So, after a couple of days waiting in and around Iquitos we started our search for a boat to do our journey. We firstly got in one of the many Motokas (motor cars) (see picture) to the suggested dock. Greeted by the usual Peruvian attitude of "MY BOAT!! MY BOAT!!" Before someone told us that the boats we were after were in another dock, no trouble for the nimble Mototaxis. Here we found 2 boats going the way we wanted and both tomorrow. Not really knowing the when and more focusing on the how, we did a quick look and were going to decide on the morrow. With the help of iPeru we choose the Aquiles and to go with a cabin (didnt trust a single one of them)
Before we left we had half a day to spend, so we chose to go on a small boat journey accross the river to a butterfly farm. Although, the farm produced more then we had at first anticipated. As well as a butterfly breeding program, they had a voluteering program to help with a whole bunch of recued/recovered animals, much similar to what we did in Ecuador. We were greeted by an English speaking voluteer who guided through all the animals including a jaguar, an ocelot, red headed monkeys and a young sloth. Seeing as they didnt get the same money from volunteers as Sacha Yacu and the jaguar costs $1000 to feed a month, we were happy to spend the expensive entrance fee.
Before we loaded ourselves onto the boat with all our luggage, Ric had a near theft encounter. A man brushed past heavily when he clearly didnt need to, to wit Ric noticed and spotted his bag unzipped and his DS missing. A short firm "Give it back" yeilded no loss, but damn hasnt he proven what has been said from us about Peru.
With everything loaded we were set. In contrast to what all the books and sources have said about the upcoming 2-3 day journey, it wasnt actually that bad. There wasnt really a moment that could be described a boring. From our cabin window we had clear view of what was ahead as well as all the goings on with loading and unloading, what we didnt expect was there to be so much of it! We were delighted to see a cow come on board with us, a sort of guilty pleasure. As the boat chugged along we didnt expect to pull up at what appeared to be a random tree on the rivers edge, only to be greeted by a man standing next to another tied up cow! On it went, with a little difficulty as the bank was steep and cow playing dead. Brute force and a little of what appeared to be torture got the cow on.
And so it went for 2 days, every hour or 2 we would stop at a random tree with another random cow (sometimes 2) to be brought on to the boat. Almost every time this was a difficult task, with a whole slue of reasons, including steep banks, lazy/scared cow, boat slippery and best of all cow playing dead. They had to nearly drown a cow once to prove to it it wasnt dead. At the end of it all they had 30 in total. This proved to make quite an enjoyable spectacle, believe it or not and the days went quite quickly. We had little interaction with any one else on board (our Spanish being not quite conversational) apart from some children collected near the end who provided adequate conversation.
Unfortunately one of the cows didnt make the whole journey, but we were not surprised as they were not given any food or water and the cramped spacing meant there was a bit of trampling.
Thus we arrived at Tabatinga, of which there isnt much to say apart from it is more expensive and too large for its own good. There isnt much here and the officials are being too official.