The rumors abound: watch your stuff every minute or you will be robbed, the mosquitos are voracious and will eat you alive, the food gross, the noise deafening. Ah.
The minute the cab dropped me off at the port in Leticia, Alex, a young man offered to carry my heavy roll-along bag across the island to the boats. For about a dollar and a bottle of water, he not only carried the bag, he found me a boat. Along the short walk, he asked a thousand questions about the US. He was especially interested in Las Vegas. Young men used-back in the day- to be interested in Hollywood.
I was safely, for if you are to believe the rumors again, the boats are unsafe, the drivers reckless. Personally, I believe people who make their lives on the sea are some of the must cautious, reverential folks on the planet. So, I arrived on the muddy bank of the Amazon in Peru. A short mototaxi to the customs office, and I was legal for the next 90 days.
Now I had several hours to kill before boarding the boat. Lunch with locals on a picnic table in front of a hardware store, carried there in styrofoam coolers by moto taxi. It was delicious chicken, beans, rice, and totally fresh salsa. She allowed me to pick out the piece of chicken I wanted!
After lunch I still had a few hours. I stopped at a restaurant that was obviously closed, but the owner saw me and welcomed me to come in. I told him I had a few hours, he offered me the hammock over looking the marsh and river. “Se puede descansar en la hamaca. ” I ordered a cold beer and took him up on the offer. I napped, feeling safe and content.
I stood on a steep bank looking at two boats. The Gran Diego and the Maria Fernandez. Porters raced to and fro, up and down the steep hill laden with enormous burdens. These young men grow old fast.
I started downhill to the MF because it was the closest. My roll- on wanted to roll away, and my heavy backpack pushed me forward. A man, Manolo, came along beside me, took the former, and carried it to the top deck(actually next to top because the top was used by the crew). He then hung my hammock, shook my hand and went to his, I assume.
Later that day, he came to visit me, but the minute he sat down on the bench at the end of my hammock and gave me a little wave, a woman traveling with her son sat beside him. She talked and talked. Finally he left. My chance of the Maria Fernandez becoming a love boat dashed before departure.
I still hadn’t bought a ticket. I asked a guy in a hammock where and when that happened. “Mas tarde.” Lol.
More people boarded. Finally, Rene, a Canadian/Italian man, hung his hammock next to m
ine. We were the only passengers not from Colombia or Peru.