Sunday, January 20, 2013

Amazon Adventure

Hammocks, hammocks, nothing but hammocks

Riding along the soft waves of the world's largest river. Seeing nothing but water and rainforest for WEEKS. Sleeping on hammocks swinging along to the movement of the boat. Getting a taste of the jungle, its animals and the heat. Yes, that's what we wanted – an Amazon adventure.
There are basically two ways to do it. Number one, Fitcarraldo style: You build your own boat, buy all the supplies, get hammocks, mosquito nets and leave it to faith, fortune and the good mood of the mosquitoes if you make it or not. I have met two adventurers who actually did that. They made it. How was it? “Oh, it was the best experience ever! We had no idea what we were doing really. The bugs bothered us during the days, there were some weird insects that came in swarms during the night – so we hardly slept. After a couple of days I got an infection in my leg from a mosquito bite – it got worse with every new bite until I couldn't move my leg any more.” “Well, and this is where I had to jump in, since he couldn't help me push the boat any more. Once our compass fell into the water and I had to dive really deep to get it. 

That gave me an ear infection and I am basically deaf on my left ear now.” Great adventure??? No thanks! I decided that I'd stick to option number two: cross the Amazon on a passenger boat. That would take me across safely, no major adventures included. Little did I know … In total, I went all the way across the river, from Peru until the Atlantic coast of Brazil. It took 13 days and 4 boats and A LOT OF PATIENCE. While the first boat was exactly what I expected: two days just hanging out in my hammock, reading, writing, chatting with travel mates, seeing river dolphins and watching beautiful sunsets, it seemed like I stepped into a horror movie afterward. 

As soon I set foot on boat number 2, I knew that something went horribly wrong. The “boat” must have been designed for transporting animals: tiny, no protection from wind and water and bathrooms that smelled worse than cow dung on a hot day. This is all within the first 10 minutes on board. 

How many people can you fit on one boat?

not very much space at all for these two buddies ...i somehow can understand them now

Obviously, with 250 more people squeezing in, space became a relative word with hammocks on top of you, children sleeping below you and moving from one place to another always involved crawling; no protection from the outside elements meant a mini-flood all over your belongings and don't even make me explain the increasing toilet odors I was exposed to. Let me just say the following: For the next 3 days I didn't shower (considering the toilets – the showers are inside the toilet booths – and the brown water coming out of the faucets, sweating seemed like the best option) and I drank and ate as little as humanly possible, just so I didn't have to use the bathrooms more than twice a day. For some reason, the majority of the Peruvian passengers did not seem to mind at all: Crawling around all over, taking shower after shower and even eating the breakfast porridge (= oat meal with hot river water). Up to this point, I could still attribute it to cultural difference in perception. But: little children peeing into my backpack, their mother laughing at it, a little girl shitting all over herself (no, there is no nicer way to put this!) and her mother cleaning it up with a towel that was later used for drying the little girl after a shower, raggaeton coming full blast out of cell phones and speakers (different songs at the same time, mind you!) – now that was just too much! I was counting the minutes until our arrival and sure enough I was the first one to jump off this boat from hell. Now if you want an Amazon adventure, here it is. An ear and a leg infection?! Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

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