Days 5,6,7 turmoil on river and in stomach

day five -pass where Rio Napo empties out into the Amazon. We’d come down the Rio Napo from Ecuador in January. Do not recognize. Huge volume of water surging into another huge volume of water. Looks very turbulent. Woman at house before the junction said ‘go right through. But it’s feo.’ We do not go right through. We go all the way around trying to circumvent where the push of river is strongest. A dolphin leaps very close to canoe. The water is seething and hissing and making strange spirals and backcurrents.

We feel like we’re in the ocean. Big water reflects clouds. We often accidentally refer to the river as the ocean … ‘when we’re on the ocean…er… river’

Make it to Oran and camp outside town outside a big house of a man who seems to have servants. Yanamono had a toy-town feel to it because they were involved in community tourism. For example they had sit down toilets and those only get built for tourists. Oran is large and also sees outsiders. An American has a lodge there. It is ‘developing.’ They’re putting in internet, etc. The river was shapely there and not many bugs, could be a city soon.

rio napo rio amazonas map

Day six – At the port down by the canoes employee of house owner shows us how to salt fish. Gifts us the forteen palomitas and two others. Sad learning to slice fish open then bash the knife through its head because we can’t do it efficiently yet and fish dies a horrible death with a knife sawing it slowly open and its eyes bulge out with pain that’s passed the limit.

Row until afternoon until we feel we are about to die because of sun. Claw our way up a muddy fallen in bank. Young man is whistling and carving an ore. Ask if we can camp (exhausted) but says its better downstream at a nearby community. He gifts us a huge bag of farinia (fermented Yucca crumbs.) We sit a while longer and his wife who is tall and beautiful and a little girl appear and they all get in a tiny canoe to check the net and come back with a huge fish. Wife wants him to give us the fish but we decline but we are touched that they would gift us their meal.

Stop downstream. Have stomach problems still, have to be careful not to paddle too forcefully. Port has a very steep bank very muddy. Community is eerie perched very high up over the river that’s big and ocean-like here, and the sky is gray and someone is playing the flute and the rhythmic thwack of machetes in the grass and the children’s faces are mud smeared. People help us pile our stuff onto a house with no walls.

map Oran rio amazonas

Day seven-

It rains from sunrise. We don’t leave. Nina has worst stomach pain these days. We are staying with a fisherman and a woman from Iquitos. She’d met him a month ago at the festival of San Juan and spontaneously abandoned her old life and returned with him to this desolate, tiny community (not even on the map,) escaping an abusive boyfriend and apathetic children. She said she loves him a lot, he treats her good, but he wants a baby and she’s afraid since she’s older now. She is loud and screechy but and merry and she screams jokes to the woman in the neighboring house (neither house has walls, all houses are more like impromtu shelter, wooden, slightly raised off the ground on stilts, partially built) and they fall about laughing raucously. We all lay in hammocks with blankets over us and put out containers to catch rainwater. The man doesn’t talk much. Only the rain stops that afternoon and I see him go out on his boat and he smiles at me a big broad smile, he’s so happy to be back on the river. 

It shows they haven’t lived there long because the fireplace is underneath the house. You have to crouch and tend the fire like a cave creature. It is cold. I walk to the last house and buy a fermented honey concoction from an old woman that’s supposed to be a remedy for cold weather. It hurts our stomachs more. Wonder what’s actually in it. It’s supposed to give you diarrhea to purge apparently, oops. It is freezing we feel terrible. Fragile brittle bones, weak and frail, the wind blows through the house. Lie down and can’t move anymore. 5pm. 

day 6 route from Oran Amazon river

cold community amazon river map

scooping water from canoe in the morning on the ocean river

preparing to leave the community of San Augosto. scooping water out of boat in the morning


Posted on August 22, 2014, in Preparation. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Sorry to see the big boat go. You must visit a good medical clinic…

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