Leticia and Puerto Narino!

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July 31st 2008
Published: July 31st 2008
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Hey everyone!!

Sorry i havent done an update for ages but things have been quite crazy the last few weeks!!

Finally arrived in Tabachinga after 6 days on the Amazon boat and got a taxi over the border to Leticia (Colombia) after stamping out of Brazil, - the change between countries was sooo obvious, once in Colombia the streets were lined with police and military men, armed with massive maschine guns... was quite scary but reassuring at the same time! After learning a bit of Spanish on the boat, I even managed to have a tiny political conversation with the taxi driver about how Colombia is now much safter because of Uribe, the Colombian president! :o) Got stamped into Colombia at the Leticia airport and then asked to be dropped of at an internet cafe in town so i could try and find a hostel, as there werent any listed in the Lonely Planet! The internet cafe he dropped me off at was ofcourse closed so ended up wandering around for ages in the swealtering heat with my massive bag (full of flipflops ive bought for people!), a rucksack full of heavy books and my heavy hammock! :o( It turned out that there arent really any hostel in Leticia or Tabatinga so i ended up staying in the cheapest hotel listed in the Lonely Planet! But it turned out to be really expensive and i didnt understand why, the hotel guy just told me not to bother going anywhere else coz everywhere was booked up or more expensive! So i took the room.... which was kind of gross!! Had to go on a killing spree of insects as soon as i got in there! On the way back out to wander around town i met a guy checking in the room next to me who asked if my room was as expensive too! He was obvioulsy foreign but could speak good English which was quite exciting so i told him id come and see him later and we could maybe do something together! Unfortunately when i got back his room was empty so i assumed he had found a cheaper hotel! I did some handwashing and then hung it up on what i thought was a washing line outside, but which actually turned out to be a cable and when it fell down i ofcourse managed to pick it up on the exact spot where the plastic was broken and electrocuted myself!! oops!! :o( Then the lady who worked there came over to tell me to be careful as it was a cable.... not sure why she didnt think to tell me that while she was watching me hang my washing up! I guess she thought it would be fun to watch me electrocute myself first! hehe! :o) A little boy at the hotel was trying to talk to me in Spanish and told me i should stay longer because the 3 presidents were coming to Leticia and so was Shakira! I decided i either misunderstood him or he was just lying!!

By then i had decided against travelling around Colombia on my own as wasnt sure it was safe and my Spanish really isnt very good! So i decided to get an 8hour speed boat to Iquitos in Peru! I asked the guy at reception where to go to buy a ticket and he led me out on to the road, stopped a motorbike taxi (there were millions in Leticia!!), told the driver where to go and told me to get on! The guy handed me a helmet and off we went.... it was soooo fun and cheap! When i got back i went for a cheap healthy hamburger dinner hehe, where there were 2 girls speaking English on the table next to me, i was tempted to talk to them but as one of them sounded forgein i thought maybe the English girl was visiting her and theyd want to be alone so i didnt speak to them! But funnily enough they walked past me a few days later and asked if i wanted to join them and im now travelling with them! :o)

When i got back to my hotel room that night i had to go on another killing spree of insects with my Lonely Planet! Then i laid down on the bed and some planks of wood fell out from under it - apparantly the hamburger wasnt a good idea! hehe! The window consisted of a see through pair of curtains and a mosquito net so it was really loud! Decided i didnt want to spend any more time in the hotel room than necessary so i went to an internet cafe round the corner where i bumped into the traveller i had seen earlier! He had found a cheaper hotel and turned out to be German and was so relieved when i told him we could talk in German! hehe! :o) He told me he was staying in Leticia for nearly a week as he wanted to stay for the Shakira concert for the Peruvian, Brazilian and Colombian presidents to celebrate 198 years of years of independance!! So the little boy wasnt lying! :o) I was supposed to be leaving on Sunday morning for Iquitos but the concert was Sunday evening so the next morning i got up really early (got woken up by loud music through my non-existent window at half past 5!!) and went to ask the hotel guy if i could stay until Monday so that i could go to the concert! He said i could stay that night, but not Sunday night so i thought there was no point changing my ticket if i had nowhere to stay! But 5mins later he came to my room and said i could stay at his house for free if i wanted to and i accepted (even though i was secretely wondering whether that was safe and considering asking the German guy if i could sleep on his floor!)! I asked him what time the ticket office opened at he said 8am and then led me out on to the street again, with me desperately trying to point out that it was only 7am! But then he reminded me that despite the fact its only 5mins down the road, its Brazil so one hour ahead! hehe! So i changed my ticket for Tuesday morning and then went to meet the German guy to go to the local zoo! Unfortunately it was closed because of the fest that week, so we went and watched the childrens parade for a while and then went to ask if there were any rooms left in his hotel! Luckily there was a room free until Tuesday so i decided to move in there as it was much cheaper! I soon realised why it was so much cheaper..... the bed was so hard and uncomfortable i actually considered sleeping on the floor and the killing spree of insects which needed to be carried out before going to bed was even worse than the last place..... approximately 50 ants! From my BED!! So gross! Was sooo paranoid... kept switching on the light to check whether or not i was alone in bed hehe!!

