Oh Leticia, where to even begin!
I flew out of Bogota at noon yesterday, and I was soooo sleepy. I tried to sleep a bit on the plane but to no avail.. come on now, I looked out the window and saw nothing but trees upon trees and all these rivers. Suddenly one river was much more massive than the others and I knew. It was the Amazon. No sleeping, only giant smiles.
When I got off the plane it was at this tiny cute airport with the most ghetto of carousels. They put the wrong baggage on it and I was just all smiles and laughter. Chatted with a nice Colombian man and watched the doggie dogs sniff for drugs as they slowly figured out it was the wrong luggage and put the right stuff on the carousel. I was to call my couch surf host, but there was no phone at this little airport. SO I decided to just grab a cab and go to his place and.. hope!
Well I arrived and he wasn´t there. Still all smiles I looked around.. no way I was going to find a phone in this little housing complex. I thought for a moment and then I walked. 2 doors down the door was open, that´s when I met Pablo.
I went to his door and explained as best I could in Spanish that I needed a phone to call my friend. He told me that his daughter had just gone out for water but she would be back soon and I could use her phone. He invited me in and offered me some fish. He was cooking and the kitchen was full of fish heads, the house reeking of fishies.
Then Pablo played me a song on the guitar and sang. Did I mention Pablo was a large middle aged man? Ya, he was pretty awesome. So I chilled with him and eventually it was lunch time. 2 chicks and 2 dudes joined us, I´m not sure if they were biologically his family, I´m sure they weren’t all, but he called them his family. I felt so amazing – here was this random man whose house I had stumbled into, just greeting me with such joy, feeding me and welcoming me into his family. He and the others were just so kind hearted and lovely.
I had called Vladimir, my couch surfing bud, and he wasn’t off work until 8. So, after our lovely late lunch Pablo and I went for a couple of beers. Just wonderful.
Today, however, managed to beat the glory that was yesterday.
Vladimir worked until noon so I went to explore the small city alone for a few hours. I went straight to the river.. my very first view of the Amazon river. Now remember, it’s the rainy season, so the water is very high. Where there is usually a road, it was full of water. There were planks of wood at the side, so I started walking on them to get across… until I noticed several men were building more planks.. I couldn’t walk any further! Most people were in canoes, and this was a REALLY short distance.. a few men were in the water.. so I hopped right in! Immediately one man who had been explaining to me that I couldn´t walk further exclaimed happily, “La gringa en el agua!” (white girl in the water!) and a bunch of people cheered! I was nothing but smiles as I crossed over. When I walked back, again, the same man exclaimed, “La gringa!” It was fantastic. People here are so kindhearted.
Later, I sat on the teeniest of bridges looking at what looked to be giant lily pads. Some school boys came along and the oldest, who was 18, chatted with me (well, at least we tried our best to communicate!). Finally, I called Vladimir to meet up for lunch.
He arrived on his motorcycle and… it was time guys. I road a motorcycle for the first time in my life. It should be noted it is encouraged to NOT hold on. I saw one guy riding on the back of a motorcycle carrying a TV. INSANITY. Anyway, we went to a vegetarian restaurant with a friend of Vladimir´s, and then Vladimir took me to Tabatinga. Tabatinga is a small town that is about 10 minutes away from Leticia. And.. it´s in Brazil. I bought my ticket for my boat to Iquitos on Wednesday, and then we went to Santa Rosa (a 5 minute boat ride across the river) to stamp my passport into Peru, as my boat to Iquitos goes too early to do so.
SO this means today I was in 3 countries, and 2 timezones! INSANITY!!
Santa Rosa was both beautiful and tragic at once. I was mesmerized. As I said, it is the wet season, and the river is very high. I guess it’s higher than it has been in years.. some houses were almost completely underwater. And the water level continues to rise. It looked serene, beautiful, but then suddenly came the awareness that people there had lost their homes to this.
After getting my passport stamped (err so technically, according to my passport, I’m in Peru right now..) Vladimir and I went to get a couple beers.
He has to work again tonight, so here I am at an internet cafe typing these words as I wait for it to be a bit later so I can go make some friends at the bar.
More to come soon my lovelies! Peace out!