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RIO NAPO ECUADOR - PERU - Double Your Trip

HoboTraveler.com Travel Tips Newsletter
And Updates on Around The World Trip

ISSUE:  055
DATE:  January 11, 2002
TIP:  Double your trip, by living in a room for a month.
LOCATION:  Iquitos, Peru


Issue 55 - Hobotraveler.com - December 11, 2002
A Hobo trip around the world. Year 4


Lots of new entries, but for the most part
the same old, same old.


~   HOBO STEW (A Dish of Meat and Vegetables)
~   Hoboguide.com GO THIS WAY
~   TODAY’S TIP - Double your Money and Trip
~   TODAY’S TIP FROM THE - “Peanut Gallery”


~   HOBO STEW (A Dish of Meat and Vegetables)


It’s a new year, and the world feels a little fresher.
Nothing has really changed, but is nice to say we are
starting anew. I have been writing this newsletter for over two
years and hopefully I have learned a little about writing. but if
nothing else I’ve had fun. Hopefully one day I will learn
grammar and spelling. But until that time comes, you will just have to

This newsletter is very large, and I want to apologize for any
words or bad grammar. I am better at collecting information then
writing. This newsletter tells of my trip from Ecuador to Peru by
the River Napo. It is the complete trip, and the story is long, but I
interesting. Hope you enjoy it. Every newsletter and the WebPages
take me from 4-14 hours to compile and publish on the internet.
I am not getting rich doing this, but poco, poco.

Writing the newsletter is an adventure for me. I get to research,
and discover information and it forces me to learn.
A person needs a project to travel for years at a time.
Something to do on a daily basis to keep their mind occupied.
I suppose some of you would say...
“How could you be bored? or why would you need something to do?”
I am not bored, but I do need a routine. There are few things
that are stable or consistent in my life. I do not know where I will
sleep each day or who I will meet. My friends change weekly and
each place is a new adventure. This is not a normal life, but it is
This newsletter give me some stability.

I am sure some of you are looking out the window and dreaming
about how nice it would be to visit the Amazon River. I look out the
window and think of a past life, simple and clean. Clean sheet, normal
food, and my best friends. I am very lucky and would not change

Iquitos, Peru is one of the best places I have visited. I say this with
trepidation though because it is not an easy city. Most cities are
simple for travelers. They enter the city, and there are 3-4 things
to go see. They spend each day looking at them, then leave.
This is not Iquitos. You enter, stay confused, and then you leave.
Or you pay a lot of money for a tour, and are still confused, and you
leave. Hopefully happier then you came.

I reread that paragraph, and said to myself,
“Andy, that does not make sense”.
True, but that is Iquitos, Peru. It is a mess.
Nothing is simple in Iquitos. If you go to Jungle Jims, Aris Restaurant,
or the
Gringo Bar and sit around, you will hear lot of stories. But the stories
are all about random events. The person was walking through the market,
or down the street, and a person walks up with a strange animal.
These funny little things happen daily, but there is no way to plan
them, and this frustrates the normal traveler and they leave and
are not sure what they did in Iquitos. For the ones that feel they
must do something, or they would be wasting their time.
They “Pagar”. (pay)
They pay for a tour to a lodge in the Jungle. This optimizes their
chance of something happening, and when they leave they can
say to their friends...
“I went on this tour”.

Now that sounds simple. Book a tour, enjoy the trip, see the
jungle and animals. What is wrong with that? Nothing.
But I have a dream of seeing a 15 foot alligator or hacking my way
through a jungle with a machete, then walking under a waterfalls
for a swim. The problem is the animals do not cooperate. In the
end each lodge has a few animals as pets. A monkey, and various
birds, or a big snake for the visitors to see. This is special, but not
quite as exciting adventure for “Indiana Jones”.

The guides have a difficult job here. The people come to see the jungle
and animals and will pay lots of money. So, why is this a problem?
The jungle is work. It is extremely difficult.
The average traveler or tourist is not prepared physically or
mentally for this type of trip. They want comfort.
The word comfort and jungle are not compatible.

I have already started some explorations. I found a few guides that will
me off the normal path. I know where the docks are, and which people
have boats for hire. I saw a place to charter airplanes with pontoons
to fly into the jungle and land on distant rivers. I am learning which
Indian villages are only for show for the tourist, and the ones that
very few people visit. I am taking the time to listen an learn.
I am just hanging out. A good activity for a traveler.

With each of these adventures I will write a detailed story.
I am starting with some simple day trips, the progressively getting
more complicated as I learn what equipment is necessary, and
where to go. I will include photos, prices, and a map drawn with
my computer. This is not easy, lots of planning. So be patient
as I meander through life on the Amazon River.

Beso y Abrazos

Andy the hobo

Maybe it will help you to...
Be a Hobo, and leave your mark.

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The Hobotraveler.com

Article written by Andy the Hobotraveler.com
On year 4 of Hobo trip around the world.
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This is our story to find the hobo budget traveler route from
Quito, Ecuador to Iquitos Peru. The tourist route we know exist for
600-700 dollars. The question is,
can a traveler do it on a hobo budget?
Say... Fifty dollars?


We took a bus from Quito, Ecuador to Tena, then another bus trip to
Coca, Ecuador. One day boat trip to Nuevo Rocafuerte at the border of
Ecuador and Peru. Another two hour boat trip to cross the border
to a city on the Peruvian side called Pantoja. Then a 4-5 day trip
down the river to the town of Masan. Took a 3 wheeled motorbike
across a narrow strip of land, and then 1 hour boat ride to Iquitos
This took about 10 days.