The next day was the day of the concert! The whole town had been done up so nicely for the event.... everything had been freshly painted and there were Brazilian, Peruvian and Colombian flags, balloons etc. everywhere!! It was soooo hot! Watched the parade and then went to the internet cafe on the way to the concert grounds (a field!!), whilst waiting for the German guy to finish phoning outside, the 2 girls from the restaurant the other night walked past and asked if i was alone and wanted to go to the concert with them! So ended up going with them and the German guy! One girl is Colombian, Paula, and the other half English and half Chinese, Seimai, and they were lovely and ended up persuading me to come and travel around Colombia with them! Paulas family live in Bogota (where we have been staying for nearly a week now) and they also have a summer house in the mountains which meant free accomodation as well as a personal tour guide who speaks the language..... so i decided it must be fate and about time i had a bit of luck so i agreed! :o) The concert was really good although Shakira was a bit disappointing..... she only played 2 slow Spanish songs and then left! When everyone shouted at her to sing her hits and dance she said she couldnt as she didnt have the musicians and back up she needed!! lame!!! :o( But it was still really fun... apart from getting rather burnt and my nose blistering! :o(

The next day i went back to cancel my boat ticket and then met the girls at their family guesthouse (for poor families) which was even cheaper especially as they only charged per room so i moved in there and we put up my hammock as there were only 2 beds, which Paula slept in! We then went and booked my flight to Bogota! After that we wanted to go to a monkey island but it had been turned into a tourist report so would have been insanely expensive! So instead we got a local guy to take us to a lagoon on his fishing boat! The lagoon was called Jaguar Kaka (i think that translates as jaguar poo! hehe!) and was really cool! They had lots of parrots there, a snake (which was quite scary.... it growled like a dog if we came too close.... luckily it was in a cage!), we went paddling in the canoe and swimming in the lagoon which was really fun! And we had an audience of little local boys! After that the fisherman and his son took us to a mud beach in the middle of the Amazon which only appears once a year when the tide is low! Then on the way back he asked if we fancied stopping off in Peru (as you do... hehe!) so we stopped in town called Santa Rosa in Peru which was fun! I jumped off the boat tho (i didnt see the mud!) and sank above my knees and needed 3 fishermen to pull me out... thought they were going to dislocate my shoulders! And then our fisherman went fishing in the mud for my flipflops which he luckily found! :o) I looked a little ridiculous walking around though as i didnt want to go swimming in all my clothes so paula gave me a long tshirt/dress to wear over my underwear which went a bit see through, so i was wandering around in a see through dress, mud up to my knees and an embarrasing jungle hat on to hide my blistered nose!! hehe! :o) The first restaurant we went to for lunch was so expensive but lots of animals we looked at.... a crazy monkey on a lead who ate all the mud of my legs, parrots, other monkeys but horribly.... a baby jaguar in a tiny metal cage!! Apparantly there are no animal regulations in Peru! :o( So went to the restaurant next door where we had a huge yummy meal for just over a pound! bargain! :o) That night was "Colombian night" in Leticia but it wasnt that amazing and we were really tired so just had an early night! We fell in love with the colourful chicks which you could either buy for 30p or pay 10p for a lucky dip where u had a chance of winning one! When i found out how much they were i was quite tempted to buy all of them as i felt sorry for them! But the others pointed out that we wouldnt really know what to do with them and also they turn into hens, which are kind of ugly! hehe!! When we got back, we brought in our washing which we had done earlier and hung up and realised that my bra had been stolen! no joke! The manager said maybe someone had taken it by mistake but when i described it to her (it must be a nice bra for South American standards) she said it has definately been stolen and was sooo angry, saying it must be someone from Peru (apparantly they always steal!) and she went around trying to get someone to admit taking it and saying that if it didnt turn up she wouldnt let any Peruvians stay in her guest house ever again!! a teeny bit excessive!! was quite annoyed though.... when ur travelling ur already down to limited items of clothing!! :o(

