Friday, July 15, 2011

With the flow of queen of the rivers...

Hammocks on our slow boat.
One of the best Polish movies ever is an cult movie called "Rejs" ("The Cruise") and talks about a interactions between passengers during the river cruise along Vistula and was released in 1970. This move has a very specific atmosphere and is full of mostly difficult to translate polish humor. This movie is extremely rich with great quotations, just to give a feeling, here are two examples:

"...but what voting system can be used to select the method of voting?"
"'s time for actions, not words. Now let me speak."

Long, long time ago there is no such a river cruise on Vistula river. In most places around the world the river transport was substitute by much faster road one. But there is the queen of the rivers - Amazon, where one can still feel an unique atmosphere of slow traveling, lazy boat going down the stream while one interacts with other travelers on board for days...

There are only two different ways to get to Iquitos, either to take a plane, or to take a boat down the river. Sever kilometers before Iquitos two rivers are joining together and they form the queen of all rivers Amazon.

14 people can travel at the back of this collectivo!!!
But lets start from the beginning. I first needed to get to one of the ports on the river. I got to Yurimaguas at the back of the small track, which was a collectivo. This was one of the most crowded collectivo I have ever experience. We were like 14 people at the back of the small track, together with the fridge, platanos, chickens, ducks. Some people were simply holding to the truck with one hand... But one should not expect too much comfort if one pays 10 soles (4 dollars) for 4 h of travel. Despite of very cosy atmosphere, I really enjoy the scenery and the ride. I got to Yurimaguas just on time to make shopping and get on the slow boat to Iquitos. I got some backup food, comfortable hammock, necessary water and a bowl for meals and I went to the port. Apparently in the port I was told that they would not manage to unload and upload the boat and the boat will leave the following day. However, everyone was allowed to stay on the boat the extra night without additional costs. I took an advantage of it and I wanted to wander a bit through the city. But first I needed to find trustfully looking people on the boat, to whom I could leave my luggage. I decided to live my backpack closed to a smiling beard and long hair guys.

Loading the boat.
There were three decks on the boat. The first one was dedicated to cargo. And we carried everything on this boat: 30 cows, hundreds of Coca-Cola and beer bottles, thousands of eggs, tons of toilet paper, two motorbikes, one auto rickshaw, one car and many, many more things. It remained my the great polish poem: The Locomotive by Julian Tuwim:

Boat almost ready to departure
(missing only one car).
"Numerous wagons she tugs down the track:
Iron and steel monsters hitched up to her back,
All filled with people and other things too:
The first carries cattle, then horses not few;
The third car with corpulent people is filled,
Eating fat frankfurters all freshly grilled.
The fourth car is packed to the hilt with bananas,
The fifth has a cargo of six grand pi-an-as.
The sixth wagon carries a cannon of steel,
With heavy iron girders beneath every wheel.
The seventh has tables, oak cupboards with plates,
While an elephant, bear, two giraffes fill the eighth.
The ninth contains nothing but well-fattened swine,
In the tenth: bags and boxes, now isn't that fine?"
(The translation of this poem come from the following page).

Small passanger in his bed.

But coming back to our boat. The second and the third deck was dedicated for passengers.There were a handful number of very warm and expensive cabin, but most people were sleeping on the hammocks. There was a huge difference in ventilation between those decks. The second floor deck had side walls and small windows, and the third one did not have walls and just in case of rain one put up foil for protection. I was surprised that most of the local people initially had chosen the second floor. If they preferred the second one there had to be something much better there. So I also had chosen this place for my hammock. I put it up in between my beard friends. But I did not last longer than few minutes here. It was TOO hot. I moved my hammock to the third floor deck and I felt like in heaven with the fresh river breeze on my face.
Me in the hammock.
I guess all those boats do not have a upper limit of people. They take as many people as there is a need. And of course everyone has his own hammock and everyone wants to set it up somewhere. During my trip there was a distance of few centimeters between every hammock but sometimes the "concentration" of the hammock can be very high. I was told that in the peak of the season hammocks can be attached one over the other. Than it has to be very cosily on this boat.

Our great cook.
Finally, 24 h after the initially schedule, the boat denatured. I serious find my schedule very busy on this trip. The price of the ferry trip included three meals a day. The meals were simple but I was relatively positively surprise with the quality of the food as well with the fact that one could always ask for some repetitions :) Every day there were three provided meals. One had to queue a bit to get ones portion. All the meals were provided by cook, who was like an institution on the boat. He was declared gay and one could see that he enjoyed his life and work on the boat a lot. Whenever he was providing meals, he would always smile, dance and sing. What a great approach to life!!!!

Passangers as well cows were enjoying
the flow of the river
I spent quite a bot of time enjoying the view of amazon, neighbouring villages and amazing flooded forest. I talked a bit with my new local friends, including my beard new friends. The following days we become good friends. They explained me that they were Israelites. They live in a religious community 24h travel from Iquitos They were Peruvian people but they followed strictly similar rules that are following by orthodox Israelites in Israel. They also showed me a specific quotations in the Bible (of course in Spanish) which proves that next Messiah will come very soon in Peru. They had strong proves for this.
Sun rise over the "fresh water sea".
I talked a bit also with other passengers and we contemplated together the view of the river and enjoy this constant flow of the water. Flow, flow of Amazon river. Amazon carries more water than 6 other biggest river in the world all together!!!!! I only was in the beginning of the Amazon.... and it already looked like "fresh water sea".  Incredible.

Full moon over Amazon.
I think that the great way of traveling though Amazon is to built  a raft upstream and try to sail all the way to the end of the Amazon to Brazil. Maybe I will consider  this once, but then I would have to learn a bit of Portuguese since I would need it in Brazil.
My slow boat pals.
I also met very interesting Gringos here, with whom I spent also some time. Gildas is a French film maker who is making an experimental movie about the medicine traditional. For the sample of his work you can have a look here. Some of his frames are seriously excellent!!! Maria is an Bolivian Artesano girl brought up in Belgium, who is traveling in south America for last three years. I will write soon about Artesano people in Latin America. Paulina is an French girl that just graduated from University. Maria and Paulina found a small dog Matias on the Ecuador-Peru border and they adopted it, and were searching for a new proper family and home for the puppy, called Mathias. I also talked a lot with Fernando, Colombian guy, who discovered different life perspective during his travel.

Finally after 24h waiting for departure and 48h sailing down the river, we reached Iquitos. I had only one serious complain about the whole boat trip - It was too short!!!

And I was sure that I will take next slow boat soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment