Sunday, July 24, 2011

Manaus Brazil to Tabatinga/Leticia Colombia – Another River Boat Cruise Adventure, Crossing South America entirely by boat for 2,000 miles! Spiritual Enlightenment and words of Wisdom from Alex Chacon on his Modern Motorcycle Diaries.

So after being smuggled on board by the tour operator, I was faced with a big problem.

Everyone had gotten there early to put up their hammocks.

The tour guide was supposed to go early and get a spot for me according to the services they provide for you, but I was given that awful excuse why he couldn’t, so I was stuck with another stupid thing to deal with.

And when you’ve spent the night in the hospital, dehydrated and sick, anything will stress you out.

So I found the best place I could, right above somebody else.

On my other river boat cruise an elbow to the head at 3 am was a common occurrence. Here a 3am kick to the face and elbow to the spine was the most common of things happening to me. Besides the regular being shoved and pushed around as people couldn’t get through to their stuff because I was in the way.

Hammock War

It was quite fun, at least that’s what I kept telling myself so as to not go crazy. But in all honesty it truly was a fun experience; I’ve realized I love doing these crazy ridiculous things.



The days on the river boat went very quickly unfortunately, half the time was spend recovering from my illness. The ship food was very redundant with beans, rice, pasta and chicken.

It’s ok the first two days then it gets pretty boring. But I’m a man who eats because I have to, so not problem there.


Worst part was that it was super fatty, cooked with lots of butter and such, so my stomach wasn’t handling it well as those antibiotics completely destroyed the normal bacterial flora of my stomach. So I didn’t eat for a day or two until the normal flora of my stomach returned.

All that weight I gained throughout this journey was completely gone by the time I got off the boat.

Shower/bathroom of the boat. And the water in the toliet is brown because its river water

Stopped at a random little Amazonas village to unload goods.


And made some friends from Peru on the boat, they were my hammock neighbors.



I also took these recuperation  days to analyze the relationships of the Brazilians in the country side aka Amazon rural area, which perhaps relates to the rest of the people of the country s well.

It seems that the men here are very dominant over the females. The word “Machismo” defines it very well, meaning that the man dominates the relationship completely. They see the woman as an object or conquered trophy to have, treats her way they sees fit, tells her what to do, where to go and leaves her to attend the children by themselves.

Many of the men seemed more focused on having a wife just for the sake of having one; no falling in love or such it seems for some.

What I saw was plenty of kids running around being taken care of by the women while he men sat upstairs drinking beer the entire day without coming down. In fact I saw many men not ever talk to the women or sleep close by to their family the entire boat trip of 5 days on both river boat cruises.

After the third day some people disembarked the boat and I got a better spot to put up my hammock. I even made friends with a mom and daughter from Peru at my new location.

Needless to say they were baffled by my helmet and I explained my now crazy story to them which they liked.

Now that I write about it, by the time I finish this journey it truly will be a crazy, ridiculous, amazing and epic journey to say the least. And that makes me happy.

Everyone can achieve their dreams you just need to try. Just like this trip, many tell me they wish they had the opportunity to do such a thing or have time for it, saying it’s not the right time and such.

The reality of things is that we all can make the time, and make the opportunity to do such an adventure.  It’s never a good time to do something like this, it’s a sacrifice, I too had to sacrifice many things to do this. I am very glad I did, but for those being held back by whatever reason you’d like to give, everyone on this journey I’ve met has lost and sacrificed to be here. So it’s not easy, but I assure you the rewards are well worth it.

So the entire boat trip was spent looking at sunsets and most importantly, recollecting on this journey, what it means to me, what’ I’ve learned, what I’ve experienced, my past, present and future along with perusing some philosophical enlightenment, and the creation of some words of wisdom and quotes I came up with to express my thoughts and profound spiritual being, to which I’ll share with you along with the sunsets.

The only time I've ever really worn sandals in my life!

Liberation from cell phones has allowed me to see and truly understand the hold and ball and chain effect these little devices have on our lives. We have become so complacent on the idea that we need such a device to be happy, which in fact blinds us to the molding of the complete mechanistic society we have become and fit into, creating our enclosed box environment that shields us into a comfort zone destined only to the confines of our own suppressed free thoughts, aka the living in a box effect. We have been so over stimulated with media, magazines and such that we have become numb to the true reality of things, so much so that we accept this artificial life we have been told is normal and accept it. To be liberated from such a thing has been the most wonderful experience to truly live as a “human”, free, open minded, and spiritually at peace. Not worrying about who I need to keep in contact with, who I need to call or who needs to call me, or having my personal space or time taken by those at any given moment at the click of a button. I believe we should all be completely liberated from cell phones for duration of time in our lives to truly become “human” once again. 



We must be unplugged from the Matrix from time to time before we become the Matrix itself, otherwise we will never know this matrix even existed, aka complete assimilation into the McDonalds/Abercrombie/Vogue Magazine life we have been spoon fed from birth. Live outside the box, not inside.



