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South America » Colombia » Leticia » Rio Yavari, Amazon
October 30th 2007
Published: December 3rd 2007
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The top deck was not special on this trip......a little crowded at times
Time had come for us to get organised and get back on another boat and head further down river to Leticia, Colombia. This time we were ready to be hassled at the port by people trying to help us to do things that we were more than capable of doing ourselves. For instances organising our voyage with the captain of the boat. As we arrived in our moto taxi it was surrounded by men trying to help but this time in no uncertain terms we told them that we did not need any help and that we were fine by ourselves. It is suprising how long it takes some people to realise what you are saying to them and it really does take getting angry to finally get the message across.....even if I had to do it in English I think they understood the tern f&%K off! Our choice of boats was some what limited and at this point we realised that this part of the journey was possibly not going to be any where as comfortable as the first part. This was confirmed once we had spoken to the captain and seen the boat and for the price we were

One of the main towns along the river where there was lots of hussle and bussle
going to pay, half of what we paid on the other one, we were glad that this trip was only going to be 2 nights and 1 full day. After deciding what boat to go on we headed back to town to get organised and loaded up with food in case the boat food was inedible, water and some chains to tie our bags to the nearest pole. We had been talking to a Kiwi guy who had gone to the port and was on the boat getting his hammock tied up when a young boy just stolled along and picked up his small bag containing all his important things like money and passport. Luckily he had his eyes on his bag and was able to grab the kid before he got too far away, but it made us a little wary and decided it was better to chain our bags so we could relax a little more. Once we were ready to go we hailed a moto taxi and we were off towards the port. The driver had told us that he knew how to get to the port as there were works on the road leading into the

Boats getting loaded up with produce and people
port and there was a different road that had to be taken. As we turned from the main road we noticed that it was different to our earlier trip but we assumed that it was just an alternative route. He dropped us at the end of a dirt road and told us we had to walk to the right........not happy that we were not right at the boat like we should be with all our bags we started to walk. After about 400m or 5 minutes we realised that we were no where near where we had to be......and the driver had charged us more than our earlier taxi ride and had dropped us in the wrong spot. So sweating profusely and carrying not only our bags but all the food and water that we needed for the next few days we started to make our way back to get another moto to the correct area. Again we were surrounded by people willing to help but by this stage I had no patience to be shafted again so I think they kind of realised this by the look on my face and left us alone. Finally we made it to

Cooking up some lunch on the side of the river
the top level of the boat to find that there was many people with their hammocks already tied up, but we managed to find a little space next to a pole. This trip was already very different to our last one as in total there was only 2 other gringos on the boat and neither of them seemed to be able to communicate like human beings. As it turned out one was spanish and didn´t speak English, so that was fair enough, but the other was a tosser who seemed to not have the time to talk to us even though he was stuck on a boat for 2 days. Again the departure time was no where near acurate, which we had expected, and as we waited for the boat to be loaded more and more people arrived to hang their hammocks. Sharyn ended up with a new friend who tied his hammock rather close to hers even though there was plenty of room to either tie it somewhere else or leave her a little more space. He then proceeded to lie in his hammock facing her, making Sharyn have to pretend she was sleeping or bury herself in her

A family waiting on the side of the river
hammock. By the time we left we were pretty much packed in like sardines but we had managed to keep all our belongings and could now relax as the real danger was while we were at port where there was a lot of vendors coming onto the boat. Sleep came pretty fast and the only thing that woke us was the torrential rain that started in the middle of the night. Rarely have I witnessed that much water falling from the sky in such a short period, something that most of Australia could do with at the moment. Along with huge amounts of water there was a wicked lightning storm that at times would light the whole place up as if it was day time, and very loud claps of thunder. I was still having trouble comprehending the idea that in a months time the river would be 8-10m higher, but when we were in the middle of these storms then it was obvious how it would occur. The next morning we were woken by the staff handing out breakfast. I hadn´t expected much and I think I was right on the money as we were handed a cup with

