Published: July 23rd 2008July 19th 2008
OK now for the Amazon boat trip!! :o) .....
Got picked up from the hostel at 8am by the guy who sold me the ticket and walked to the harbour! Luckily he carried my rucksack (which now had an extra 5 books in it!) and my hammock otherwise i would have really struggled esp as I was also carrying 4 litres of water! It was soooo hot and i was practically jogging to keep up with him! He said the walk was only 5 mins but that was a big fat lie, it was definately half an hour! Well it felt like it anyway! hehe! :o) When we got to the harbour I started walking to the bigger looking ships and the guy was like no no its this way.... and led me to a tiny little speed boat, we got in (I nearly fell overboard) and so did the guy who owned the boat! I was like great ive paid quite a lot of money just to be abducted but it was OK apparantly you just need to get a little boat to get to the big boat! :o) The guy came on to the boat with
me and hung my hammock up for me and then left!! I got in my hammock and started reading my book and looking out for anyone who looked like they might be a traveller! The hammock was actually mega compfy and i was really excited about the trip! A guy who worked on the ship, think he was the cook, came along to speak to me and then wouldnt leave even though we couldnt understand eachother, he seemed to be happy just staring and smiling at me! Everytime he left i was like oh thank god hes gone and would start reading my book again but 2 minutes later his head would appear next to my hammock again, i knew it was going to be a loooong week!! :o) The boat was full by 11am and the cook told me we were leaving at 1pm, I asked him if he had seen any travellers on the boat and he said no there werent any on this boat but he´d been on the boat next to ours which was also going to Tabatinga and there were 4 English people on that boat! Typical! The thought of not being able to communicate
with anyone for a week was horrible! I was about to be a baby and start crying but then i decided to pull myself together and do something about it so i went and tried asking the people in my best Portuguese (and hand gestures! hehe!) if i could switch boats! They said no so i just stood there and kept asking until they got fed up of me and said yes! Then someone led me downstairs to the bottom of the ship where all the cargo was stored and told me to sit down and wait there! I did..... for an hour! By then i nearly was crying because i wasnt getting on the other boat and had now lost my good hammock spot and was worried i was going to be transported as cargo to Tabatinga! hehe! :o) Finally a guy came along and told me to get off the boat and started telling me (although it took me ages to understand) that i needed to go back to mainland and change my ticket (i thought the boats were both from the same company but apparantly not!) - i had no idea where to get on one of
those little boats, where the ticket office was once i got there and how to get back even if i managed to change my ticket! I was on the verge of finding a little boat thing and going back to the hostel to shout at them (they could speak English) for selling me a ticket with the promise that there would be other travellers on the boat! But then a guy came along in the boat, looked at my ticket, pointed to the 20% bit at the bottom (which i couldnt read!) and gave me 200reals back instead of the 250 id paid for the ticket! Apparantly that was the 20% bit at the bottom which i couldnt understand! :o( Then he told me to go and buy a ticket on the other boat!!
I was annoyed that id lost 50reals but thought well its only 15pounds and if it means ill have a fun week with English people then its worth it! There was a guy standing next to the boat and i asked if i had to buy my ticket on board, he said yes, helped me with my bags and we walked on to the boat
(which was actually a thin wobbley bit of wood that went from the harbour to the first deck of the boat, honestly thought i was going to fall off and into the sea, not that i would have been suprised the way things were going!)! I paid for my ticket which was 230 so i actually only lost 30reals and then saw a guy had a list of passengers and so I asked him about the English people, he laughed and said no no just Brazilians and a few Peruvians!! I couldnt believe it and had to try really hard not to cry and run back to the other boat (which was nicer!!) but i knew it was too late and i was too embarrased to go crawling back after the scene id made! The guy who brought my bags on to the boat, helped me put up my hammock, i thanked him and got out my book, after a while i realised he was still standing there and i was like oh for goodness sake another one who likes to stare - go away! It turns out i had to pay him 10 reals for putting up my hammock!
I was so angry but didnt know how to say "oi mister you didnt tell me it was going to cost anything for you to help me with my bags, there was no verbal agreement so get lost" in Portuguese so i just threw the money at him and decided it was definately time to have a frustated cry.... so i did! :o) The whole thing was just soo much effort, so frustrating but i was pleased with myself for showing initiative and changing boats and then it was all for nothing and i lost money!! Then someone knocked over one of my 2 litre bottles of water which ofcourse managed to roll straight under the railings and off the ship into the sea!! Really wasnt having a lucky day hehe! But luckily the water on the boat turned out to be OK so it didnt matter in the end! I spent a while trying to decide whether to stay on the boat or just give up and get a flight to Colombia but in the end i decided to stick it out and im glad i did because it was a really amazing experience!!