NOTE: It is not necessary to go to Tena. You can go directly to Coca
cheaper, and faster. It was just a choice we made.


Hundreds of thousands of travelers follow the Gringo Trail
in South America each year. For the most part they all
choose their unique path or route, but if you
step back and see the whole picture you will understand
that they all are more or less on the same route. Only
leaving the trail to go take a look at the destinations
that interest them, then returning to the Gringo Trail.

A trip to any destination or country is better if you enter from one
way and leave from another. In most countries that means
you go to the next country. Very few proceed north of Ecuador
to Colombia because of the problems with Guerillas.
It is therefore normal for people to leave Ecuador by the city of
Tumbes, but a great alternative is to leave by the River Napo to
Iquitos, Peru. Then proceed onward either toward Brazil or travel
West by river to Yurimaugas and catch a bus, or South by river
to Pucallpa and catch a bus. There are also cheap airplane flights to
Peru for 80 dollar US.

Iquitos, Peru is where the Amazon River and the Napo
River meet. A great base to enter the Jungle and see the
wild animals, with local villagers.

Here is a map that may explain better the routes or
the Gringo Trail for the top of South America.




1. The guidebooks are very very vague.
---This exist and will remain so for a few years.
2. I have not met anyone yet that has done the trip.
---There are people doing the trip, but you would only find them in
Coca, Ecuador
or Iquitos, Peru.
3. All the Eco-tours just get you near Coca or Tena and not down the
to Peru. A trip to their Hotels but as an end to the trip.
They do take you down the river, but just to see stuff.
---Forget the Eco-tours and other excursions. Waste of time.
4. Some sort of on-going border dispute between Peru and Ecuador.
---This end in November of 2000 and seems ended. The relations appear
to be OK, and I expect to remain well.
5. The boats are small, so shelter have to be made on shore.
---This could be true for some travelers, but for the most part, or 95
percent of
the time you will be able to rent secure and dry hammock space from
6. The water is high right now, they say. Suppose to be faster.
---Fast water is only a benefit, but in reality it still appears very
7. Isolation leads to the ability to robbed.
---Never was that isolated. But if you rented a personal canoe and
travel with
a private guide or individual this would be true.
8. The culture always make people say what you want to hear, and not the
reality. So to separate the noise people tell you from the reality is
---Still a problem. the solution is to just wait it out. They will say
nothing exist
and there will always turn up a good solution.
9. Ecology issues become blurred with reality issues,
Marketing of what people want from what is real.
---Do not be concerned with ecological sites, or tours, they are not
giving any
information presently on the Rio Napo trip of value.
10. I may need a minimum of 8-12 people to rent a boat.
---This was not the case. Do not worry, the people will be there. Not
other travels but the locals need to also travel the river.
11. I may have to change to another boat at the border of Ecuador and
---Yes this is true, but not a problem. There can be one to four day
12. The cargo boats only leave when they are full. This can lead to
and unexpected expense.
---Yes there are delays, but for the most part, the expense is no more
a couple US dollars per extra day.
13, Malaria, Dengue and Cholera are possible diseases.
---This is the same as any place in South America, but there is Head
Lice to
avoid. Do not sleep in the same hammock or get too close to some of the
14. Drug Traffickers along the border of Colombia and Peru.
---I am sure this exist, but almost impossible to find.
15. Possibly illegal to transport cargo on the river.
----It is legal, but not being done in large quantities. There is very
little transfer
or products at this border.
16. Where to get stamp on passport?
In Ecuador you get a stamp in Coca, and in Peru you get one at Pantoja.


After a trip by bus from Quito, Ecuador we arrived
in Tena late in the afternoon and settled into the
Amazonas Hotel for the night.

Waking up at 5:30 in the morning.
Roosters have been crowing incessantly for the last
hour with a few dogs barking for good measure. I finally
succumbed to consciousness, and decided to get a cup of
coffee and type on this computer. There is no electrical plug in
the room, or in the bathroom, so I performed my normal procedure
of replacing the light socket in the middle of the room with the adapter
socket that has 2 plugs on it, and then screwing in the lighbulb again.
My extension cord give me enough cord to reach my computer. I will
need to hurry because they will probably turn off the electricity at
6:00 in the morning. The electricity is turn on at 6:00 at night and
probably turned off again at 6:00 in the morning.

Tena is nice, and modern, but also backwards at the same time.
It has been raining intermittently since we arrive, which give a person
a wet and soggy feeling. Always feeling a little wet. The Hostal
Amazonas for two dollars and fifty cents is quite nice, except for that unknown
variety of bugs that scurry away when I turned on the lights. They are probably
cockroaches, but I really do not want to investigate. This is definitely
a place where one needs to shake their underwear before putting them on.

I have not seen any Indians dressed in indigenous clothes. Although
my ability to speak Spanish has greatly decreased. They speak a really
badly pronounced Spanish mixed with lots of words of Quechua. And
because they really do not care if they understand it make life a
little frustrating. Mark remarked that I have a short fuse on my temper
sometimes. It is not temper, I was tell him, but me giving them
direct orders, in an extremely forceful way. This is not always good,
but as in most countries there are two types of people, the people that give
orders and the people that take orders. When I need to accomplish
something quickly I give orders. This is a tourist place, and the locals
have decided that the best way to deal with the tourist is to just
confuse them, and they will pay anything. So they do not like that I ask how
much things cost before I pay. Tourists change a place, they pay a lot of
money for anything, and think that they are helping the people. I suppose in
some ways they are, but more often then not, the local just consider the
tourist stupid, and naive. So in reality the goal is not accomplished, because
there is no mutual respect created between cultures. It is easy to understand
why people do not talk, and bargain hard, or discuss thing with the locals.
It does not cost that much in the first place, and to force the people
to listen and talk is tiresome.

