miércoles, 19 de octubre de 2011

15 minutes on the Amazon

October 6-9 was the annual Great River Amazon Raft Race, held now for 13 consecutive years, the race is the longest of its kind. The beginning post is Nauta and the course traverses 180 kilometers to Iquitos, the largest city in the Amazon jungle of Peru (and notably the largest city on earth that cannot be accessed by road). There were a total of 46 teams, each with 4 participants, from across the globe. To describe this experience the word ordeal must be used. Arriving in the jungle, the first adjustment is heat, humid, tepid heat. Then, in the city, are the "mototaxis," as cars are not popular (lacking roads and all) the zooming mototaxis are everywhere. Going out into the jungle one hears an assortment of sounds: birds, insects, monkeys, everything is alive.
Here is my version of the events:
In preparation we had to secure the goods necessary for this event, the most important being lightweight paddles (they supply you will newly cut, but heavy paddles, not conducive for three days on the river). My team and I ended up in the markets of Belen, the floating city, and much behind in development and safety than the rest of town. Here, open sewers and outdoor barbershops line the streets. We made a friend who attached himself to us, somehow knowing exactly what we were there for. He took us across the river (my teammates named this "Rapeville"), to talk to a guy who "knows about paddles." Here we entered the mysterious paddle underground. We ended up meeting a very nice family, who supplied us with four suitable paddles of various sizes (our safety was never in question). The advantage to buying a used paddle is that a)this is what the people of the area use everyday, and b) they are properly "dried out" from use, and therefore lighter. After this, our new friend took us to "El Chino" for some plastic chairs (no one sits on wood logs for three days straight). Luckily, "El Chino," a good looking Chinese born immigrant with awesome tattoos, sold us the chairs at a reasonable price, and (to the amusement of his workers) cut the legs off for us...who needs legs on a raft? After buying some snacks, such as Oreos and "Granola Economica," we were ready for take off.
Day 1) We all met in the Plaza 28 de Julio in Iquitos, took a bus to Nauta (about 2 hours), to a welcoming ceremony held by the local municipality. Picture 200 gringos in a tent that also doubles as a microwave. From here they took us across the Maranon (the headwaters for the Amazon) to a mudflat area to build the rafts.

I know I am just getting started, but I am reaching the limit for anyone' s attention span, including my own, therefore...to be continued. But here's a link to keep your interest:

1 comentario:

Shay dijo...

Awesome Elke!
That looks and sounds like such an adventure.
I'm looking forward to hear the rest of this epic Amazon race story. It makes me want to something adventurous. I hope you are doing great and having fun.