A New Shipmate

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This blog entry about the events of Friday, December 05, 2003 was originally posted on December 08, 2003.

DAY 48: The sun broke through the river fog to reveal what I didn’t want to see: through my “first class” “window,” I saw that we still hadn’t left the port in Yurimaguas.

A man on deck said we’d probably leave in the afternoon.  I then realized that — although written in chaulk — the departure sign always said it was leaving “[For Iquitos Today at 5 p.m. Without Mistake.]”

I went back to bed feeling depressed:  What did I get myself into?  How can these people just wait like this?  An entire day?  Don’t you have places to go, things to do?  I felt like Tom Hanks’ character in Castaway, a guy so used to schedules suddenly put in a situation where schedules don’t exist.

Realizing that I probably didn’t have enough water to last me an extended stay on the ship, I used my extra time and went out to buy some since my water purifier got lost or stolen in the Galapagos.  I ignored the touts of “Hey chino!” (“Hey, Chinese guy!”) as I walked by.  I got my drinks and got back on the boat where Shady Tour Man had boarded.  I ignored him as well.


HOURS WENT BY.  I kept my sanity with a book and a soccer game on TV, US vs. Korea.  Things started picking up after noon, when more people got on board, including two young female backpackers together — one of which looked like the Swiss girl I met in Quito on Day 2.  I tried to start a conversation with them, but they brushed me off like I was a Shady Tour Man.  The Swiss Miss spoke perfect Spanish and said she was from Tarapoto.  I thought perhaps she was local after all.  They stayed in “economy.”

The boat started moving again around 1:30 and I thought it was another false alarm — until Yurimaguas’ port got farther and farther away.  We were finally on the Rio Huallaga en route to the Rio Marañon, en route to the Rio Amazonas.  We departed just 20 1/2 hours late, or 3 1/2 hours early, depending on your definition of “today.”  Coincidentally, the 80’s pop hit “Jungle Boy” came on the radio.


WE CRUISED DOWNSTREAM with nothing but Amazonian jungle surrounding us, except for the occasional collection of huts near the back or a group of people riding in a canoe.  The air got more humid, but the breeze caused by the ship’s forward motion helped keep cool.

There was another young man who looked confused in the “first class” room.  he name was Jean-Pierre, and he was a theology student from Lima, traveling to Iquitos to visit some friends.  He was patient enough to understand my broken Spanish and we talked on deck about this and that.

I took a nap, but was awaken by the sounds of rumbling outside.  We were nearing a storm which we saw in the distance coming towards us like a swarm of bees.  Suddenly we were caught in the downpour — putting the “rain” in “rainforest” — complete with thunder and lightning.  Everyone took cover inside; everyone but the cargo guys who tried to keep the tarps from flying away.

Jean-Pierre and I played cards in the big room until I was called in for my included dinner by Armando the waiter of “first class” (and not Jun.)  Later I learned that Armando was the father of Jean-Pierre, whose mother was a French missionary, which explained why Jean-Pierre was in “first class” without a meal. 

I ate in the dining room with Manuela, the only other person who had paid for included meals, a middle-aged woman with four children (three daughters) who lived in Iquitos.  I tried to start a friendly conversation with her.

“[You are going to Iquitos to look for a woman,]” she said off the bat.

“[It’s possible.]”

“[“There are many beautiful girls in Iquitos, very poor.  They’ll see you are a tourist and…]”  Then she made a sound and motion with her hands to signify that I could be hitched faster than it takes to send an instant message on the internet.  She started getting all shady, with this look in her eye and gold in her tooth that said, “take my daughters so I can get out of here,” and asked me if I wanted a woman in Iquitos.  I just played the confused gringo bit, which only prompted her to criticize me for not knowing enough Spanish.

A bad bootleg DVD movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme played on the TV — “bad” refers to “DVD movie,” not “bootleg” — which really entertained the locals.  So far I’ve learned that the Peruvians really like their Muscles from Brussels.  After that, Armando kicked out the ten people from “economy” who had snuck up for some entertainment, leaving me, Manuela and Jean-Pierre in the room.  I started talking with Jean-Pierre again, but Manuela rudely interjected “[It’s no use, he won’t understand you.]”  I mentally gave her the finger thinking “Understand this, bitch.”