The trip took 6 hours from Quito. We paid 5 dollars USA and left at 9:30
in the morning. It would have been better to leave as early as possible.
But Mark is one of them people that needs to sleep, and eat breakfast. That
is OK, but not the best way to travel in Ecuador. Better to leave very
early and arrive early, then if the bus have trouble we still arrive before
dark. I went along with the Mark on this point because I did not want to
argue. He is an experienced traveler, but he travels with nothing of
value. Therefore takes little caution. Leaving life to fate, and not worried
about anything. It is strange on the other hand that he really feels that
going down the River Napos is needed to be done by 2 people and not alone.
I think he likes to travel with other people. I like to travel alone,
because it is safer for me. I do not have to compromise my schedule, or my
ways of being safe.


Tena is definitely a one horse town. Everywhere we go there are tours on
the river or jungle. Everyone we see looks like they just came back from a
tours. Walking in tow with the guide of the day, and sharing dinner with the
guide and other locals. Being good tourist they also pay. The reason why Mark
is a good travel companion for this trip is because neither on of us can
be bothered by either tourist or guides. We both are repulsed by both. Of
course we are by definition tourist. I am sure the local trips are
overpriced and very beautiful. It is something about the feeling I get around
tourist and guides that make me feel bad. I guess I would describe it like a
kindergarten class where the teacher tells you what to do, and all the kids fight
over being first. Get in line, and follow the one in front of you.
They tell you what, and when to see something. Showing only the picture
of the world they wish to present.

So we are very excited because we will go down the river Napo with
no guide, making are own adventure, good or bad.

I just went a woke Mark to a flurry of complaints.
He started on a list or reason he could not sleep. The military guys
ran by at 5:00 shouting off cadence.
“There was a carnival outside the door!”
Between the chickens the dogs, and military how can you
sleep. The sun has not broken across the horizon.
Morning in Tena. We leave for another 6 hours to bus trip to Coca.
You may look at this like torture, but this is part of the tour.
Through muddy roads, and rain forest, Fast running rivers, and
every type of local normal behavior. The bus must be included
to enjoy the total picture.



Five hours on a bus from Tena to Coca. The bus stopped and
picked up every person that raised their hand, from school children
to farmers with plastic containers of gas. A few men with hardhats that
are either working for Petroleum companies or Road crews.

The trip through this jungle pass is beautiful. Tall trees with moss
hanging down, ferns spreading their branches. Dense green as
far as you can see, with low hanging clouds over the valleys and
mountains. The winding road is torturous on my mind, and cause
me to have motion sick if I look at the passing vegetation. I must
fix my eyes on thing futher away to keep from being sick. We are in the
very front of the bus so there is less of a problem, but the constant
stopping and starting, weaving constantly back and forth as we
work our way through mountain passes. Climbing, and dropping
around the curves of the mountain makes me weak.

Houses along the way are made of wood. Simple, solid looking homes
inserted into a cocoon of green. Often hard to see for all the
foliage that surround the house. We came upon small groupings of
houses and maybe a small school. Hard to believe that there is enough
students to have a school. This is a beautiful wonderful place to see
and a horrible place to live. Farmers clear away trees and the jungle
reclaims it the next day. Water is so abundant that there are streams and
waterfalls everywhere. Along side the road, and coming out of the side
of mountains. Corn planted along side the road is full of weeds, trees,
and brush. Planted on the side of mountains, the only thing that does
not grow plants is the road, and the occasional concrete pad in
front of houses.


Mark is serious and says we have reached the end of the line.
The road has ended in his mind here, and so has the normal world.
We are on the fringe of places where normal thing like electricity
and running water are not common. Our present hotel is a mix of
these two forms of civilization. We have lights and water, but the
room is very dirty, and bleak. Noise is constant outside. Music
the wonderful part of culture is everywhere and overbearing.
The restaurant below has women and guys asking us to buy them
a beer. Looking like working women. We hope they do not decide
to work in our hotel.

Fortunately we have found another hotel. One notch up and a leap
from 3 dollars a night USA to 3.50 dollars night. We will move this
to the other hotel. It is named the Florida Hostal. All the hotels in
city are full with what we believe are petroleum workers. Only a few
close to the dock on the River Napo have vacancies. This is perfect
because we have to go there 3 times a day to check for incoming
cargo boats.

Hot, dusty, and full of noise. Mark is says to me
“I normally go to beautiful places”.
I do not comment because for the most part he is
claiming his status as a tourist. Beauty first, and reality second.
This is reality and difficult to avoid. There is a hotel and disco at
expensive hotel along the river. It has a swimming pool with a slide
and parking for your car. We are fully capable of avoiding reality of
life, but I have no desire to avoid this, I want to smell, hear, and
the culture. There are bread stands, food cooking in the
street, smoking and smelling. Water trucks filling up tanks on tops of
roofs, and large trucks rambling along the road, with military guys
idly standing and comparing notes, looking for something.

I have been to many places in Colombia, or Ecuador, or Peru where
I was the only Gringo. There is a Gringo trail and we are not on it.
This make Mark comment every hour on the hour.
“They are all looking at us”.
I realize that I am immune to this, and consider it normal. I look
for the friendly faces, and happiness interspersed among the many
faces of vendors and small children, or mother with babies strapped
to their backs. Mark says,
“I have not seen one whitey”
This is not racist, only the obvious. We are the only white Gringos
people in the city.
“This is why we came”,
I said,
“To see if we can go to Iquitos by water?”
I am sure we can. But.... How difficult will it be?
But more important. Is it for the cheap hobo budget traveler?
And can anyone make the trip? My impression is yes, for sure
as we are about to leave the clear Gringo trail of the Guidebook.
It is possible to travel to Iquitos. But will it become part of the
the Gringo Trail?

