Wednesday 11th July
5 am tuk tuk to the ferry. We stopped at a petrol station and the driver asked me for 1 sole which I thought he was asking for on top of the 2 sole fare and having been very ripped off lately I got a bit funny. I then realized he just needed my fare to pay for the fuel as he had no money - felt pretty bad! Now this so called fast boat was not the Miami Vice type that gets you to Cuba in an hour but it was pretty nippy and I definitely booked the best one as it has life jackets and was not taking on water! I met a German guy Richard on the boat and we set off at sunrise up the Amazon bouncing away to terrible (I mean Eurovision Song Contest entry music!) attempting to sleep whilst the locals held who can shout the loudest competitions over the engine noise. Every couple of hours the engine cut out and they refueled (this thing was going through a lot of fuel) and then after lunch we hit a storm and I wish it had not been such a fast boat. Coming down on the waves that had whipped up was like hitting concrete but seeing a dolphin jumping out of the water totally made up for that! We stopped for a rather weird police checkpoint where everyone got off on the bank of the river and then got back on again (for no apparent reason) whilst I kept a tight watch on the little kids trying to clamber in through the window of the boat! There was a cargo boat much the same as the one I had enquired about yesterday docked there also. We arrived at the tri-border (Santa Rosa, Peru/ Leticia, Colombia/ Tabatinga, Brazil), rather shaken but not stirred after the so called 8 hour fast trip that took 11 hours and a guy at the dock showed us where to go to get police checked and our passports stamped. We then realized he was trying to get us to his hotel in Leticia and sell us a tour and he took a bit to get rid of, especially as he was being so nice. He got us a taxi which then did a drive through at a money changers and went to Hostal Delfines. The noise from the birds and the crickets was unbelievable. It's so nice to be back in the jungle! We thought we would go and get some dinner in Brazil, just because we can. The only way you could really see it was a border was because the moped riders ripped off their helmets as they went into Brazil (there is a huge fine for not wearing one in Colombia). Ordering one thing and getting another seemed to be the form for the evening. We ended up leaving the restaurant after eating because all they had to drink (despite an extensive menu!) was coke and beer, and then they ran out of coke! We tried our luck back across the border in Leticia at an impressive looking bar (with silent football on one screen and music videos on the other - fantastic idea!) where all the couples were facing in opposite directions. Despite an extensive array of bottles behind the bar, the waiter just kept saying 'Ron'. We couldn't seem to get him to make up any drinks so resigned ourselves to ordering beer - seeing as that was what everyone else was drinking. Then he comes back carrying a tray with a bottle of rum on it!?! We just coudln't work out how that happened - dos cerveza equals ron I mean my spanish isn't that bad?!?! Personally I think it was gringo scam, refusing to understand anything they order and bring them the most expensive bottle you can find - three pounds that is!
Thursday 12th July
Early walk down to the airport to get my Colombia entry stamp and book a flight to Bogota, unfortunately for tomorrow as todays was full. There is a huge amount of military here, but I still find it strange that they have no problems. The taxi driver welcomed us yesterday with "welcome to our little land of peace" and it seems to be so. Had an empanada breakfast and a little wander around Leticia - so nice not to be hassled on every corner, so different from Cusco. Spent the day lazing in a hammock reading then went out with Richard for some food. He has booked a 6 day tour into the jungle with a private guide and is hoping to see big cats, shame I am not staying around to see more.
Friday 13th July
Lovely landlady calls me a taxi and says its 5000, I get to the airport and he wants 8000. Unfortunately dont have change so get frog marched to a little shop to buy some food so he can take the change off me.....ok maybe it's not a Peru problem! Fantastic views over the Amazon as we headed North. Made me really appreciate just how much of Colombia is untouched Amazon without so much as a dirt track through it. Only about half an hour before Bogota did the land start to clear. Jumped straight in a taxi to the bus station...great system of getting a taxi destination cost receipt from an office before getting in the cab. Got laughed at again when I asked if there was food on the bus, have to stop doing that...I am not in Argentina any more! I had forgotten how great the bakeries were in Colombia though so stocked up on fruit cakes and buns. Saw a big thunder storm in the distance as we headed to the coast and it just dawned on me that its rainy season, oh and running into hurricane season....did I think this through? Well at least its warm, that it apart from on the bus where I am pummeled with a full force blast of refrigerated damp air all night!