On Tuesday we just had a relaxing day.... wandered around, tried to find a pair of shorts but apparantly im too fat for South America... sniff sniff, had an amazingly yummy lunch in an Amazonian restaurant! We decided to spend the next few days in Puerto Narino, what was the first town in the Amazon, before flying to Bogota on Friday! We left early on Wednesday morning - took 2 hours on a speed boat! When we got there a man, called Fray who was a monk, asked us if we were looking for somewhere to stay as he had little bungalow houses in the jungle not far away and quite cheap! So we got in his fishermans boat and off we went! When walking from the boat up to the bungalows, Paula told me that Fray had just told her that the other man who was with us had alligators in the bag he was carrying, which is why we had been in a hurry to leave so the police didnt see! The jungle lodge was ssoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cool! There was a monkey who was crazy and took an instant liking to me and jumped all over me covering my last clean clothes in mud! There were also 2 dogs, 2 parrots, a cat and a kitten and a new addition to the zoo.... 2 baby alligators which we held before putting them in the pond! Fray said they often dont survive in the Amazon so he brings them up to his pond until they are big enough to survive! When i was holding the alligator (feeling a teeny bit nervous!) the monkey came and jumped on my head and started pulling the alligators tail! Nearly had a heart attack!! The only English which Fray could speak was "MONKEY NO!!" which we all spent the next few days shouting at the monkey every 2 seconds who terrorised the place! I really liked him at first but that soon changed as time went on! Our bungalow was really cool.... bunk beds a hammock and a bathroom in a little house! After settling in i managed to drag myself away from the animals and we walked into town which took about 15minutes! On the way into town we saw the school there which Fray owns, its a school for poor children whose families cant afford to feed them or look after them so they are sent to live in Puerto Narino and go to school there! At 6am Fray picks up all the children in his boat and takes them to school! All the children are really sweet and all stopped to say hello on our way into town! All the boys would act really cool and mature when we walked past and said hello but you could always hear them giggling and see them turning around after we had walked past a few meters! hehe! :o) Had a yummy huge local lunch in town and then got a few things for dinner and walked back! Half way home i realised id forgotten bananas for the monkey so had to walk all the way back to get some! I thought the monkey might be a bit nicer if i gave him bananas but nope..... he still kept biting me (not hard!) and being annoying! That evening we just played with the animals (well actually it might have just been me!!) and sat chatting to Fray (with Paula translating!)! I was sat outside cuddling the kitten (trying to ignore the fact im allergic to cats hehe!) when the monkey came along and started jumping on me, biting me, screeching and trying to drag the kitten away from me! Fray told us that they go to sleep together, the kitten doesnt want to but apparantly the monkey gets scared and wants to use the kitten as a cuddly toy so when the monkey wants to go to sleep it comes and drags the cat over to the terrace (by its tail, leg - whatever it reaches first), drags it onto the chair and sits there all night, clinging on to it so it cant run away! poor kitten! :o(

Going to bed that night was interesting.... there were all types of wildlife in our room and bathroom.... particularly of the insect variety! NOT my favourite! I spent ages trying to psych myself up to going into the bathroom and the toilet, where there were many creepy crawlies including coakroaches! In the end Paula came in with me to "show me how easy and fine it was" at which point a bat flew into the bathroom so we ran out screaming! There was a straw roof on top of the bungalow and bathroom but there were alot of gaps for things to fly in! :o( After a few screaming fits after finding a few unwelcome guests in my bed we finally went to sleep! The next day one of the gardeners who works for Fray (only when he has guests and can afford to pay them!) took us to the black water lagoon lake on his fishermans boat where there are pink and grey dolphins! It was so muddy, wet and steep walking down to the boat and i had flipflops on and went sliding through the mud (in the clothes i had just scrubbed clean!!)! :o( The ride in the boat was sooo beautiful and peaceful, then we finally got to the lake and switched off the engine! Apparantly people come from all over the world to try and see pink dolphins and often dont see them but we managed to see some!! yey.... it was sooo exciting!! You could only see them for a few seconds though when they come up for air as they dont really jump out of the water! Paula and I also went swimming but unfortunately no dolphins came to swim next to us! hehe! Then we rode to the Amazon Education Centre where we learnt lots and watched a film about the Amazonian dolphins! The education centre is trying to educate the next generation about the Amazon as they dont know much about protecting their environment (everyone throws all their rubbish in the Amazon, not realising the effects!) so hopefully things will improve soon! Theres also talk about internationalising the Amazon which a lot of South Americans are unhappy about as they think its being taken away from them, however, the aim is just to try and protect it under international guidelines! So hopefully that will happen! Then we went into town for lunch and invited our tour guide for lunch as we were barely paying him anything! The meat was sooooo tough though that we ended up hiding it in Paulas bag (we didnt want to offend them!) and feeding it to some stray dogs on our way home! That afternoon we went for a walk in the jungle which was amazing..... saw and ate loads of fruits ive never even seen before including sugar cane which was yum! Also found natural paints and painted our faces! Saw an aligator, had to cross a few streams on a tree log (luckily the guy helped us across otherwise i definately would have fallen in hehe, sank in mud a few times (my speciality!) etc! It was all very exciting! We were also accompanied by one of the dogs from the jungle lodge! I loved it!