Jean-Pierre and I played some more cards, including a game called Casinos, similar to the Ecuadorean Cuarenta.  We stopped to join in on another DVD screening, this time a bad bootleg DVD movie of Steven Seagal.  It put me to sleep.

On my way back to my cabin, I noticed people with a searchlight out front, scanning the river for big trees or rocks to avoid collision.  After waiting so long to disembark, it would have been a shame to be stuck on something for a while.






Next entry: Tally Me Banana

Previous entry: A Fresh Young Boy




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Comments for “A New Shipmate”

  • I’m still playing catch-up…more to come tomorrow!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/08  at  02:02 AM


  • That lady is so RUDE!

    First she wants you to marry one of her daughters, then she’s throwing insults into your converstaions?!? WTF?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/08  at  02:52 AM


  • “it sure does RAIN in the RAINforest…”

    i guess you can call the lady rude, but hay…what can ya do? huh? 

    tranquilo, tranquilo…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/08  at  03:26 AM


  • just politely tell her no thanks, but you already have your eye on the ambiguously gay chef.. hehee

    just joshing..

    be safe.. it looks like you’re in the middle of anaconda land over there.. beware of those bug things that fly into your throat and have to get sliced out like in the movie…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/08  at  03:41 AM


  • i wonder if the “ladies” in Iquitos are better than the… well, you know the $5 lunch special???? good luck and be safe smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/08  at  04:57 AM


  • hey, maybe you can do what the girls do.. buy a cheap ring or use hoop earrings (probably could get one off of jun.. hehehe) and pretend it’s a wedding ring..

    i don’t know what worse having a 100 drivers chase you for a fare or 100 women chase you for marriage…  i always said you’d come back married, but i was hoping it wouldn’t be through something like this…

    have fun in iquitos.. just not too much fun ; )

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/08  at  12:32 PM


  • on a 3 hour tour ... 3 hour tour ... hey, BTW I hear if you fall in the water .. you shouldn’t piss you may wake up with some unfriendlies you don’t want.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/08  at  01:37 PM


  • Dood! i have a great idea. What do you think of: “The Global Pimp-Daddy of the Amazon”???

    it has a nice ring to it…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/08  at  01:53 PM


  • I can’t believe it took you so long to leave the port.  20+ hours!?!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/08  at  05:00 PM


  • yes, rza…wheat IS in the bakla
    office!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/08  at  05:24 PM


  • udz - WHEAT lives in the bakla office….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/08  at  05:27 PM


  • NikkiJ:  SURE DO miss those, ahem, $5 lunch specials!

    Jenn:  Oh man, people are trying to sell me wives left and right around here in Iquitos…well not left and right, just every so often…  I think I’m getting it worse than a gringo here because here I’m “a rich Peruvian” with access to the states!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/08  at  05:30 PM


  • Hey Erik,
    Glad to see your back safe and sound!!  But barely.  That boat trip just didn’t look enjoyable.  You don’t see even saying “I’m jealous” I think this is one time no one was envious of you!!  Keep up the good work!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/09  at  01:41 AM


  • Hey Erik,
    Glad to see your back safe and sound!!  But barely.  That boat trip just didn’t look enjoyable.  You don’t see even saying “I’m jealous” I think this is one time no one was envious of you!!  Keep up the good work!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/09  at  01:41 AM


  • A 20+ HOUR DEPARTURE DELAY??!! ... what is that about!! i think i would have started swimming. weren’t the passanger spissed?? didn’t this cause chaos??  imagine of that happen here… 

    better start wearing a wedding ring & dress like a homeless. tell them your taken already.

    (i’m jealous)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/10  at  01:59 AM


  • Hey now, remember the cultural differences between we Americans and those from other countries…I’m sure the delayed boat was no surprise to the Peruvians, that’s just the way they do it there.  I imagine that the rushing around in New York would bother them.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/10  at  07:04 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Tally Me Banana

Previous entry:
A Fresh Young Boy




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

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1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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