For those of you that are complaining about the word Gringo.
The word Gringo in Central America and Mexico refers to all people
from the USA, but in South America it includes all people that are
white, or tourist and sometimes they just group all people as
Americans and blame the USA for all sins. The people from the
USA represent about 3-4 percent of the travelers. European are the
normal traveler. The USA has no presence in people. Music, movies,
and computer culture... yes.



There is a beautiful dock at Coca. Covered with trees and
overhanging the river. We are in Coca it is the convergence of
the Coca River and the Napo River. Looking down we can see the
long narrow boats about 15 meters long that carry people,
cargoes, and I am sure a few animals.

The boats are supposed to leave on Mondays and Thursday.
We arrive in the afternoon on Thursday. The boat had already
left, and we need to wait until Monday. Various boats go down
the river daily. A few boat travel down the river daily carrying
workers to the work site. So everyday there is a possibility of finding
a boat to Nueva Rocafuerte at the border of Ecuador and Peru.
We walk down quickly a few times a day to ask questions of people
around the dock. There is a military building for the Captain of the
and supervisors for security. About five people are standing in front of
the Captains offices at all times. A couple guys with guns, a couple
and what a appears to be off duty workers with nothing to do.

Friday we had a person from the military post lead us to a Captain of
a boat that say he is leaving on Saturday at 8:30. We are very fortunate
to meet a man that speaks English earlier from Ecuador that is married
to a Canadian women. He says he lives across from the most Auca
Hotel at the Tame Building. He then says the immigration office is
right about. This perks up my ears, because I did not know there
was an immigration office. I have asked by this time at least 5 times
where we get a exit stamp on our visa. The military guys keep nodding
there head when I say Nuevo Rocafuerte, and I am sure that they do
not understand well. There is no central information that is clear and
working on a full tank of gas. This is confusing, and I speak very good



The immigration office is 2 blocks from the Dock. It is on the third
above the Tame Building. If you stand in front of the expensive Auca
and look across the street. The Tame building is on the right corner of
street. The Immigration is right around the corners and up. You will see
a sign. The hours are not clear, but they do seem to be open daily. The
boats leave very early in the morning, and the office will probably be
so you need to get the exit stamp the day before. The boats that leave
Monday could be a problem because if the office is closed you will not
a stamp. At this point we are not sure if the office is closed. Now
there may
be another office at the Nuevo Rocafuerte post, and we could also do
there, but that is to be discovered.


You can get a credit card advance on Visa
but not MasterCard.
Toilet Paper
Mosquito Net
Mosquito Repellent
Umbrella or Poncho
Rash Medicine
Hammock with Ropes

Mark has broken out in a rash. I had one on the Amazon coming
from Manaus to Iquitos in the past. So I recommend you carry a small
tube of Antibiotic creme. This will help with either a heat rash or
or the unknown cause of these rashes. There is gossip of some
form of wood particles in the water.


There is a few guides in the guidebook in Coca, and etc. We stopped and
to a couple. The spent more time talking about partying and drinking
and had very little information. The office of tourism here is only
marginally helpful and is some ways just a front for tour companies.
The best way to find a guide is to hang around the city for a week and
talk with the local until you get that feeling you trust a person you
There are dangers on the river and you will be completely isolated from

The city of Coca for the most part is safe. I would not say it is a
place, but the people are cordial and helpful as long as they are
you something. As normal staying out to five in the morning and getting
drunk and stumbling home is only asking for trouble. I have not felt any
real dangers here, although I am sure it could be found. I am sure the
problem is for a naive tourist to pay way too much. But that is
an annoyance and not a danger.


Bus from Quito to Tena 5 USA
Bus from Tena to Coca 6 USA
2 nights in Hotel
First 3
Second 3.5

Boat to Nuevo Rocafuerte 10 USA
Mosquito Repellant 1.80
Mosquito Net 6 USA
Hammock 6
Ropes for Hammocks 3


Every time I type the word “Coca”, I am sure some
of you think of cocaine. Coca is the word for the plant
that cocaine is made from. I have no idea why the river is
the city and a the river that meets here has the name

Back the trip. We woke up early, and this time Mark was
complaining about the motor that pumps water to the tank
on the top of the building. It had a short delay between time
it started, so it would turn on and off all night. It was right
outside his room. The Florida Hotel is great, but avoid getting
close to the pump. Good place to wash a few clothes before

With full travel gear, backpacks, frontpack, walking in shorts
and sandals. I do not want to get my gym shoes wet in the boat.
A tourist would have on them big shoes, and long pants, and safari
Our clothes consist of short, T-shirts, sandals. Mark does have on the
travel pants with the zipoff legs, and he washes them once a week.
If I am lucky. It is hot and sticky.

We walk down to the dock to wait for the boat, or at least hope the guy
up. He told us to meet him at the dock at 8:00. This could be
anywhere from 7:00 to 10:00 in the morning by my astute
interpretation of Latino time. He shows up at about 9:00.
We have been enjoying the time, people watching. There are
people waiting everywhere. Some to work their way down
river to there home, or grass roofed hut. The probably want to
get out of the big city as quick as possible, and all these city
folk. Petroleum worker drive up in their 4 wheel drive trucks,
unload strange devices, hardhats, ropes, and other gear. Looking
a little bit like they are just five minutes out of bed. Drinking is
normal, and these are normal people. So I am sure they are
still clearing a few cobwebs out of their minds. The sun shines
pretty bright and we hope the boat has a roof on it. If it starts to
rain we could get very wet. We have no idea what to expect.

