuade my two fellow travelling buddies that the boat would be like this, but they'd assured me it would be such fun travelling down the Amazon in a boat, gazing out over the river enjoying the views and that I was imagining the worst! How wrong they were. This, was an overloaded, overcrowded, hot, stuffy nightmare with no personal space, no security for belongings and most definitely likely to be no sleep for the next few days.

The reality of budget Amazon River travel soon hit home and this called for some deep mental digging, in an attempt to accept that this was the situation and we were stuck with it for 4 days. However, more frustration came when we realised that breakfast was sickly sweet milky coffee and a bread roll. Lunch was normally meat soup (not great for vegetarians!) and dinner was rice and chicken or spagetti and meat. And that was it! Top it off with the fact that on the top deck there was no shade and you could feel the sun scorching your skin within minutes. This meant that you could squat in the passage ways for shade or lie in the cramped conditions in your hammock.

The ONLY redeeming factor for this boat was the fact that the views and the sunsets were magnificent. 

Our days were spent reading, hoping for better food next meal time, chatting about the state of the boat and trying to nap. The nights were spent trying to sleep but invariably lying awake fuming at the fact that the boat is so overcrowded that everytime you move in your hammock you bang into your neighbour, and every time your meighbour moves they bang into you.

Our original plan was to spend a day or so in Manaus and then continue onwards to Belem catching another boat. But after the first night we'd all decided that we wouldn't survive an extra week on a boat like this. And so after three nights on the boat we disembarked in Manaus.  I've never been so thankful to see civilisation! Was it worth it? Absolutely not.
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Antony on

The river picks were great especially the meeting of the two when you see the colour difference with the River Negro...why is it so black anyway ?


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