What started out in my mind as a two week long Amazon adventure slowly became a fast-paced transit journey as my time in South America is quickly coming to an end and I’m running on a clock. I’m not worried though. As one traveler pointed out, “It’s perfectly okay to leave a few reasons to return to a place.” Alas, my proper Amazon adventure will have to wait for a future date, but after discovering some new intel along my initial journey, I’m glad my travel plans worked out the way they did. In the end, I spent two days in Leticia, Colombia, three days on a ferry and two days in Iquitos, Perú before landing back in civilization in Lima, Perú.
Reacquainted with Airports
The first leg of my journey to the south began with a flight from Bogotá to Leticia as this is the only viable option for traveling to this tiny jungle town. I felt a little awkward though heading to my first airport in over seven months. Being so acquainted with bus terminals recently, I was worried that I would make some classic amateur move like packing sharp objects in my carry-on or forgetting about the 100mL liquid rule. Thankfully, I made no gaffes and gliding through the terminal was like riding a bike. I was logged on to the wifi network and sipping my first beer in the airport bar with no problem.
Arrival in Leticia was a novelty as is usually the case when you land at a very small airport. It’s always a shock how quickly you arrive to the gate and then you watch in awe as your baggage makes it way to the terminal in record breaking time. After getting my baggage and paying the impuesto for entering Leticia, I quickly reviewed a map and decided that I could walk to my hostel. This turned out to be an amateur move as it was blazing hot and the map made locations look deceivingly close. I arrived at my hostel properly famished and soaked to the bone in sweat, but I still told myself it was fun to walk from the airport to my hostel because how many times does one have the opportunity to do that?
The Jungle Lodge
The town of Leticia itself didn’t have much to offer the casual traveler with limited time so I spent the majority of my time relaxing at the jungle lodge and socializing with the quirky owner, Gustavo, who boasted about how “open” the showers were. I actually spent the majority of the time grilling him for advice on taking the slow boat to Iquitos. I have heard mixed stories up to this point regarding safety issues and the frequency of theft aboard the boats so I was considering taking the rapido, the fast boat which takes only 10 hours. His stories were not the least bit comforting. He basically told me that the rapido boatmen would not accept my non-mint condition American dollars and I was sure to be robbed even if I did procure a “filthy cabin”. Great, really looking forward to this now!
I decided to bide my time in Leticia and quell my fears of being robbed with a brief walk into the neighboring border town of Tabatinga, Brazil. Normally, Americans need to shell out some serious coinage to be granted a visa for entry in Brazil, but I heard that passage between the border towns was unrestricted so I thought it would be fun to say I was “in Brazil” for a bit. The town turned out to be a further walk than I anticipated and as I was in a delicate physical state regarding women’s issues, I decided it was best to turn back and rest at the hostel. After I started feeling better, I went for a canoe ride in the pond and sang to the turtle I had seen swimming earlier. I was also glad to see that I picked up some paddling skills from my time on the shrimp farm. Like a pro, I maneuvered my way around the oddly shaped pond and managed to disembark without flinging my camera or myself back into the pond. I then spent the rest of my day mentally preparing for the next three days aboard the thieving slow boat to Iquitos.