on board the Eduardo IV
14.11.2009 - 17.11.2009 90 °F
The boat slowly moves northeast, chugging along on it´s typical weekly routine. Yurimagas to Iquitos is as standard as it gets around these parts with multiple boats leaving everyday from the Yurimagas port. Our boat was named Edwardo IV with brothers all over as i´m assuming Eduardo 1-III are also somewhere on this river. Eduardo´s main purpose is a cargo ship, transporting goods like eggs, livestock, and bananas to places only boats can reach like Iquitos. All of the these goods are tightly loaded and packed into the first deck, a process that took all morning and well into the late afternoon as the departure time changed from noon to 5pm. It truly is remarkable how much stuff can fit on a cargo boat. The rest of the boat, decks 2-3 are for passengers where people upon buying their tickets technically purchase hammock space on board. You tie your hammock on the long metal poles running lengthwise, between the life preservers. The decks quickly become crowded as every inch of space is taken up by an ecclectic assortment of hammock patterns. They blend together in a tacky hanging mess. The boat is surprisingly steady without the rocking back and forth one finds out on sea, the Eduardo is too wide to feel the Amazon currents and so the boat chugs down river peacefully.
The water is thick, silty thick with long brown legs that make you feel like you are floating in a milk chocolate river like in Willie Wonka as the oppressively hot air looms overhead making you feel lethargic at all hours of the day. At only 8am, i can already feel the sweat beading up on my forehead and any clothing left to cling my damp body. Lethargic' yes, this is what one feels floating on the Amazon river. It surrounds everyone and all you can do is swing yourself silly on a hammock watching the river go by. There are few things to do on board by far the most exciting moment of the day is meal time. At 7am, noon, and 7pm long lines begin to form on the 2nd deck, leaving you to finally leave the place you´ve been sweating at to grab your bowl and dash downstairs to get into the food action. A bowl or pan, water bottles cut in half, pitchers- you name it, everything was used as a food recepticle. In front of the line is where you find the man in charge of the food, a grumpy sailor who looks serious as he decides if you eat or not. Your ticket gets you 3 solid meals, extremelly large portions where most of it was dumped into the river. You don´t want to get this man on your bad side so it´s best to just smile and keep moving. Adam touched one of the hard boiled eggs he had next to him and was screamed at as eggs are extra goods costing a whopping 1 sol for an egg. The morning meal consists of bread and a miaze based hot chocolate, lunch chicken and rice, dinner noodles and meat. After 3 days on board, we were all craving fruit and perhaps a cold beer.
Past times on the boat were spent either swinging on your hammock, sweating, playing cards, reading, waiting to eat, and mostly just sitting watching the chocolate river roll by.
Day 3 on the boat- The air continues to become thicker the deeper we continue on this muddy river with the bugs following suit. Last night we were swarmed by large black beetles from every direction. I´m assuming they are lured by the lights of the boat but if you find yourself on deck, you found yourself being pelted by beetles. Along with the beetles there were dozen of varieties of moths and wasp looking bugs that found themselves into the sinks, toilets, hammocks, and crunched on the floor. The river seems cleaner the closer we get to Iquitos, sadly the amount of inka cola bottles and styrofoam containers sailing alongside on this river is tremendously sad. The boat docked around 7 this morning in Nauta, where everyone left the boat except the gringos travelling to Iquitos. Funny how we have been on this boat for days but it wasn´t until our last morning that we finally talked to our fellow backpackers. On board with us were two hard core Israeli girls fresh from being commanders in the army, three petite French girls who couldn´t have contrasted more with the Israeli girls, and a girl from Sweden whom i befriended days ago. She had just finished volunteering for 6 months at a camp in Nicaragua and spent the days arranging activities for the children on the boat. I learned how to make half a wing of a macrame butterfly before getting hit by lethargic winds and needed to sleep for an hour afterwards.
The clothes i donned on 3 days ago were still on me. Sweaty does not begin to describe the state of my clothing and body. I´m looking forward to taking a cold shower and drinking an ice cold beer in Iquitos!!