The three of us, certainly played our parts in creating a diverse trio. The men, 45 and 28, Spanish and Australian, and our French friend. For the first two days we also had with us Nixon and a friend of his, to navigate the first part of the river.
It was exciting for sure. In the days there was much to look at, in the evenings, incredible sunsets, and the night, many mosquitos.
After two days, Nixon and his counterpart left and so there was three. During the time that followed, we were to meet some amazing people. Each night, we would stop in front of a little house or village and ask permission to stay the night in our boat there.
It seemed as thought it was very unusual for these people, maybe even the first time for some, to see Gringos travelling through, or even to see Gringos. We would arrive, and soon there would be a swarm of locals around us. At times the whole village. Often, we were invited into the houses of locals where we would take our mosquito nets and mats and spend the night. At one house, we stayed for two nights, and we were fed every meal of each day. The food, all fresh off the land or fish from the river. I was fed pirana for breakfast one morning. For one lunch, we ate Armadillo soup which was caught in a trap the unsuspecting creature had made it's way into it. We watched as the the woman chopped it into pieces and prepared it with expertise.
We met a lot of locals along the way, all were friendly, and all completely different experiences. We hit a few sandbanks (that turned out to be Cristobals specialty). Everyone had their jobs on the boat, and although not always, most of the time things worked smoothly.
During one of my driving shifts, I hit a log which snapped off our propeller. We didn't have another bolt to attach the spare propeller. At times it had been hours without another passing boat. We were lucky, as a transport boat had stopped within five minutes for the three waving gringos. The captain attached our propellor with rope, and pointed us in the direction of the next village.
Soon, we were having our motor fixed, the whole village watching on, and again we were invited to stay in a house. This night, the boss of the village, had a man watch out boat for the whole night to make sure it wasn't stolen.
After ten or eleven tiring days of Trucutu fighting the strong currents, and nights of the three of us fending off mosquitos, we reached a town Santa Cratilda, about half to the Ecuadorian border. Sadly, a decision was made to sell everything, and take a fast boat back to Iquitos. We sold the rest of our fuel, and whatever equipment we had purchased for the boat. We had an announcement projected through the loudspeakers of this little town that Trucutu was for sale.
By a great coincidence, Cristobal bumped into the man who had attached our propeller with rope, and he invited us to tie our boat next to his. He had a big old wooden boat, which was starting to deteriorate, and told us that we were able to stay in it. We got to drinking with him and his friends. Our heaviest drinking session for quite some time. We ended up in a locals house once again and then made our way back the boat similar to an old pirate ship. Still we had a beer or two left, and so we thought it fitting to have a little farewell drink with our good friend Trucutu.
Drinks progressed into dancing in Trucu, and dancing turned into the most almighty food fight i've ever witnessed. I would say it lasted for the best part of 45 mins, and didn't poor Trucu look destroyed. Through trucu, was scattered about 5 kg's of rice, powdered soup packets, olive oil, soy sauce, noddles, tinned ham, jam, tomato paste, honey, shampoo, asparagus and whatever else was found by searching hands in the darkness, inhibited by burning honey and shampooed filled eyes. Cristobal managed to be in the middle of the two boats as they drifted apart, with his legs on one, hands on the other, struggling desperately to hold the two together. Alison and I watched on with hope and this hope was turned into reality when Cristobal couldn't hold on anymore and ended up In the river.
In the morning, when the first man arrived to look at the boat, I would say that he was surprised when a shirtless Australian who had just awoken, with some sort of soup/soy sauce combination covering the left side of his face was the salesman. I told him we needed an hour or so, and climbed aboard Trucutu as he peered around trying to make something out of the monstrosity. We set to cleaning the boat from the atrocious state it was in, and by night, we had a buyer, a good elderly local man. This meant that after one more night on the pirate ship, that we could take the early boat and be back in Iquitos by lunch the day following. Being that it was more about the journey and adventure rather than the destination, noone was upset by the fact that we hadn't reached the border. And by this time we were all a feeling fairly tired.
The next day, and all worked out well. By the afternoon, Alison was waving Cristobal and I goodbye on our 3 day boat to Yurimaguas, which was the boat I had originally planned to take. This boat was definitely less chaotic than the first slow boat. Cristobal and I saw many of the pink dolphins of the Amazon, enjoyed some good nights sleep and awfully bad food provided by some very gay and smiling chefs.