Fat Dog goes walkabout.


tambopata_1026_3660.jpgAfter all the people I had been doing volunteer work had left Quito I meant to leave to go and learn Spanish in Baños.  However I bumped into a friend from Colombia and ended up staying there far longer than I had intended getting drunk.  Something which seems to have become a recurring theme in my travels of S America.   Eventually after a little run-in with the police I decided it was time to start moving again.

We left Quito headed towards Laguna Quilotoa, a huge turquoise lake in a volcanic crater at about 4500m.  We decided to stay up there and thought we would be nice and cosy and warm as the place we were staying in had a fireplace.  Unfortunately we didn't take into account the fact that there was virtually no wood and non-functioning chimney.  The wood burnt just long enough to completely fill our bedroom with smoke so it looked like a sauna but still felt like a fridge. 

The next day we moved on to Baños a little town full of volcanic hot baths nestled in the middle of lots of waterfalls. I meant to stay there for a few days having Spanish lessons. Instead I ended up staying there for a week getting drunk – strange but true.  We decided to go on a long bike ride while we were there but through a brilliant feat of planning managed to take only $1.00 with us.  This meant that we could only afford one bottle of water between us.  It also meant I didn't cross the longest cable car in Ecuador to not see the most beautiful waterfalls in Ecuador.

After we left Baños we went to another couple of towns on the coast where oddly enough I got drunk and spent far more time than I had intended. From here we went to a little colonial town in the South of Ecuador called Cuenca.  The day before I was due to leave Cuenca to cross the border into Peru I decided that it would be a good idea to put all my stuff, including my passport, into the laundry.    The next day we set out on a 28 hr bus ride to Peru where I had arranged to meet some people from the UK.  Unfortunately when we got to the Peruvian border the guard didn't seem to appreciate how clean my passport and was more concerned about the fact that I no longer had an entry stamp and that it was falling to bits.  Eventually I managed to convince him that he wanted to let me into his country and he gave me a 10-day visa to
go get a new passport.

We stayed in a little beach town in the north of Peru for about 3 days getting stoned and looking at ruins and then moved on to Lima so that I could get a new passport.  In Lima we booked a coach to a place called Yurimaguas from where you can get boats up one of the tributaries of the Amazon to a town called Iquitos. Iquitos is the largest town in the Amazon basin without any external road links.  The journey to Yurimaguas was meant to take 30-36 hours, which I wasn't looking forward to an incredible amount as I had screwed my back up in Lima.  Once we had been sitting on the coach for about 2 hours we realized that the driver seemed to think it was good to stop as often as possible.  Imagine how happy I was the next day when we got 3 flat tyres.  Eventually after about 40 hours we got to what we thought was the end of our journey.  The coach company seemed to sense how sad we were at finishing our trip and told us that everything was OK as this wasn't the end of our trip at all and that we were going to have to wait another 3 hours for a bus that would take at
least another 6 hours.  We decided we couldn't be bothered to wait that long and took a combi. The combi turned out to be far worse than the bus.

I thought that the tiny amount of space I had in the combi would be just about bearable.  However, about 5 minutes before we were about to leave it turned out that the driver seemed to think that the space that I was sitting in was actually meant for 4 people and not 1.  Peruvians are small but nowhere near as small as the person who designed those buses seems to think. Eventually after about 48 hours we arrived in Yurimaguas and went down to look at the boats.  Two of the people I was with didn't like the look of them and decided that they were going to fly which meant that it was just
Quilty Fishbulb and me on the boat.  After managing to delay our trip by a day by completely sleeping through the daylight hours Fishbulb and I purchased tickets.  The next day we woke up bright and early to get good spaces for our hammocks.  After having a fight for about 1/2 hour with a dog that had stolen one of my trainers we arrived at the boat.  I didn't sleep incredibly well on the first night as one of our newly made Peruvian "friends" (who later robbed my credit card and traveller's cheques) kept waking me up every 1/2 hour to say "Hay, my friend, que tal?" or to offer
me some of our rum which he was drinking.  Early the next morning the boat stopped of at a little jungle village called Lagunas and a German tourist left the boat as intended to go into the jungle from there.  A minute or so after we had landed the village erupted into fighting.  Our boat tried to leave but the locals detached our speedboat from the side of our boat. Our boat went back a little further down the shore to where they had dragged our speedboat and some Peruvian men got off to try and retrieve it.  People were throwing logs and mud at each other and hitting each other with belts but eventually they managed to get the speedboat back and leave.  The German guy was left there though so I hope
that he was OK.

Different people told me different reasons why this mini uprising had occurred.  It was something political but noone seemed sure exactly what. One person told me they had kidnapped 3 people in the village and another said was that it was because they didn't want trade and cheaper goods from other parts of the Amazon.  For them, I suppose, our boat is the face of globalization.  The next couple of days on the boat were spent chilling in hammocks, watching little villages go by, drinking some horrible moonshine and being woken up by the cockerel that the person 2 hammocks away from me
had in their basket.  When we woke up on the last day we discovered that a thief had been round and stolen a few things.  I managed to get away with nothing stolen as I was quite restless during the night.  Unfortunately Quilty Fishbulb has his only pair of shoes stolen which was quite bad but also quite funny for me. I spent the rest of the afternoon until we arrived in Iquitos playing with a baby tiger we had found on the boat.

When we got off the boat I felt reasonably ill.  Probably a combination of drinking dirty moonshine, very little sleep and virtually no food – the vegetarian selection on the boat wasn't amazing.  The food tended to be some kind of soup or goo made from Amazon River water and chicken most days.  I slept well that night and was intending to do the same the next
night.  Unfortunately I got slightly drunk in the British Consulate and ran into a chap called Doctor Jack. Doctor Jack is  a chiropractor and offered to try and sort my back out.  He laid me down on a table and in the process of pulling me about broke the table getting us both thrown out of the Consulate.  He then offered to take me out on the town.  By about 8:00 in the morning I was starting to feel quite ill again but every time I told him that I was going to bed he would give me some kind of magical white powder to keep me awake.  About 10:00 in the morning we were wondering around a market in a shantytown somewhere when someone robbed Doctor Jack and a group of Peruvians helped us chase them to the police station.  Soon after arriving at the police station a realized that I was
going to have to sit there wired off my face with about 10 police officers scrutinizing me while 101 reports were filled out – definitely one of the least pleasant experiences of my trip. 

We caught a flight back from Iquitos to Lima.  Oddly enough I stayed there a week when I had only planned to stay there a day.  The day before I left a kind Colombian man in my dormitory kindly relieved me of all of my valuable stuff: my gameboy, my sunglasses, my camera and my discman.  This was quite annoying but at least I don't have anything valuable to worry about anymore. 


More of Fat Dog's adventures here

Words by Fat Dog

Posted on Saturday, May 27, 2006 at 16:54 by Registered CommenterJam | CommentsPost a Comment