|Leticia, Colombia, and going down the Solimoes River, Brazil slideshow|
The downpour that started while I waited for my luggage at the baggage claim added drama and excitement to my arrival, cooling the air and drying the sweat off my body. I even had to dig the black jacket out of my luggage, for the first time in a month. Then I unzipped the hood to protect my head and walked out the airport in the pouring rain to catch a taxi to my hostel.
The Mahatu Jungle Hostel is a small cozy place with a kitchen, and a sweet garden in the back with trees. hammocks, birds and a fun owner - Gustavo. I used one of the two bicycles available to do all my errands and get ready for the four day boat trip to Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas in Brazil. I went to the post office and sent the rest of my winter clothes and sleeping bag to my mother's home, bought my boat ticket, a hammock and ropes from the market. The hammock was going to be my bed for four nights. The boat left the next day, September 26th, from Tabatinga, just a couple of miles away on the Brazilian side of the border with Colombia.
The following morning Gustavo and I got on bikes again and went to the local market to buy fruit for my boat trip. He also got us a snack to eat with coffee - larvae! I was a little resistant getting my first bite, but after I tasted it, I asked for seconds. Eatable larvae has 55% fat and 25% fat and it is commonly eaten by Indigenous people. I must say it went down very well with a nice dark cup of Colombian coffee.
The Voyager IV was a very nice boat and a lot less crowded than I imagined the trip would be. I was in a group of about ten foreign travelers with hammocks clustered together in the central area of the boat. Surprisingly, the days went by very quickly, in a sort of routine of mostly hanging out at our hammocks either reading or sleeping, getting up for meals, sunrises and sunsets. Most of what we saw for four days was water, water, water and sometimes we were close enough to the shore to see trees. The boat occasionally stopped at small towns along the river to pick up or drop off people. In the evenings, we would play cards, drink a beer and watch the news or a soap opera on a satellite TV on the boat. Hanging out at the deck upstairs to watch the stars and feel the soft breeze of the evening was also a favorite evening activity. The daily showers before bed/hammock time, refreshed us for another night. Late nights and early mornings were usually breezy and chilly.