Amazon River: Iquitos, Peru to Leticia, Colombia

Leticia is the Colombian border town that mirrors Peru´s Iquitos. Cept it´s much nicer. Notably as there less of a sex trade than Iquitos, which could give Phuket a run for it´s money in the seedieness stakes. Again, plane or river are pretty much the only way in or out of Leticia, so it´s still very much gateway to Colombia proper. I don´t really feel like i´m quite in the land of cocaine and kidnapping just yet. The climate and vibe is much more like a tropical island. Yes, I´m gradually edging one step closer to the Caribean.

The change of currency messes with your head slightly if you, like me, have the division skills of a 7 year old. Too many zeros hurt my brain. $10 is 20,000 COP (I´m aware i´m not American, there just isn´t a pound sign on this keyboard.) Anyway, it´s a cute town to wait a night for a flight, but not for much else. Therefore there is nothing much exciting to report, namely because after yesterday I am NEVER speaking to new people again. Well, for a day at least.

So far I have restrained from relaying some of the truly painful conversations I have had with people. I would litch be here all day. But as i’ve nothing else to report and this pushed me over the edge, here are a couple of snippets.

I should pre-empt this by saying I have met some amazing people in my 8 weeks so far. They mostly fall into the following categories:

´Border friends´- People you meet in planes, boats, trains and misc transit. Sometimes they are nice but they serve a purpose i.e split taxi fares. They are for small talk and purely practical. You can completely bin them off afterwards. They know the score.

´Puppies´ – They follow you around all lost, waiting for you to come up with a plan and are major keenos. You have to fake destination them to get rid, or make up elaborate lies to spare their feelings and disappear in the night.

´Peops you´d defo go for a drink with´- these are good, qwerky, or interesting. You like them, you share funny stories, they are good company for a night out.

´Keepers´- As in you´d be real life friends, or often they remind you of your real life friends. They are harder to find but amazing to travel with when you do, you wake up after a week or so realising you´ve spent every waking minute together and you are still laughing. You are in mourning and wear black for the day when they are gone.

Then there are the frickin nightmares.

So. I gets on the 12 hour ´fast´boat at 5am. The ´slow´ boat is a hammock in a cargo ship. Sounds romantic, but it takes 3 days. Snooze.

It´s already crowded and I sit next to the nearest normal looking gringo. Travel 101. In a slight aside, I also need to vent about the crazily loud bible basher and his god squad mate that were sat behind me. American. Course they were. So multiply the word ´loud´by ten. They tried to handout leaflets on how to be mormans. Tragically, they weren´t even my biggest problem.

Back to gringo boy. He opens quite normally. His name is Paul, he´s Canadian, he started in Ecuador and is heading to Brazil, yada yada. All was good for 10 mins. He lured me into a false sense of security where I didn´t even have a chance to get out my ´don´t dare talk to me´ earphones. Then he dropped this gem:

Me: So what do you do…

Him: Oh im only 21 (strike 1) I´m still studying.

Me: Whatcha studying? (this is a good test to spot the international rah gap ýars. They are sometimes in disguise and the accents throw you.) All are still obsessed which which Uni they went to though and still do rah courses like Law, Architecture :) Medicine etc.)

Him: Evolutionary sciences, majoring in Herpetology and Etomology.

Me: Huh? (turns out it´s lizards and bugs and stuff). Me, once he´d explained: That sounds interesting (lolling in my head at my own fakeness)….I saw lots of things in the jungle yesterday like this really cute frog….

Him: (Cuts me off.) It wasn´t a frog.

Me: Oh (confused) I´m pretty sure it was.

Him: It would have been a toad. Do you know the difference between a frog and a toad? (Not stopping for an answer) Well…..They he proceeded to tell me in excruciating mind numbing detail.

This is at least ONE hour of my life that I won´t get back people! I kid you not.

He then decided to tell me (Er, didn´t ask) about ALL of the Amazon animals, birds, insects – and that´s rather a lot, until I finally snapped and grabbed my laptop. You might be thinking that given I was in the jungle, it might be nice to learn from such a scholar. You know, in case I wanted to win a pub quiz, but GOD he was a patronizing snooze.

The next two hours were made bearable by watching Fight Club. Brad at his best (by which I mean fittest.) He worked on his research paper whist I did this. Then it started again.

(We get given food on the boat….)

Me: Grr, there is no veggie option. I can´t really eat this beef/rice meal they have given us. Do you want it?

Him: I’m a veggie too.

Me: Oh ok, i´ll give it back then. No worries.

Him: Hang on. We shouldn´t waste it. (Get ready for this…)

“I am more of what you call a ´flexitarian.´??!!”

Me: WTF is that then?

Him: I only eat meat when it´s been sustainably/organically/locally/ethically sourced. Or if there is nothing else, or if I order it accidentally in a restaurant(!?) I don´t agree with Peru´s treatment of livestock or sustainable fish farming. I think it´s obismal that they don´t eat more vegetables and fruit.

Me: Firstly: You are not a veggie then, and ´Flex-a-whatever´is not a word. Second, It´s quite a poor country, maybe they have other things to worry about rather than popping to a deli for organic humus and blueberries, like we do?

(Luckily, before I chin him, a guy come round giving us a drink too….)

Him: Oh no (Looks like he´s going to cry.) It´s cola cola.

Me: (In my head) FFS! I know what´s coming.

Him: I only drink natural juices back at home, never fizzy drinks. I only go to independent supermarkets too. Coca cola are the epitome of evil blah blah blah…….

There are no words. I spent the rest of my 12 hour journey with my head out of the window so the river spray and boat engine drownded out his voice. If I could have hurled myself out of there I would have done.

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Connecting to %s : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

Blasts From The Past…

June 2011

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