“Every man dies, not every man lives”

“It’s when we lose everything we have that we truly gain everything”



“If you’re going to do something, do it right…Go Big or Go Home!”

“Life is always changing, so should you”

Next point: It’s amazing that throughout this journey I’ve had the opportunity to see diseases and human mutations I’ve only read about in medical books or seen on TV. The sad thing is that because of lack of education, people do not fully understand what these things are, and the individuals that suffer from it become permanent outcasts to the rest of their people. Dwarfism, Elephantitus, leprosy, tumors, cancer, malnutrition, gangrene, mental disabilities, Down syndrome and many more. I’ve in turn also come to appreciate the human nature of caretaking much more, as in some places, these individuals are cared for by the family and integrated into the community as if nothing was physically or mentally different with them, which gave me a wonderful feeling many times throughout this journey. But equally as bad are the ones who are thrown to the streets to die.



“You can lie to everyone in this world, but you can never lie to yourself…”

“Make life work for you, not the other way around”



“The way you do one thing, is the way you do everything”

“It’s not until you’re close to death, that one realizes what truly matters to you”

Next point: The rest of the world is so much proficient at bilingual education in their respected country, why does the US lack so badly on teaching a foreign language in the United States. I’ve met so many travelers that speak two languages, not a single one I’ve met speaks only one. The US is way behind on this important ability and understanding.



I sometimes I really think that being completely naïve to things would produce s greater output of happiness over the long run. What do you think?

There are so many people in the world, its mind boggling!



There is so much poverty in the world it’s sad.

The world is such an immensely beautiful place.

I don’t think we can truly understand where we come from or interpret who we are until we see and get to know the rest of the world first.



Everyone in the western hemisphere is American. They are a part of the Americas thus they are American no? (Thought provoked by a Colombian who called himself an American)

So that’s it for the time being on some observations and words of wisdom.

So now on my final day on this boat I’ve realized that I have completely traversed almost the entire width of South America east to west entirely by boat down the Amazon and Rio Negro River. From the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, thousands of kilometers covered, many days on a boat but not many people can say they’ve done that. So yet another crazy achievement.

As we arrived at the Tabatinga port I waved good bye to the nice ladies from Peru and wished them well as they headed off to Peru.

I then headed to find a hostel. We arrived 2 days ahead of schedule, it was Thursday, and my flight from Leticia Colombia wasn’t until Monday, so plenty of time to kill.

As I was walking along the street full loaded with my backpack, a guy on a moto taxi stops from across the streets and starts yelling at me to wait up. Of course I just kept walking, he wasn’t the first moto taxi to stop and offer his services to me that day.

He explained that his brother had a hostel and such and he would take me there for free.

This part win the award for “Ummm… I don’t think so” moment. As the poor guy was slurring his speech I thought it was because he was a bit mentally slow, but I thought the worst and told myself he looked intoxicated(later I found out he really was intoxicated). So 60 lbs of backpack plus my 175 lbs of self on the back of a 125 cc moto taxi being operated by an over sized man under the influence of alcohol,ummm…. 

Yeah, I don’t think so.

I gave him my thanks and kept walking.

I eventually found a hostel, which was the same one the guy on the moto taxi was going to take me to. 

Bargained it at $10 Reals per day aka around $6 US. Again you have to bargain with everything around here.

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The next day I decided to head over to Leticia Colombia. It’s neighboring Tabatinga and not too far a walk.

I was going to stamp myself out of Brazil to go t the Federal Police station, which is where you have to do it in Tabatinga, but was told I only had 24 hours to make it to the Bogota airport where immigration for Colombia is.

So that means that I can freely cross the border from Brail to Colombia no questions asked. And that’s what everyone was doing.

After being in Brazil for so long, getting into Colombia and being able to proficiently speak with the people in Spanish was AMAZING!

I was very happy to say the least. Back to a fluent language I know. So I went on a, talk to everyone on the street binge”. I asked as many people as I could for directions just to talk Spanish with them, I even asked for directions 2 or 3 time to the same place just to speak and fully understand people. As much as I like Brazil it was tuff not being able to converse proficiently.

On the road to the center I was honked at by a passing moto taxi. He stopped over and took off his helmet. 

And wouldn’t you know it, it was a guy I met on the boat from Manaus to here. He had told me he worked as a taxi driver, and we randomly bump into each other on the street.

I told him I had to go to the airport on Monday and if he wanted some business then. He was cool, agreed and gave me a good price of $2 US to get me there. So I’ll see him again on Monday….maybe.

Nothing too exciting in Leticia, just more tours into the Amazon. I did however take the opportunity to buy some souvenirs for the family for the first time on this trip. Seeing my ultimate end is near I can start carrying useless things like gifts around.

Estimated time of departure: 2 weeks left before I go home! How time flies, what a bummer.

Taking a plane to Bogota Colombia where I’ll fly out back to the USA.

Until next update chau!