Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Boat from Pucallpa to Iquitos - Part Two

From the moment we started talking with them and answering all their questions, it was a friendship quickly kindled. They helped us with the routines of the boat, how it operated, explained what all the exotic foods where and despite being incredibly poor, offered and shared everything with us. It was a true pleasure.

The boat itself was an adventure all together. In the hold where we were, the capacity was pushed way beyond the max. Hammocks, mattresses and tents are everywhere. After four days even your own body odor starts getting to you only it isn´t just yours, it is every ones and we all share in it.

Three times a day our chef on the boat (who Eric and I have concluded is a cross dresser) dings his wooded spoon on a bell signaling the soup´s on, literally. The meals are on par with what one might imagine prison food to be but with a little more seasoning and a mind set based on substance not on looks or taste. We hold on to tickets that are required to receive your food and upon the ding, the masses drop whatever they are doing, grab their food containers and form a line from one end of the boat to the other.

Everyone had brought on board Tupperware bowls or buckets to have their food served in. Prior to the boat´s departure, numerous women were going around selling Tupperware to people. We couldn´t figure out why. Only after receiving our first meal did we realize how essential lids were for not spilling. Our plastic, foldable REI bowls don´t insulate against heat and we struggled routinely to maneuver through the mazes of hammocks back to our own as quick as possible, spilling our food and scalding our hands over the hot dishes.

Sanitation is non-existent. Dirt is everywhere as is trash. We both found it a bit shocking to observe that most food and garbage is tossed overboard into the river. There is no concept of pollution or the consequences of it. We learned that historically, all their needs were met from things in the jungle so when you finished eating something, you would throw it into the river. This tradition hasn´t mixed well with the introduction of products from first world nations contained in plastics, wrappings and packaging. They don´t realize the difference between organic and inorganic. Here it is the mind set of out of sight out of mind. Only it isn´t out of sight. It can be seen, floating down the river in the Amazon Basin.

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