Alfonso arrives, and a sense of relief passes between Mark and me.
I do not want to walk back to the room and unpack, and do the
same thing the next day, Maybe? The boat has a roof, and I know
my computer will live safely another day.... weeeee.
The boat is about 20 meters long, and made of steel. The guidebook
says that we will go down in dugout canoes. I do not think they have
updated this section of the book for the last 10 years. Steel and
high powered motors are common. Various boat owners making a very
good life hauling workers back and forth to the oil rigs. I know I make
this sound like an adventure, and it is. We do not have helicopters,
armed guards, and oil money to fund this trip.

The boat has only one motor, and is full to the brim with plastic gas
barrels, and about 1000 dollars worth of extension cords, and other
supplies. I was hoping it would have 2 motors like the petroleum
boats. Not for speed, but for insurance that we have 2 motors. If
one stops the other can be the backup. I soon find out although Alfonso
has a habit of looking around, and not seeming confident. He is a
very good person to captain the boat. It looks more like a long cigar
boat with a roof, and to one of them cruise ships.

The boat has 10 people on it. The Captain and a guy in the front to
steer us away from shallow waters. A man and wife with a baby.
A girl from Rocafuerte that is 15 years old and going on 20.
And another girl from Quito going to visit her brother in the Military.
She is 18 years old going on 15. One guy that says he owns a Finca.,
or a plantation. Then Mark and me. Two gringos
going crazy slowly and steadily. Alfonso is great, and has supplied
us with plastic lawn type chairs to sit on, and even a few bottles of
water to drink. The trip is supposed to take 12 hours. Which means
we would arrive after dark. Who knows and who cares is the feeling
between me and Mark. There is no way to control this or change
it, so we must accept the trip as it comes.

Motoring down this stretch of the river was pleasant. Mark sets
up a hammock in the boat, and proceeds to smoke cigarettes
and tease the two girls. They are characters, and Mark an me
are have good laughs. Looking over the side of the boat and out
from under the roof we are right on top of the water. The river
is about the width of 3 football fields, and a lot bigger than
I thought it would be. But it is not deep and the Captain must
keep an eye constantly alert looking for the winding path of
navigable water. The man at the front keeping sending occasional
hand signals of which way to turn, or trees, and sand bars to
avoid. This becomes a wet and miserable job when the comes
one of the intermittent rain storms

I try to explain in Spanish about Oxbows and why the river meanders
and is not straight to Monica the girl from Quito. I know she does
not care, but I am trying hard to remember my Geography class in
college, and it give me something to think about, and a few new
word in Spanish to learn. I am sure they are not the correct words.
The river is so wide that it is difficult to realize it meanders, but it
does and the Captain keeps going diagonally back and forth. Each
bank of the river show an almost violent erosion. Tree fall into the
water and float away, the soil, mud, and foliage drop into the water
and leave a ledge of clay mud. Slowly or quickly changing the course
of the river. There are steps cut into the bank of the river to allow
inhabitants along the river to get to their dugouts, or boats, and to
greet visitors bringing supplies or picking up things to sell. Or to
hop a ride up or down the river.

I came up with the Spanish word of “Arco” to call the oxbow.
This coming from the word Arch that would be above a doorway
or entrance. These oxbows or arches are formed by the U-bends
in the river, then there are other short cuts or new routes formed
when the meandering of the river is so great that two bend
actually connect and the river has a new path. The outside edge
of the U is the deepest, and the path that Alfonso the Captain

The bank of the river has oil machinery, cranes, and other stuff.
Although we do
not see an actual oil well. Only men and machines doing what seems
and impossible task of trying to create a place to work inside the
horribly dense vegetation. There are clearings, and with all the talk
about the depletion of rainforest, and trees along the Amazon.
I have a hard time believing the statistics. There are “Platanos”
immersed in the canopy of green. This is a type of banana.
These “Fincas” are very hard to see because they
are entrenched in trees and vines, and tall grass. The only signs
of organization, is that which nature demands. Nature is winning
here, and man is just another mosquito.

FRANCISCO DE ORELLANA - Discovered the Amazon.

Orellana, Francisco de (1500?-45), Spanish explorer and soldier,
navigator of the Amazon river, born in Trujillo. He went to Peru
in 1535. In 1540 he accompanied the Spanish explorer
Gonzalo Pizarro as second-in-command on an expedition across
the Andes Mountains into the country to the east, which was
reported to abound in gold, silver, and cinnamon. After a number
of misfortunes the expedition reached the Napo River. When the
supplies were exhausted, Orellana was ordered (1541) to sail
down the Napo River with 50 men to search for provisions and
signs of treasure. He descended the stream to its junction with
the Amazon river, in present-day northeastern Peru; INSTEAD OF
RETURNING, he proceeded down the river to the Atlantic Ocean. The
voyage to the mouth of the Amazon lasted nearly eight months.
From the mouth of the river he sailed back to Spain. His
description of a marvelous race of female warriors, whom he
named after the Amazons of Greek mythology, gave the river its
name. Orellana was granted permission by the Spanish government
to return and continue his exploits. In 1544 he set forth in a
second expedition. He died in the new territory within a year.