That evening Fray cooked us dinner.... fish!! proper fish! The kind of fish ive refused to eat all of my life..... with the head, bones and what has always freaked me out the most... the EYES!! And it was actually really yummy, apart from the fact i couldnt quite master taking out the tiny bones and kept eating them! Then we all wrote in his visitors book and I translated the German entries he had and Seimai translated the Chinese comments! He then gave us a present and said he was really sad we were leaving because he really liked us and we had "good energy!!" hehe! Felt a bit sorry for him as he is obviously a bit lonely! That night we sat outside and looked at the Milky Way! It was amazing... i have never seen so many stars in my life, soooooo cool!! Also saw lots of fireflies etc!! I decided to give the poor kitten a night off from being a hostage so i cuddled him all night despite the monkeys attempt to steal him! And then when we went to bed I made Fray promise he would keep the kitten inside and not let him out even if the monkey cries for him (apparantly if Fray keeps the kitten inside the monkey cries at the door until Fray gives him the kitten!!)! That night was even more scary going to bed and to the toilet.... there were even more disgusting things in the bathroom that i actaully prefered the idea of just wetting the bed hehe! That night when i got into bed Paula jumped and looked at a space above my bed but refused to tell me what she saw! She told me today that it was something about half a meter long scrambling along the wall above my bed! yikes! soooo glad she didnt tell me then! i think i would have had a heart attack! She also said she saw something about the size of the donkey walking past our window in the early hours of the morning!! wow!!

Our stay in the Amazon really was a highlight of the trip so far.... it was so much fun and we saw and did soooo much!!! And we are still laughing about everything that happened there! We still shout "MONKEY NO!!" at eachother daily hehe! That monkey really was a nightmare though.... he would come and terrorise us in the shower, steal our shower gel and run away with it, he managed to get in our room, stole paulas toothbrush, broke my sunglasses etc!! Fray is hoping that a pack of monkeys will come along soon and take the monkey with them, apparanlty thats what usually happens!! I really hope the poor kitten is ok!! :o(

The next morning we had to get up at 5:30am to get our 7am boat back to Leticia! Met a German man on the boat who was quite possibly the most annoying, patronising person ive ever met and i spent the whole 2 hours regretting being friendly and speaking to him in German! We had left some of our stuff in the guest house so we wouldnt need to carry as much, so went back to pick it up! Paula asked the woman if she had found my bra but no luck! We showered, went to the internet cafe and then went back to the guest house to get our stuff and go to the airport! I was just walking down the corridor with my bag when a woman came out of her room, holding my bra and gave it to me! I didnt understand a word she was saying but then the woman who ran the guesthouse came along and told Paula that the woman had said her husband had taken it by mistake! They didnt believe her and thought she just felt guilty and decided to give it back at the last minute! I have never been so happy to see a bra in my life, i nearly put it on and wore it over my tshirt hehe!!

Right this has turned into another essay and its really late now so im going to try and quickly add a few photos and will do my entry of Bogota over the next few days!!

Lots and lots of love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

OK ive added a million pictures.... there are loads more buts its now midnight and we are getting up at 5am to leave Bogota and get the bus! So i might add more another time or il just have to show you when i get back!! :o)

Additional photos below
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31st July 2008

süße Küken ;-)
Hallo Lisa, das sieht ja echt aus wie im Paradies!! Und ich freu mich so für dich, dass du nette Freunde zum Reisen gefunden hast! Ich bin schon sehr gespannt, was du noch alles erlebst! Lass es dir weiter gut gehen!! Viele liebe Grüße, Katrin
1st August 2008

Monkey Business
Hi Babes Wondering about your voluntary project in Bolivia with all those monkeys .... you had enough trouble with one!!! About the mud, how many traumas does one pair of flip flops have to go through? Never a dull moment as usual. Love you. Keep safe. xxxxxxx
3rd August 2008

deine Reise
Hallo liebe Lisa. Ich sehe du hast viel Spaß dort und hast viele Freunde kennen gelernt. Wenn ich mir deine Fotos anschaue, denke selbst darüber nach, so eine Weltreise zu machen. Liebe Grüße und sei dort vorsichtig.
3rd October 2008

i hope one of these pairs of flipflops u keep mentioning that u hav bought for ppl and are carrying around are for me! and can i pls have a pink chick-it can be a house warming present-pls send special delivery. xx

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