Some of the ladies on our boat. For the first time I saw a few ladies wearing these navy blue vails
a liquid that was meant to be some form of soup and two pieces of stale bread. I did attempt to eat the soup but just couldn´t do it, which made eating the dried bread interesting as I had nothing to dip it in......thank god we brought our own food along. Luckily in the morning a lot of people got off the boat allowing us to stretch out a little bit. Our day was pretty lazy as all we could really do was lie on our hammocks, read, sleep, eat and people watch as we pulled into the small villages along the way. It really wasn´t too uncomfortable other than when we had to use the toilet as they could only be described using one word and that would be.....ferral. I really wanted to have a shower or just get some water on me to cool down but couldn´t face standing in the toilet/shower any longer than I had to. After using the toilet downstairs where the majority of people would go for most of the day we finally realised that there was one upstairs that was still terrible but a lot better. The main entertainment for the day was

Cruising down the river
the fact Sharyn was in the process of finding herself a husband. We had stopped at a village to take on more people and their cargo, including one guy with his squealing pigs and chickens. I had noticed him getting on as they had to drag the pigs down the banks of the river while they squealed as loud as they could. It took around 4 men pulling and pushing them to get them on the boat. About an hour later I found Sharyn talking to a man, who turned out to be the pig owner, and who was asking Sharyn a whole range of very forward questions. The usual questions about whether you have a boyfriend or husband and whether you want a Colombian one had been asked, but this guy was definately keen and not backward about coming forward. He then went on to tell Sharyn that he had pigs and chickens, I think she was meant to be impressed with this but being a vegetarian it really didn´t matter. He then asked her if she believed in love at first sight and whether it had happened to her before......her answer was 'not yet´....which was possibly not the

The banks of the Amazon River
answer he was looking for. As soon as I arrived she told me to help her get away, which I did for a while but he was always hanging around for the rest of the trip. I thought that considering that he did have pigs and chickens and that he was reasonably good looking and quite fit, that she should consider his offer and maybe stay in Leticia for a while and see what could come of it. All I asked was that she get married in the next 6 weeks while I was in Colombia so I could be her bridesmaid without having to pay for a flight back here.

That night we had a wicked sunset over the river and it was something that we had not seen yet on either of our boat trips. Lunch had made up for a dodgy breakfast but dinner just brought my opinion of some local food right back down. It also consisted of a cup of something, which turned out to be plantain soup, and more dried bread. After just one smell I decided that was enough for me and made yet another sandwich. We also were treated to another

Sunset over the Amazon River
amazing tropical storm that night which made the windows leak with streams of water and it felt like the roof was going to cave in with the force of the water. It would be interesting to know how much water falls during these storms. The next morning we arrived in the town of Santa Rosa, which is still in Peru, where we needed to get off and get our passports stamped. After waiting for around an hour we finally were allowed off the boat and had to trek up the banks of the river to the office. At this point I was starting to realise that wearing thongs in these conditions is not all that practical as they seem to get stuck with every foot step which leads you to either nearly fall over or have a blow out with your thongs. After being stamped we jumped onto a small boat and headed over to Leticia, Colombia. There are three towns here and they are all from different countries: Santa Rosa, Peru....Leticia, Colombia and Tabatinga, Brazil all of which you can go to without any red tape. Due to the water level being so low we had to take the small boat up a canal that took us the edge of Leticia and from there we had to walk into town. Once off the boat we started to walk up the banks which as a result of days of heavy rain were slippery and soggy mud. At this point wearing thongs was confirmed as ridiculous in these conditions as I was having major difficulty getting up the hill. Sharyn who had been smart enough to put her runners on had made it to the top. I was stuck in one spot as every time I went to move I either started to slide back down the hill or nearly lost my balance and was close to falling over. I couldn´t stop laughing and even after taking off my thongs I was still having issues, luckily for me though where I had got stuck was close to a small shop. A lovely old local man came to my rescue and held my hand to assist me up the hill as I continued to giggle and nearly fall over. By this stage Sharyn had turned around and finding this highly amusing was in fits of laughter as it looked like this guy was about to take me for a dance......except I was anything but graceful. So I arrived in Leticia covered in mud and barefoot, but I assumed it was just normal as I really didn´t even get a second look. Straight away you could tell we were back in Colombia....firstly because you couldn´t here any more terrible music like in Peru and it was all salsa, the infrastructure was much better and the people were different. From here we had to find the hostel we had been told about so after a quick phone call Gustavo came to met us and take us back to his hostal where we were welcomed with coffee and I felt like we had arrived at a friend´s home.


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