Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Monday, June 09, 2008

travel update from Tarapoto

Greetings from Tarapoto. Tarapoto is a city in the amazon basin of Peru. I have been here for 3 nights now. I will probably stay until Friday or Saturday the 11th or 12th of June.
I left Pucallpa and took a lancha to Iquitos. a lancha is a boat that is rather large for river travel. It mainly Carry's cargo but also takes some passengers. the journey was supposed to take 3 days. we were to leave on Monday and arrive early Thursday on a lancha called Tuky.(we left on time but we arrived mid day on Saturday, a day and a half late). I was in second class hammock deck which is middle of the cost scale. first class are the camarotes which are little jail cell like rooms with 2 bunks. these guys get better food and are able to lock up their stuff. Second class hammock (where I was) is on a Deck that is much less crowded than 3rd class hammock. you have to bring your own hammock and there is no privacy or anywhere to stow your gear. there were myself an Englishman named Jason a young Dutch couple and a young Belgian couple. Also there were some people who came and went but didn't do the whole journey. An English man who was with us the first 18 hours and a few Peruanos. In 3rd class hammock, it was all Peruanos and so crowded they were like sardines. One must always be very careful on the river boats because they have a bad reputation for you getting your stuff ripped off. We all agreed that one of us would always stay below with our stuff while the rest of us would go up on the observation deck so all our stuff was always safe.
The crew were really friendly and nice to us. There was a 12 year old Colombian boy called junior who has been adopted by the crew and has been on the boat for 6 years. he is an orphan. he has a good life on the boat and he is very friendly. he had us help him to practice his English and his reading and writing and arithmetic. He has never been to school. There was a very flamboyant gay guy who was in charge of the food. He was very annoying and not friendly at all. the food...well it was just like Momma used to make...when she worked at the PRISON FARM!!!! I mean it really REALLY sucked. Fortunately the boat stopped frequently at little villages along the way to load and un load cargo and lots of women and kids would come on board selling everything from fruits to fish and candys and cakes and breads and all other kinds of stuff. We all brought our own drinking water as there was no fresh water available on board except for river water.
the cruise was on a whole, very tranquil and relaxing. i borrowed a good book called "conversations with god" and read it. very interesting. I recommend it if you believe in god but not in the bible. it explains a lot of the contradictions in a way that makes sense. very enlightened approach.
saw LOTS of fresh water dolphins. pink ones and grey ones. some nice bird life and not much else in the way of nature watching.i like river cruises anyway but the dolphins made the trip worth while for me. the boat was quiet and not full of toxic diesel fumes like the boat i took down the Danube river to the black sea. very enjoyable if you aren't in a hurry, and I never am. That being said, I was glad to finally arrive in Iquitos.
Iquitos is a city of about half a million people. it is on the shore of the amazon river.it is the largest city not accessible by road in the world. the only way in or out is to fly or to take a boat. The only reason to fly is if you are in a hurry or just on a vacation. No real traveller would take this option. If you were not sure if you are a traveler or a tourist, well now you know.
I had a lovely stay in Iquitos. stayed in a cool place called Hobo Hideout. Jimmy was the owner and his wife Sandra. Jimmy is a very, oh how shall I say, "Unique" person. Like staying in Ernest Hemingway's hostel!!! I liked him and his place and recommend it to any traveller who wants to go to Iquitos.
Iquitos is very friendly not a tourist trap not a place where they always hassle you to buy stuff. very laid back very pretty. great fun at night. A great cornice they call the boulevard along the river with lots of free street entertainers. Dancers, jugglers, clowns on stilts, singing good street food and snack stuff too. Many opportunity's to go out into the jungle and collect mosquito bites and lifetime experiences. I saw lots of cool animals. lots of butterflies, birds, a jaguar, tapirs, sloths many kinds of monkeys and other stuff. after 9 days i took another boat to Yurimaguas.
This only had two classes hammock or cammarote, no option as all the carmarotes were booked, so I took a very crowded spot in the Hammock space about 200 people and me and a french guy were the only two gringos. I didn't think the food could be worse, but I was wrong. ahhh what the hey, it was only 3 days!! Mainly I ate rice spaghetti and fruits that I bought in Iqitos or along the way. More dolphins and an all around good cruise. i got friendly with the captain and he left me lock up my backpack in his camarote and so I got a lot of freedom to move around without having to guard my stuff. After 3 days i arrived in Yurimaguas.
I got an immediate bad vibe from a moto tuk tuk who wouldn't take me to the hotel i asked for and took me somewhere else instead. I made him take me to the plaza de armas and he wanted to charge me for two rides instead of one. I told him to fuck off in my best Spanish. The receptionist at Leos Place, where I stayed was a bitch from Hell who wouldn't look at me or speak except for si, no and no se. Hell with that. I left after one night and now I am in tarapoto.
This is a good city. I will stay until friday 13 june and I will go to the free clinic and get a yellow fever vaccine so I can go to Brazil. When I was in south America the last time, in 2005, Americans were allowed to enter every country here for free. Now many of the countries have imposed strict sanctions and expensive visa fees on us because of the Bush/Chaney policies. It now costs an American 130 dollars to enter Brazil. They also want to fingerprint me. i need a yellow fever vaccine (this is not new) so...just another non benefit of being from USA.
USA used to be the most loved and respected country in the world. Not anymore my friends, not anymore by a long shot! We have a terrible reputation as a war monger. We are credited with supplying all kinds of brutal regimes with all kinds of weapons of mass destruction. And our "war on terrorism" is seen by almost everyone I meet who isn't American as a thinly veiled excuse for imperialism and neo-colonialism. It sucks to travel during an election year. I had this same problem in 2004. Everyone wants to dump their negative opinions on America and American government and American people on you. Our government these last 8 years is the worst thing that has happened to the world and our reputation since Nixon and Viet Nam war. me? I vote with my feet. I tell them, hey i left!
Here are a couple of quotes to think about until my next update. Peace and love to all of you

"As the same fire assumes different shapes When it consumes objects differing in shape, So does the one Self take the shape Of every creature in whom he is present."
Marcus Aurelius
"The past is a ghost, the future a dream, and all we ever have is now." Bill Cosby


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