On the Amazon

After our long bus trips, Mike and I were excited for the boat portion of our journey into the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Not really knowing what to expect, we simply headed toward the boat docks in search of something that would take us to Iquitos (the largest city in the world that can’t be reached by road).

Before long we were aboard the Eduardo III, a three-floor cargo/passenger riverboat. The first floor was devoted to cargo, some of which was live cattle. The second floor was reserved for second-class passengers and was extremely packed. We ended up on the third floor, which was for first-class passengers. The slightly steeper fare (about $40 each for the 3-day, 2-night journey and meals) afforded us better grub and a bit more elbow room.

Here’s a view of the cattle penned up on the first floor below us.

Their backs were painted before we launched. Apparently branding (with hot irons) isn’t practiced in the Amazon.

Some less-interesting cargo stacked aboard.

The second-class accomodations were a bit cramped. This photo was taken before we even left port, so I think a few more squeezed in later.

Mike also took this colorful hammock picture in second-class.

Here’s a pic of one of our fellow first-class passengers napping.

Before we even left Yurimaguas we spotted several river dolphins near the boat; unfortunately, this turned to be about all the wildlife we saw on the way. It’s the rainy season, and the river is extremely wide. This makes it a bit hard to spot any animals in the trees from the boat’s deck. Not that it mattered much — there were plenty of other things to gawk at along the way.

Sorry, this is the best river dolphin photo we have. They’re hard to catch on camera.

We passed a lot of small river villages along the way. Most of them had goods to sell or orders to collect from the boat. If we were dropping off a large shipment we’d dock for a short time; otherwise, the villages would send small boats out to meet us as we floated along.

This is one of the many villages along the way.

Look! A topless villager on the riverbank! Mike was so excited…

Another photo of the Amazon riverbank… Actually, I’m not sure if we were on the Amazon yet since we were on one of its tributaries for a while first.

What a nice tree!

This is one kind of boat quite common along the river.

Here’s another popular model.

I think this photo is pretty emblematic of the Amazon riverbanks.

And now for a lovely sunset picture…

Obviously this town was anticipating an exchange.

It was also remarkably progressive. These people are more aware of the outside world than I am. Apparently it was International Women’s Day or something. These feminists were picketing on the banks of the Amazon. Rock on, ladies!

Life onboard was pretty relaxed. I spent a lot of time reading in my hammock or watching the scenery scroll before my eyes. Mike spent a lot of time taking pictures. He also tried his hand at shooting logs floating by; one of our fellow passengers had a BB gun.

Most of the passengers aboard were locals from Yurimaguas or Iquitos, but there were a few other tourists and gringos aboard. About halfway into our journey we picked up some american missionaries, too. At one point I was accosted by a pregnant passenger from second-class who wanted to buy a package of Oreos off me. I didn’t know what to charge and didn’t want a hungry pregnant lady mad at me, so I just gave her a few cookies. She was happy, and I’m pretty sure she told me she was going to name her baby after me. Giving her free cookies might have been a mistake though, because she kept lurking over my hammock. After I refused to give her money (in addition to the cookies she had originally offered to buy) she finally backed off. I was a bit creeped out though… Other than this slightly strange incident, we got along with our fellow passengers fabulously.

After a couple of days on the boat we docked at Iquitos. Our introduction to this city was memorable, but once again I have to wait for the pictures before explaining. Sit tight. It’ll be a few days this time though, because Mike and I are going on a 3-day jungle expedition. I’m sure that will produce a few stories, and I have a lot to catch you up on already… Ah well. I’ll get to it eventually, I promise.

2 Responses to “On the Amazon”
  1. Anonymous says:

    The last 2 blogs are fascinating! You are certainly having a GREAT adventure! Love you, aunt kathy

  2. Anonymous says:

    What a way to travel! In a hammock–cool!That looks a lot more comfortable than tight airplane seats! Again, you’re pictures are fabulous! Where in the world are you going to store all the pictures you take, Mike?! Gma

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