Some authorities believe that the river was named after the
Amazons, women warriors of Greek mythology who were
thought to reside in the region. Other scholars insist that the
name is derived from the Native American word amassona,
meaning "boat destroyer”

" Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia”


A guy named Vicente Yáñez Pinzón from Spain may
have discovered the Amazon delta around 1500 but Orellanos
is given the credit for exploration. “Pedro Teixeira undertook the
first upstream voyage. Between October 1637 and August 1638”

So if you read the exerpt from my trusty CD Rom Encyclopedia
closely you will see that INSTEAD OF RETURNING, he proceeded
down the river. This seems remarkable, and for sure is courageous.
And to survive this trip and to tell the tale makes him deserve a few
cities named after him both in Peru and Ecuador. But as far as I am
concerned the is no way in the world I would every try to paddle
upstream. Plus I am sure this river could destroy a boat.
I would just keep on floating downstream also and enjoy
the trip.


Coca is also named or called Francisco de Orellano.
There is also a city in Peru named after him.


Peru and Ecuador have a long going dispute over ownership
of territory between the Southeast part of Ecuador and the
Northwest part of Ecuador. This dispute was resolved in
November of 2000 as best I can determine. This opened
or made available the river for the transfer of passengers or
cargo. At this time there is still very little transfer of cargo
or people between the two countries by this route.


Not us! Sounded like a good name for this section.
Upon arriving at the military base at the border we soon
find a whole base full of very drunk soldiers and loud
music. Soldiers dressed in half soccer uniforms and half
military dress, and dancing in the streets. Screaming above
the music we present our passports, and tell, who, what, a
and why we did it, and whose to blame. Mark endears himself
quickly with these Soldiers by drinking their beer and dancing
in the office. All 6 foot 4 inches of him. Surrounded by short
guys dressed in green.

Morritz a German guy was standing there waiting, or questioning
the various soldiers about boats, and possible ways to proceed
further down the river. Morritz was with a guide from Ecuador, and
he had paddled down from Coca in a dugout. It took about a week
and he slept along the river. He smelled as though he slept along
the river, so I quickly got a head start and told him he stunk. I want
him down wind from me, and thinking about washing himself, and his
clothes, and checking himself...
“Do I stink?”
He says in bad English.
I say,
I like to get to the point. I am hate of sharing space with anyone that
smells too long. Mark has trouble to wash his clothes, but does
wash himself a lot. Morritz may have trouble with both. I am soon
to find out that there are worst problems.



The best hotel in town, and the worst hotel.
It was the only hotel. A long walk down the road
and at the edge of the Pueblo was a very nice hotel
or Hostal. It had a courtyard with plants and flowers
and lots of space. The owner said only one room was available
so Mark and me share the room. Three beds and enough room
for 6 people, it was great. We hoped that they would turn on
the electricity and water soon. We paid 3 dollars USA per person
and the fan never did work, but the electricity did come on at
6:00 for a few hours, and because I waited for morning to shower
I missed the water.

After a nice meal we went the local disco. I left early, and then
Mark stumbled into the room later. Half because they had turned
off the lights in the town, and half because of them 1 liter size beer
they sell here. He said as the night proceeded. There was 10 guys for
every woman, and they were taking turns to dance. Mark has been eating the typical
food, accompanied by a Papaya or occasional Mango. He therefore
received a lesson from me on how a to flush a toilet with a bucket of
water is required behavior and not just going back to bed. He says it is diarrhea is worst
in India and I keep telling him that he is South America, and there is no
requirement to regress in social behaviors. I am few years older than
Mark so I go into the not big brother act with him. There is a good
balance between his energy and my age.


We do not have a map, but they say we need to go to
a Pueblo called Pantoja. It is about 1 hour ride by fast boat
and 2-3 hours by slow boat. Everyone in the city has been saying
the price is between 3 dollars and 50 dollars. Most of them have
been quoting us the 50 dollar price. A guy with a stern looks tells
us he is doing us a favor the night before, and will take us there
for 10 dollars USA per person. He has a slow boat, and we
just came on a 10 hour trip from Coca for 10 dollars. The trip
should be about 3 dollars per person. Morritz does not want
to pay, and Mark seems indifferent. I am saying lets walk
away. He need us, and we need him. The more times we
walk away the cheaper the price. We slowly drive him crazy
with bad Spanish, and he we keep saying 6 dollars per person. He finally
shakes his head, and says OK. In the end, he can either make
18 dollars or nothing. Both of us need each other. He is a the
owner of small “Tienda” or shop in Pantoja. and make the trip on
a regular basis to pick up various things.

This boat was a dugout canoe. Very long and thin. I tell Mark
he is clumsy, and he says he isn’t, but I want him to think before
he stands up in this thing. It has a motor on the back, and was
very relaxing. A nice feeling like we were only a few inches off the
and sliding along we could really feel the river. Every wave, branch, or
river debris was within touch. Our load of Soda Pop and Purified
Water, Beer etc was traveling well, and as long as there was no
rain. Life would be good.

Shortly upon leaving we had to check in to another military post
and give them our passports. The proceed to cross the mouth
of a river and two flags. An Ecuadorian and Peruvian. We think
this was the actual border. But as with all information we collected
it was depends or “Depende” as they say in Spanish. Lots of travelers
quote all sorts of hearsay and then make them facts. Conjecture
and speculation become hard facts when told from one person to another.
It is best to keep an open mind, about information from guidebooks or
other travelers, and even this information is not totally reliable.


There are two ports in Pantoja. The first being the military
and the second for civilians. Upon arriving we were greeted
by a three other Gringos. Two from the USA and one from
the Netherlands. They seemed please that there were a few
more Gringos. I think they were a little bored, and needed
a few more people for conversation. Everyone was waiting for
a boat to arrive for the trip to Iquitos. There was now six people in
our group.

