Wow.... That was an amazing (and exhausting) few days. We spent the first night in Leticia which is a fairly scruffy town but we actually liked it. The place is full of energy. Despite having no roads into the town and being more than 500 miles from the nearest highway the streets are constantly full of tuk tuk's, motorbikes, cars and people. The noise is awesome, with or without the parrots. Fortunately our Airbnb was out in a quiet area so we slept well.
The next morning we were picked up by Sergio, our (very organized) tour operator
and taken to the public boat heading up river to Puerto Nariño, a distance of about seventy kilometers. The boat ride was an experience in itself. Firstly the river is incredibly wide even 1,500 miles from the river mouth. The boats are long and thin, like oversized canoes with huge outboards that travel at about 35kts while weaving through the floating logs that are a constant presence on the river.
Puerto Nariño is an interesting place. It has a population of about 4,000 but no vehicles at all, well, apart from a couple of community owned tractors. No cars, motorbikes, ATV's, not even bicycles. Everybody walks everywhere on reasonably well maintained concrete and brick paths. It makes for a very calm and safe place, with kids happily playing everywhere with no need for adult supervision. The atmosphere is wonderful. There is nearly always some kind of sport going on in the stadium. There are food stalls on the 'streets' and even where there are not food stalls people seem to pull their tables out and eat on the street anyway. There are a number of restaurants serving pretty simple food and lots of accommodation for the travellers that make it this far off the beaten track but the place does not feel overwhelmed by tourists.
I'm not going to give a blow by blow account or our experiences, in part because it is a bit of a blur and there are lots of Amazon tales online already. We spent some time walking in the jungle, both in the daytime and at night. They are having a lot of rain early in the wet season so mud was a dominant theme.... We spent a lot of time on the river and adjacent lakes in a small boat, both by day and by night. It was wonderful to see the extent of the forest and realize that it goes on for hundreds and perhaps more than a thousand miles in all directions.
The photos (here
) tell most of the story but we saw many things that my camera could not capture including many monkeys, pink dolphins, three toed sloths and many different birds. I do need to talk about the monkeys we interacted with. Normally I don't like these canned animal experiences but all the monkeys we came into contact with we're rescued, mainly by confiscation as illegal pets. They we're completely free to come and go as they pleased but had clearly decided they were on to a good thing and stayed around the rescue centers. They also seemed to love the interaction. The howler monkeys in particular were incredibly affectionate and actively solicited scratches and strokes.
We spent the last day in a Peruvian village where we had a really nice lunch of local fish and vegetables before heading back to Leticia on the high speed boat. Well, it was high speed until it ran out of fuel about five miles from Leticia. We enjoyed a locerly peaceful sunset, drifting down the Amazon, while we waited for some fuel to be delivered. Nobody seemed in the slightest perturbed by this. Perhaps it is a regular event but nobody in Colombia seems to get perturbed by anything. I just hope I can eventually cast off some of my 'first world' angst and learn to treat life the way people do here.