Goodbye to the Amazing Amazon
Today it was time to leave our cabaña and take the 2 hour boat ride back to Leticia, Colombia and civilization or what passes for it in these neck of the woods. After 3 days of muddy, sweaty togetherness sharing a small and now thoroughly filthy cabaña with 2 other bunk mates, it’s not a moment too soon (no maid service in our Amazon adventure).
The only thing I could think of was how luxurious the non air conditioned private room I’d have at the hotel in Leticia that night. This was the same hotel that on the way in just a few days earlier I thought was a dump and the worst of the trip so far. Nothing like a few days in the Amazon to change your perspective on the little comforts of life.
I’d gotten up early to grab breakfast. Eggs and bread.. again. But this time they had coffee so I was in heaven.
We returned back to the cabaña to pack and say good bye to the now very smelly lean place that served as our shower and bathroom and the clammy sheets and mosquito netting on the bunk beds. A little less enthusiastically I bid goodbye to our new animal friends; the guard dog Sasha, the parrot, the duck, the two constantly masturbating monkeys and most fondly, the baby owl, Babbah Boohey.
Bidding goodbye to our guide, Witman, was equally bitter sweet. Witman was a real trooper, never failing in his duty and always looking out for us without smothering us or pestering us for a tip or to spend money or anything.
In fact, the first thing I noticed about the people of the Amazon is their lack of assertiveness when it comes to money. It just doesn’t seem that important to them. Rarely if ever did they try to sell us anything and if we chose to buy something we had to ask the price and make the first move. After Cartagena that was a refreshing change.
The people of the Amazon were sweet and humble and while some lived hard lives they seemed not the least bit hardened by their experience. Instead, they happily went about their business in a friendly but much understated manner.
The kids are the ones I’m mostly going to miss… the shy but beaming kids. Little guys and girls of various ages, living in paradise and not realizing it. A plastic grocery bag on a string for a kite? Fun for hours. An empty plastic bottle to kick? Just as good as a soccer ball. Kids are simple and these kids were simply happy to be alive it seemed.
I hope that when they grow up they can continue the tradition of their ancestors, but I’d be selfish and hypocritical if I didn’t also wish for them some degree of comforts of the modern age. Air conditioning, a more diverse diet, a movie every now and then, decent web access, nothing culture killing mind you, just some creature comforts because I’m telling you life in the Amazon can be really hard.
When we arrived to the port of Leticia I felt like we’d reached Manhattan. Cars and motorcycles! I had forgotten what they looked and sounded like, and of course that wasn’t such a bad thing but I’d be lying if I pretended I wasn’t glad to be back to a decent sized town where I could somewhat choose my food and finally check my email.
It was Monday night and we’d vainly searched for Monday Night Football to see the Giants play anywhere in town. We finally gave up and ventured over to the Brazilian side of the border to Tabatinga. The vibe was decidedly more gritty, and maybe just a wee less safe. When we crossed the border to Brasil (no passport required) almost as on cue, the lights to the city went out.
As I said it was Monday night and there wasn’t much happening on either the Colombian or Brazilian side of the border so we headed back to the Colombian side and called it an early night. I had no problems sleeping and looked forward to being in a major city (Bogota) tomorrow, to finish up the shoot and look at some dailies with the guys.
And while I was glad to be back in “civilization”, there is a slight pang of regret when I think that I may never see my friend Babbah Boohey or my other new Amazonian friends again.