When planning this trip in Quito, Ecuador. I ask various tour companies
and travel agents. No one even encouraged that it was even
possible. So upon having six people in our group, I was now
becoming more of a tourist and less of an adventurer. But that
is normal in reality, most people are not the first to do things,
just the first to talk about it.

Pantoja is good fun, and everyone sits around relaxed and talking.
There is not much to do, so the conversation is good. Aguadiente
is drank in copious amounts by the travelers, and stories are told.

There is a no running water or electricity in the houses. So everyday
we must go to the community water fountain and clean. This is a
very pleasant experience because this is also the place where all
the locals hang out to talk and wash clothes. The water is refreshing
in the tropical heat. Taking my coffee pot, I have to dump water over
my head, and then stand there while all the local girls laugh at me.
Lathering up with the soap, and then dumping a full coffee pot of
water over my head. This is different but quite effective. Plus
a great way to meet people.

This routine continues for a couple of days. We sleep in
Hammocks for one dollar USA and get together each night
for dinner and conversation.

The immigration people tracked us down, and we went up
and got our entrance stamp. The village is extremely small
and if you walk up hill, and ask, you will quickly encounter
the office of immigration. I am not sure that there are regular
hours, but the lady that ran the office opened it especially for us.
Do not forget to get your passport stamped.


THE BOAT --- The boat!

A blue boat chugs up in front of our temporary home.
The name of the boat is Victor. The captain is very happy
to arrive and is walking around with a bottle of rum sharing
and inducing the locals to join him in his fun. The rest of the
crew is preparing the boat to spend the night. There is a
stake driven into the ground about 4-5 feet. Using a large wooden
mallet that is bigger than the man using it. They then tie the boat
to the stake, and set up a couple of wobbly boards to enter and
leave the boat. We are ready. For what who knows.
The captains says it cost 20 dollars US and will leave the next
day at 7:00.

This is pretty early, so we decide later in the day we will transfer
our hammock positions to the boat, so we can wake up and leave
with no hassles. We are going to wait until dark, because they
are unloading wood, and supplies, and the crew is working very hard
to unload the boat. People are coming and going, and our stuff would
not be safe from theft. So we will wait till before it is time to sleep
carry our backpacks aboard. The captain is working diligently
entering and leaving all the local homes or business. Carrying his
bottle and laughing and shouting orders to the boat from the shore.
This is all exciting for a small village on the River Napo.

Tomorrow we start our boat trip.


The boat trip from Pantoja, Peru to Iquitos Peru is the longest
time we spent in the boat. It was about four days in the boat and
started out peaceful and relaxed and ends with being extremely
crowded and noisy. Upon starting the boat is completely empty
of passengers and cargo and become slowly filled as we proceed

When people ask me about passenger boats on the Amazon
I am never sure how to answer. This is my third major trip by
boat in the Amazon basin. The first started from Manaus, Brazil
and went to Tapaghinga, Brazil. We then crossed the three way
border and took another boat from Santa Rosa, Peru to Iquitos,
Peru. I did this trip about a one year and half ago. This trip
down the River Napos is my third major trip. The Rio Napo
merges with the Amazon River just east of Iquitos, Peru.

Talking or discussing the boat trip is a catch 22. A person asking
usually is thinking about doing the trip and wants advice, so I want to
help and be honest. But the boat is both hell and heaven at the same
time. The real problem is the moral trepidation’s of talking about
another culture. How to explain what happened or how the boat
is managed without appearing crass or bad-mannered, but having
the full knowledge that people are asking for helpful advice.
The catch 22 is to be honest the will think that I am too critical.
And if I am not honest enough they will I was a jerk for not telling
them the whole truth.

I have listened to other travelers talk about their boat trip. They
avoid any ugly part of the trip, and try to look on the good side.
This is just rude, because they are willing to send a person on
a trip that could be very uncomfortable for the majority of people.

So here we are, laying in hammocks on the top deck of a boat
slowly chugging down river, weaving back and forth following the
meandering path of the river. Stopping at various locations to
pick up other passengers and cargo of Bananas, and other farm
products.. As we go down river we see grass huts, and villagers
looking at us from the river bank. Holding their baby in their arms
and peering at the river. The boat being the only contact with
the outside world. There serene and distant life of living on the
river with the occasional trip up or down the river by dugout canoe
to visit their neighbor.

That situation sounds pretty good.

So here we are, laying in hammocks, and everytime we stop
they load on more people until we have a hammock below us,
above us, and in front and back. Bodies are everywhere. When
you think there is no way to put one more person on the boat
they stop and pick up ten more people. In a space that would
easily in comfort hold forty person they loaded one hundred and
forty. I tried to get an accurate count of the number of passengers
at the end of the trip. But almost impossible. I crawled under and over
hammocks, bumping and jostling people to count. And at the same
time they are all moving. Going to the rest room, or to find fresh
air on the top of the boat.

This is acceptable and the people NEED to go downriver. It could
be a week before the next boat arrives, and the overload conditions
in my opinion is the most pragmatic method.

We are cattle.


Is it good or bad? Totally depends on the person. How you live your
life, and to what degree of cleanliness is acceptable or not acceptable
to you. Whether there are limits to the way you will allow other
people to invade your personal space, and the boundaries in your
head. There is always a continuum from A to Z of decisions to make
when traveling. The sliding scale of personal judgements.

There is no black and white situations hear. The decisions are all gray
and murky. Every comment I will make, or could make is subject
to critical analysis, and there is for sure an opinion different than
mine that in completely correct, and completely wrong according
the subjective perspective of the person.