The boat left 2
hours late (at 6pm) and we had literally not gotten further than 100metres before we got stopped by the marine police! No joke! I honestly thought we were never going to get there!! The police climbed on the boat and looked around (not really sure what they were doing and couldnt ask anyone) and then left!
Everyone on the boat was really nice although noone could speak English so we couldnt really speak more than a few sentences! My hammock was really comfy and i was quite happy reading my book.... and was really glad id raided the hostels book shelf and taken 5 because i realised i was definately going to need them as i was going to be a loner for the week! :o) The food was actually OK, it was a bit repetitive.... always rice, pasta (no sauce) with beans in a sauce (they eat that all the time over here!) and then with chicken, pork or fish! There was a room with 2 tables in which seated about 12 people and you had to line up and then people went in in shifts after the group before had gone and the table had been cleared!
Although quite a lot of people brought their own bowls and cups and went downstairs to get their own and then ate in their hammocks or whereever! On the first night i didnt really know what was going on so went downstairs and saw that the guy infront of me had asked for something different which was some kind of meat in a can and then fried - it looked gross! We all had that a few times later on in the week and unfortunately i recognized it and knew it had come out of a tin! yuk... it tasted a bit like dog food! :o(
There were 6 toilets on the boat, 3 for men and 3 for woman! I, ofcourse, went in the mens the first day before i realised ... oops! :o) The showers were in the same little cubicle as the toilets which meant that the toilet was always soaked when people didnt put the lid down! Toilet paper was always a bit hit and miss.... there was always some in the morning but rarely in the evening and eventually i cottoned on to the trend and stole some in the morning for later! :o)
Id read somewhere that the shower water was taken straight from the Amazon river, into which the toilet waste is pumped, so there was no point in showering as you would only end up dirtier so i was planning on not showering for the week! But i noticed that everyone seemed to be showering quite a few times a day so i thought it cant be that bad! And actually it was fine, the water was freezing and the shower was built for midgets so had to crouch down, but apart from that it was fine! And it was always soooo hot during the day that it was quite nice to have a cold shower! :o) Then in between the two sets of toilets was a mirror and 4 sinks! The water coming out the taps, however, had a definate brown tinge but i tried not to think about it when cleaning my teeth! :o) When i saw the sinks late at night on the first night though i really wasnt sure if i was going to be able to hack the whole boat thing.... i have never seen so many HUGE and gross insects in all my life! They
were all over the sinks and walls surrounding the sink, i nearly contemplating just cleaning my teeth with chewing gum but in the end i just chose the sink with the least scary insekts on it and have never brushed my teeth so quick in my life! hehe! But actually it wasnt as bad the other evenings! phew! :o)
On the top deck there was a bar/shop and a bit open area so i spent quite a lot of time up there reading and trying to get a tan!! :o) On the second day i got very excited as i saw a dolphin! Well actually the Amazon is so dirty that you cant really see anything but i saw its fin sticking out of the water every now and then! Some old man was sat with me at the time and i got so excited when i saw it, but he didnt seem the least bit bothered, i guess its not that interesting for the locals! That old guy turned out to be a bit of a pain, at first i thought he was really nice and friendly but he just wouldnt leave me alone! I was trying to
read my book and he kept blabbering away and i kept telling him that i didnt understand a word he was saying (he was Portuguese and it was before id started learning Spanish!) but it didnt stop in! Each day he would get a little more confident and what was just a "hello" turned into a lingering hand shake whenever he saw me (he wouldnt let go), then next day a hand shake and he kissed my hand, then it went to a kiss on both cheeks and by the end of the week i was taking massive detours to try and avoid him and whenever he shouted my name id pretend i couldnt hear him! hehe!
