Monday, 12 August 2013

Week 2

In the morning we slipped off with the Apu unhappy with our meagre donation of school supplies. Saw a deer swimming across the river (at this point it was some 1 km wide. The deer probably scared by predators or hunters. Hard rain paddle in the morning and we pulled in to a traditional village (Sumac Allpa). Stayed in the friendly Apu’s (headmans) cousins house which was a raised platform with a thatched roof for protection from the rain. Very comfortable – Lorenzo commented that his Tikuna community has had much more contact with ‘white people’ but that the children in these communities are so fascinated by our presence – an indication of the isolation of the region. Cooked chips and Mandioca chips and in the morning just managed to clear out as the owner of the house and his family turned up – traded a night’s stay for a gallon of fuel. Although Lorenzo got up some 10 times in the night to shoo away the buffalo they managed to eat our bananas off the front of the boat. Drifting through huge bends in the river to aim fro Santa Clotilde – a larger town.

Santa Clotilde is a large and rather well organised town – we booked in to a rather simple hotel and ate a full meal. Lorenzo had just gotten his appetite back and had nipped off to eat duck then a meal of chicken... restarted his stomach problems poor chap. In teh morning the guy we had hired tried to charge us 6 times the agreed price for guarding the boat and in retrospect looks like we lost some equipment including a funnel and fishing gear. Previously Lorenzo had slept on the boat.

Another hard day of paddling. Saw the largest pink river dolphin I have ever seen and it will stick in my memory. The pink river dolphins look very odd as they can swivel their necks and this monster of a dolphin came out to have a good look at us twice. We arrived in Bellavista about 5pm and waited for the President (we were out of indigenous territoru and in mestizo lands now) to return as we did not want a repeat of what had happened in Puerto Alvira. The village was full of children who carried our gear to teh school house life a group of leaf cutter ants with heavy loads on their shoulders. The village made its money by making aguardiente (firewater) and Sam went off to find some. He brought back the President who insisted we drink. I had already started to feel queasy and knew I might have stomach problems so held back a bit. In teh morning Sam found Juans passport and some money outside the school room. He had been robbed of money and his identify cards. Furious we talked to the president who suspected 2 kids who were always causing trouble. We need to be more alter in the chaos of kids running around. He promised to send the documents to the Colombian consulate in Iquitos if they turned up.

With a bad taste in the mouth and a nasty rumble in my stomach we headed off. I was dehydrated and needed rest in the boat. It was Friday and at Midday we motored to Mazan. Mazon is a loop in the Napo that connects to the Amazon by a mototaxi causeway – we left  the boat there and caught the last fast boat up to Iquitos. We plan to spend the weekend in Iquitos recovering as we are all exhausted and I am rather weak from dehydration. Started a course of ciprofloxacin in the hope that it is simply travelled belly. Concerns are that this is also a malarial region – in Bellavista there were recent cases.

Iquitos is the major gateway to Amazon tourism with a filthy waterfront but nice malecon (or boardwalk) and the tourist restaurants are pricey. Lots of tourists ready to experience the jungle lodges and Auyuhuasa (the local hallucinogenic used by shaman). Marcias birthday in 4 days so the treat for myself and her is a luxury hotel in the main Plaza – a great comfort after the 10 days in the wild! The rest of the team are also resting and relaxing although they took a trip to the local market to investigate the wild animal trade. They did not see any live animals (Sam had seen these a few years ago) but they found meat of red deer, land turtles, white-lipped peccary, white collared peccary, capybara, caiman, howler monkeys, coatis, and giant river turtles. I did not have the stomach for the market and Daniel also returned feeling queasy.
Planning to start again on Monday and should be some 8 days to Amacayacu National Park although it looks like we might have lowers flows and head winds to contend with.