Friday, July 12, 2013

Near Death on the Amazon: Part 1, Leticia

(I would like to alleviate the fears of my mother and to assure my blog readers everything did work out well.)
The bow of the boat
 We left the village at 6 in the morning to buy supplies. It helps to leave early as the sun is not yet that intense and the wind tends to be less strong (therefore less powerful waves) earlier in the day. Most of the stores at which we supply open early in the morning and close at noon for a 2 hour lunch. I am not sure why a two hour lunch is needed or what everyone does, but it is the custom in the city of Leticia. Gustavo, an experienced river and jungle guide like to leave the city at noon to return to the village well before sunset. To navigate at night without lights is very hazardous.

Gustavo was at the helm of the boat and his 9 year old son Hector at the bow. The brisk morning air and wind was chilling to the boy, who had placed his arms inside his t-shirt where they remained for the majority of the 90 minute trip downriver. Gustavo was constantly on the lookout for floating sticks, logs, and the occasional tree trunk which was also, slowly, making its way downstream.

We arrived in the port city of Leticia a little after 7:30. Over 100 small and midsized boats are docked at floating barges or on the shore. Many others arrive or depart with a rhythm that reminds me of working honey bees. After docking and securing our craft we spend the next 5 hours buying things for the kitchen construction which is scheduled to begin the following day. Slightly after noon we found a good deal on a 4 burner stove. We spent the next two hours getting the associated propane tank, connections, hoses, and more cookware. While we knew we would leave later than usual, the sun was strong, winds clam, and only a few soft, pillow-like clouds were in the intensely blue sky.

At a little after 2 pm we left Leticia to travel back to the village. Our arrival time would be around 5 pm, well before nightfall. It would be an easy trip, we thought….

Click to read the next part -Near Death on the Amazon, Part 2: The Propeller.
Monkey with dog.  Not directly related to the story, but very cute.

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