The most beautiful ‘rubbish’ place ever!!!

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South America » Colombia » Leticia » Rio Yavari, Amazon
January 6th 2013
Published: February 20th 2013
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We arrived to the place of 3 frontiers before lunch time and were dropped at the bank of the Amazon on the Peruvian side, we think. It was hard to tell because there was a lot going on around us and to get anywhere we had to take a water taxi anyway. We negotiated a price with a boatmen and he took us first to the immigration office so that we could be stamped out of Peru. As it happens water is too low for the barca to go there so you have to really deal with the extra cost. It was not much anyway and the guy waited for us to take us to Leticia, port of entry to Colombia…ah, finally.

People say it is not pretty but we found it rather nice. The streets are nicely coordinated; it is very green and very, very lively. It is hard to say how, but this place is so much different to Peru. It is probably not solely thanks to the people, as this place was a dispute between Colombia and Peru for decades, hence a mix of cultures live there, but maybe the ‘inland’ Colombians, who relocated here, brought with them the vibe, the colors and the music of Colombia. The salsa music was to be heard everywhere and people were obviously in festive spirit. As we almost forgot about Christmas we also forgot that it was the New Years Eve time the next day. We really wanted to move on to Puerto Narino but decided that Leticia might have more going on.

We were shocked with the prices of rooms that were quoted to us. We know, we know, it was a holiday season but still 30$ for a crappy room was a little bit too much. We walked around for ages trying all the budget hotels and when we were about to give up we found a nice private room with a kitchen use for 35,000COP/18$ which was ok. Not the first time that our patience paid out. We went for a stroll to check food prices in town and then to the airport to get stamped in (they wanted 7$ for a taxi). That is another inconvenient thing about this border crossing. None of the immigration points are on the way or in town. We walked the 3,5km to the Airport Immigration office as apparently staying in the country for 4 days without stamp is illegal….

Because almuerzo (lunch) was also 7$ each we thought we would have to buy produce and cook. There is no other way for us to be able to stay more or less on budget. As some people told us before: "being on budget sucks”, which we partially agree with but let me assure you that it is also very rewarding. You can treat it as a challenge and that is exactly how we approach it. If we make it work, we can travel for longer which is the bottom line for us. Besides, after spending so much time in hotels and restaurants you really want to get some of your favorite foods that you cook yourself.

Because of the New Year’s celebrations we got stuck in Leticia for 3 days even though we really wanted to stay in Puerto Narino before flying out. We were wrong about the street celebrations. There was absolutely nothing going on in this little town and only posh hotels and clubs had parties planned. We did not want to attend either of them so we just bought some nice food and loads of alcohol and simply got drunk. Yeah, we know, how awfully boring of us!!! It is not the same to celebrate without your friends or any other group of people you know so we just stayed in. We saw a nice dancing show in front of a supermarket which was very interesting and then got drunk hahha

When we finally were able to move on, we took a water taxi service to Puerto Narino (15$ each one way, 1,5h) and got dropped in this little village in the middle of a jungle. That was more like it. We liked it instantly. It was green, low key and very very clean. Not many people know that Puerto Narino is an exceptional place not only because of the National Park which is located nearby but because they simply recycle everything. Yes, everything and it is full of 'transformed' rubbush. As it was just after Christmas and New Year’s we saw extraordinary town decorations made of plastic bags, bottles and paper. Anything they could reuse was there in shape of X-mas Trees, Nativity and garlands. Apparently they have a group of volunteer women who clean the streets daily and take care of the
our boat passangersour boat passangersour boat passangers

can you the frog and the colorful cycade? so cute

This place is incredibly isolated yet so modern and fabulous. The only way to get there is by the Amazon but still they apply the modern ways of recycling water, plastic, paper and glass. They should be an example for all the other villages, towns and cities on the continent. The society is very structured there as well. Everybody has their own jobs, purpose if you like and they belong to a clan. On majority of houses we could see sign posts explaining which clan this particular family belongs to. How funny. As we only got 2 night left before our flight to the capital we had to use our time wisely. We arranged for a guide together with another Colombian couple and the next day we were taken to the Terapoto Lake in the jungle.

Let me just tell you that if what we saw in Peruvian jungle was not enough to fulfill our Amazon dreams, then this was. The boat took us through canals and lakes hidden in the jungle and we had to sometimes go through the dense forests to get to where we wanted. AMAZING!!!We saw loads of birds, plants, fished for piranhas
are they trained?are they trained?are they trained?

they just flew into the shop, just like that
and then finally got to see dolphin again. For some reason the Amazon dolphins like the sound of the engine and there is a trick to see more of them. You just have to go fast in big circles to create waves and they play with them. They jump over them and they just love it. It works every time. It was a good day and for 15$ for two, totally worth it.

As it started to rain we could not do much more, but just stroll around, enjoy food and spend time with locals. It was a first place we visited in South America that had so many skinny looking dogs so we felt we had to do something. We bought some dry food and were feeding them if they looked really bad. We got to like a really funny looking couple of dogs – beauty and the beast you could call them. One was a huge Rhodesian and the beauty was a tiny cross-bread bitch that looked really scared - both very neglected and homeless. When locals heard how much Rhodesian costs in Europe they just shook their heads. “Take him, we can make more” - they said. Believe me, if we could we would have. They looked so funny when we fed them – big and small, scary and scared but both equally beautiful.

One afternoon we were buying water in a store and to Ara parrots flew in. It surprised us so much that we did not know what to do. They obviously had done it before. They sat at the counter and pointed towards sweet buns with their beaks and the owner just handed it over to one of them. This is the sort of place Puerto Narino is. You struggle to see Ara closely in a zoo and here they just eat chocolate buns when they feel like hahha It was lovely and we loved every minute of it. We loved the eco culture, jungle feel, beautiful cottages you can stay in but regrettably we had to move on to catch our afternoon flight to Bogota … Good things always end too soon!!!

PS. While taking off I was lucky enough to sit on the right side of a plane and could see the mighty Amazon River from above. Just as they show it on Discovery Channel, the dirty looking water of brown-ish color was winding between an abundant and green jungle for miles and miles to be seen. Simply fabulous!!! Another thing ‘to see before I die’…done!!!

Additional photos below
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20th February 2013

I am going to read this blog next, because the photos look so good. I hope, that place is not too difficult to get to, because it looks like some place I would like to put on my list of possibilities. :)
24th February 2013

hi Mell
yeah it is a little bit isolated but that is exactly the point:-) cheers, B&T
8th March 2013

The challenge of the budget
As you say it can be tough but rewarding. You've done very, very well the last year+. Finding a good room around holidays can be tough if not booked in advance. Glad you saw a lot of animals and birds.

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