I have written enough newsletters now and received enough emails
from readers to know that the world wants a dream land. Tell me
the good, and forget the truth. And when I go myself, I will make
the decision, and you will either be a jerk for not telling me the
complete truth or a good guy for being kind and not talking bad
about blah, blah, blah.

Tolerance is needed, but so are sound judgements.
You can always be in situations that slowly slide from very different
to dangerous. The boat owner and Captain is a great guy, happy
and jolly. Fun and gregarious, but if this boat capsizes from being
overloaded, people will die, and he may go to jail.

I called the boat Noah Ark II. Because I saw two animals of every
type along the river loaded on the boat. Monkeys, big and small,
chickens that are
laying eggs, and rooster that have contest to see who can crow
the loudest. Living in the hammock next to me, and below my
feet. Pigs wallowing in feces in the cargo hold below, and a 3 foot
turtle in the bathroom. Every imaginable farm animal and person
was loaded on this boat. Two of every type of animals, and one hundred
forty of human type for good measure.

The boat trip is worth the experience, and if you are trying to
go from Quito Ecuador to Iquitos Peru, the alternatives will cost
you many hours and hundreds of dollars more. The short time
where the experience is bad is worth the greater good of the
enjoyment, and the experiences.


The river makes a very large loop at the end of the trip.
This loop is so big that the river almost connect. You can leave
the boat If you wish. Which almost all of us wished to leave.
You can avoid the remaining 13 hours of boat trip. Even
the travelers that could not say a bad thing about the boat
trip got off. You take an exciting and quick moto-taxi trip
from one river point across this narrow strip of land, and
then pay another small speedboat to take the last leg
of the trip to Iquitos, Peru.

This was enjoyable and quick.


Upon entering the dock of Masusa all the travelers split
up and went their separate ways quickly. Like getting off
an airplane, everyone was in a hurry. The good-byes
and see you later’s, were said in haste, and for most not
at all. Maybe we will, and maybe we will never again
see this person that we a boat on the River Napo with
in the Amazon Basin.

A final word.

Enjoy you travels, and enjoy your life.
Do what you feel is best, and safe for you.
Tolerant or intolerant. Rich or poor, at the end of the
day it is you that has to live with your choices.
What is good or bad fades in the end, but stay safe
and happy is a goal for each day.

I have traveled now for just under four years. People
say lots of good things, and bad things about me.
That is OK. I live my life as I think best, living with
the mistakes I make, and all conquest great and
small. I am responsible for them all.

Maybe it will help you to...
Be a Hobo, and leave your mark.

X     Hobotraveler.com was HERE!

Life is good.
The Hobotraveler.com

Article written by Andy the Hobotraveler.com
On year 4 of Hobo trip around the world.
Budget Travel, Jobs, and Adventure, etc
Subscribe to Free Newsletter at:
You may publish this article for Free
on the internet If this box stays attached.




Wouldn’t it be nice to spend twice the time traveling?
Instead of only three months in South America, to be
able to spend six months. Maybe this is possible.

One of the major expenses of traveling is the hotel or hostel.
According to how you travel and where you travel you can
probably double the time you spend in each country. It takes a
little more planning, but is worth the effort.

I am in Peru right now, and decided to save money on my
room cost. I was paying about 10 soles a night or 3 dollars US.
This is already 5 soles cheaper than the listed price because I
negotiated with the owner. But when I ask her,
“How much for one months rent?,
She said,
“200 Soles”.
That is about 58 dollars per month in USA dollars.

I am sure all of you are going... So what. Peru is already cheap.
Yes, you are correct, but this can even work in Europe or
the USA where the cost is 10 time as high. There are
boarding houses or people looking for roommates all the
time. Go to a college and look around you will find posted
advertisements wanting a roommate. They usually want
a person to stay longer, but it would be lots of fun for them
to have a person sleeping on the couch for a month from a foreign

When I was in Chili a year ago, the guidebook was quite bad
on telling me good hotels, or hostels. I asked a local person how
to find a room. He said all you do is go to the bus station, and
walk around and knock on doors of houses. He called them
residencials. Not this word means a lot of things in Spanish
and sometimes that is a hotel. But it means in loose terms
their residence. So you are living in their house. I did just as
the guy told me, and knocked on doors. The first couple kept
pointing me down the street, and when people saw what I
was doing, they started to point and lead me to places. Soon
I had a home to live in, but it was not just a home. I had my
own room, and a place to wash clothes. Very nice

I am sure a negotiate price would be cheaper by the month.

Of course I understand you want to see the country. But in reality
there are so many sites to see in some places that is would take
a month of day trips to really see everything. I am in Iquitos, Peru
I am sure it will take at least one month to visit all the sites. But
this is also the same for Cuzco, Peru. There are lots of day trips
or short overnight trips to make, and when you can leave your bags
at your room, you can travel light, cheap and fast. Plus it is lot safer
and more comfortable.

I like to live in hostels, or hotels because there
are other people to talk, and share trip with in the hostels.

Just a thought.
Try to rent rooms for a month, or more!


Hobotraveler.com was here.    X

Hobo’s mark your locations so we remember.
Have fun! Life is Good!

As always, these are suggestions. Please realize I am
giving guidance, and there are always other opinions.
“One mans paradise, is another mans hell”
This way we do not all go to the same place.

Article written by Andy the Hobotraveler.com
On year 4 of Hobo trip around the world.
Budget Travel, Jobs, and Adventure, etc
Subscribe to Free Newsletter at:
You may publish this article for Free
on the internet If this box stays attached.


TODAY’S TIP FROM THE “Peanut Gallery” Fun tips
Here's a little tip from me, to you, as an experienced traveler.

If at first you don't succeed, do it like your mother told you.



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