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Published: October 22nd 2012
The Amazon Adventure – Day One
Like all good adventure stories this one started with a plan, hiccupped slightly, fell apart completely and will hopefully (unconfirmed at the time of writing) have a happy ending. The Plan
Leave Quito @ 4am to drive the 300k to Coca then travel by boat for 2 hours down the River Napo to reach an eco lodge deep in the Amazon jungle. Stay for 3 nights, go on jungle hikes during the day and night, eat nice food and generally have a lovely time. The Hiccup
Combination of bad weather and bad roads meant that the direct route to Coca became impassable earlier in the week.
New Plan – leave Quito at 2am to allow for a huge detour and still make the 1pm boat booking. The Falling Apart
Bed at 10pm, up at 1am, ready to go with gear loaded onto the truck by 1.45am……. 2am comes and goes and we unfortunately do not. The truck had issues – something to do with compression and the handbrake – it was 2am I wasn’t paying full attention.
Around 2.30 it was
wagons roll and off we went, making good time and still set to make the boat booking in Coca.
The detour took us high into the Andean mountains, lots of steep climbs and switchbacks. The truck struggles on the ups and struggles on the downs….. by 4am the clutch had gone. The drivers spend an hour draining the fluid and doing other mechanical stuff before it’s fixed and we’re on the road again, keen to make up lost time but still struggling to move up through the gears.
By 6am the clutch has gone completely, this time with an added bonus of a small engine fire. We’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, tired and hungry - with the truck at a standstill on a blind corner up the side of a mountain. The route is a busy one so every 5 minutes or so huge tankers scream past, not bothering to put their foot on the breaks but using the horns instead to show their annoyance of having a truck blocking their way. Throughout the day some truckers stopped and attempted to help, but each time after much scratching of heads they called defeat and drove off
leaving us to it once again.
The rest of the day has been long and tedious; we retire to a patch of scrub land up the road out of the path of the oncoming vehicles, whilst the drivers cover themselves in oil lying under the truck and attempt to fix the many things that seem to have gone wrong. We wait out the day playing cards, silly word association games and draw straws for who will be eaten first…… 10 long hours later a coach arrives to ferry us to Coca – still a 5 hour drive away.
Having just reached Coca it’s been 20 hours since we set off, 10 of them spent sitting in the sun making our own entertainment, I should be annoyed but actually it’s been an ok day, even quite good fun in parts, not quite the trip to the jungle I was expecting, but experiencing the unexpected is why I came to South America and why I travel in general. I’ve gotten to know my fellow travellers better than I probably would have done had things gone to plan.
Hopefully we'll be heading off to the Amazon tomorrow morning, a day late but no worse off for our 'little' detour.
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