On the second day a guy came up to me and asked me where i was from - in English!!! I nearly fell over the boat in shock! hehe! He was 29 and a Hungarian doctor and spoke really good English so that was cool! And he did a bit of translating for me when i needed him as he speaks fluent Spanish! He also lent me a Spanish dictionary and grammar book so i spent the rest of the week learning
Spanish which was cool apart from the fact that people (mostly men) started noticing i could speak a bit more so whereever i went they would stop me and try and talk to me or stop to chat when going past my hammock etc which was really nice but trying to understand them was such hard work and once they started talking it was impossible to get rid of them! By the end of the week i was really quite rude (especially to the annoying old man) and once id answered a question or couldnt think of anything else to say, id just start reading my book infront of him in the hope hed get the hint and leave! But it didnt work! :o) I was really relieved after id met the Hungarian guy, just knowing that there was someone on-board who could understand me if i needed anything or if anything went wrong was quite a comfort although to be honest i didnt really spent that much time with him as his main purpose of the boat trip was to pick up Brazilian girls (hence he had a private cabin instead of a hammock!!) so i just left him
to it! :o)
I ended up doing quite a bit of babysitting on the boat as the woman in the hammock behind me had a little girl, probably about 1 year old, who was very cute and always wanted to come and sit in my hammock and would scream if i tried to give her back to her mum! She was only ever cute for the first 10 minutes though and as soon as i tried to take anything off her or do something she didnt want then she would start screaming and smacking me in the face! Her mum never helped during these attacks though, if she ever even looked round she would just smile! I was like ... woman your spoilt child is attacking me and throwing all my stuff around the boat could you remove her please!! That all ended on quite a sour note though and they ended up putting a bit of a damper on the whole trip when they got off the boat a day before i did (i didnt realise they were leaving until i came downstairs just after we had stopped) taking with them my teddy bear that Michi gave me
years ago, which id let the girl play with sometimes, which they stole from my bag!!! :o( I should probably be pleased it wasnt my camera etc. but still.... some things have sentimental value and i was so upset especially as id spent so much time looking after her baby - wasnt a very nice way of saying thank you! :o( I left my details with one of the guys who works on the boat and he promised that if he sees her again he will take it off her and send it back to me! Doubt it will come to anything but thought it was worth a try! I couldnt find the Hungarian guy when i was trying to explain all this to the boat guy though and it took me aaaages (even after spending a good half an hour with the dictionary before hand looking up all the words i thought i was going to need!!) to make him understand what had happened and what i wanted him to do!! I considered getting the next boat back to the place the woman got off and trying to find her but it would have taken ages to wait for the next boat, get there etc and i probably wouldnt have found her! It would have just been very satisfying to confront her and tell her (in my already rehearsed perfect Spanish hehe) exactly what i thought of her!! :o)
We stopped every now and again to let people off or unload cargo but it was always in tiny villages with no internet etc! There are lots of houses dotted along the Amazon... wooden houses on stilts (incase it floods i guess) and they all have little wooden boats to get everywhere! The children would all run out when they heard our boat coming past (there was a DJ on the roof playing really loud music!)! It was really sweet! All the houses also seemed to have loads of chickens, cows, dogs, pigs etc! Although the Hungarian guy ruined one of my evenings by telling me he saw a cow fall in the river when he was on a trip in Bolivia and the cow couldnt climb back up on to the bank and the tour guide had told them the cow would eventually drown because the embankment got steeper further down the river! :o( I asked him why they didnt try and help it and he pointed out that they weigh at least 500 pounds but still... i would have at least tried! I know im ridiculous but that really upset me and i couldnt stop thinking about it and i even dreamt about rescuing cows out of the sea with ropes! hehe! :o)
It was really cool waking up every morning and with the first thing you see being the river and the Amazon etc! Most mornings the sun rose behind us so you could only see it if you got up and went to the back of the boat but one morning i woke up with the sun shining on my face just as it was starting to rise!! very amazing! :o)
Sleeping in a hammock was actually a lot more comfortable than i thought it would be! The only problem was that sometimes (depending if more people had got on or left etc) the hammocks were so close together that if the person next to you or behind you moved it would bump your hammock... it was a bit like dominoes! :o) The guy next to me helped me put my hammock up quite high after i realised that we would be too squashed otherwise and that worked really well and i had lots more space.... the only problem was i really had to jump in and out and sometimes i was stranded in my hammock if the 2 people eitherside/below me where asleep because i couldnt get down without having to move their hammocks or jumping on them and i was always worried about waking them up! Although after a few days i realised that everyone was so laid back and noone cared! :o)
Most evenings i just read my book or learnt Spanish in my hammock and went to sleep quite early (apart from the nights i ended up having to look after the little girl because she had woken up and started crying while her mum was socialising on the roof!) but on the last night the Hungarian guy said it was going to be a bigger night so i decided to make an effort and experience the boat night life!! It was actually really fun and the Brazilian men were trying to teach me how to dance properly.... I stood on their feet at least a million times but they didnt seem to mind! :o) Was so surreal dancing on the roof of a boat going down the Amazon! :o)
OK ive been babbling away for ages so im going to stop and put up some pictures! :o) All in all though it was an amazing experience despite being on my own and im really glad i did it! :o)
Sorry havent added many photos but its taking hours and most wont upload properly so will add more another time!
Going to the what was the first city on the Amazon tomorrow for a couple of days with an English and Colombian girl ive met here! On Friday we are flying to Bogota to stay with the Colombian girls family and are then travelling around Colombia for 3 weeks! So happy ive found some girls to travel with and its like having our own personal tourguide with the Colombian girl as she obviously speaks Spanish and knows everything about Colombia! :o)
Lots of love!! xxxxxxxxxxxx