The speedboat to Santa Rosa, and into Colombia.
Iquitos Travel Blog› entry 19 of 26 › view all entries
Today is the day of the big speedboat trip to Santa Rosa. I woke up to both of my alarms at 4:15am, and started in to my packing duties. I was done in about an hour, and even had time to say hello to my buddy Henry on instant messenger before packing up the computer for the trip. I packed differently for this one. I had two different carry-on's. And I brought my rain gear and my toilet/day trip essentials along so that they were there for easy access.
There was a small group waiting for one of three boats waiting at the dock. My was easily identified, and after about 15 minutes my bags had been smiffed by the drug dog, and checked in. The boat could hold about 40 people in a 2 by 2 configuration, and since I was early I took a seat about four rows from the back on the left side next to the window.
We took off, and in a short amount of time we were on the Amazon and making good time. It was a smooth ride, and there was a good breeze coming in the windows, which almost everybody had open. We were served a breakfast with coffee which was surprisingly tasty, and they handed out newspapers so people had something to do. I pulled out my laptop and did some blogging. This is certainly a first for me... blogging on a speedboat. I also had finally remembered to bring my USB GPS device. I hooked it up and instantly got a signal.
The boat was averaging about 35mph (57kph) the whole way. There was a bathroom on board, but I was not anxious to check it out. It was a bit difficult to get very comfortable on board. My favorite position with my left arm out the window, resulted in painful lines in my skin made by the window tracks. Even so, my iPod has enough battery power, and the laptop was turned on every hour or so to check progress and save battery.
We only stopped about five times to drop off packages and passengers along the way. When had some lunch, which was pasta with a hunk of pork and rice. Again, it was very good, and it was served with a choice of coca-cola or inka-cola.
While waiting I was approached by Carlos, a guide from Leticia who spoke some english. He helped me through the procedure, and got me on the right boat to Leticia. On the way we were stopped by the Colombian Coast Guard for a check. Colombian President Uribe is currently in Leticia for a meeting with Brazilian and Peruvian representatives, and security is tight. Once at the dock I changed some money, and Carlos guided me to a few hotels.
I was willing to forego my wi-fi requirement in this small frontier town, but was going to insist on a nice, cheap place with good a/c.
The next place was the bet of the lot, and I was more then prepared to stay there if the price came down a bit. Again the owner would not move at all, and I now I was very unhappy. I gave Carlos 10,000 pesos and told him I would look on my own. I did appreciate the help, but he was really cramping my style. 10,000 is more then $5 so he came out ok on the deal.
I headed downtown and came upon the Hotel Amazonas. I checked out a room and was quoted the printed price of 70,000. When I asked for cheaper the price instantly came down. I feel a bit bad about the whole thing. The desk girl was very young, and I think I took out my previous hotel frustrations on her. She even had to call somebody to get permission to go as low as I wanted, but I got it down to 45,000 and took the room. Lesson learned. DO NOT go into a hotel with a guide if you want the best price. I knew this and usually avoid the situation, but I never thought the difference would be so pronounced.
I hit an internet cafe, and checked out all of the restaurants in the area.
BTW, the electricity went out for 30 minutes in the hotel, and there was a good size frog in the shower. I still really like the place, and the A/C is very cold. Tomorrow I will check into an airline ticket to Bogota, and get my passport stamped for Colombian entry.