A Travellerspoint blog

Tabatinga to Manaus - Riverboat

sunny 40 °C

Hmmmm... where to begin ....
I´ll start right at the beginning. We caught our flight to Leticia on time, and everything went really smoothly! I have to hand it to Aerorepublica! Great airline!
As soon as we got off the plane, I was yet again hit hard by the heat! So hot, and HUMID!! Arrggghhh. This type of climate really is not for me.

We arraived to find them ushering all tourists to one part of the airport. The part where they ripped you off yet again. They charged us a $17 peso departure tax! I was somewhat fuming, as I had no more pesos left after this.
Anyways, once we got our luggage, we went on the search for the DAS office in the airport to get stamped out of Colombia. All very above board, a kindly man showed us the way, and away we went. Obviouldy we got hassled the whole time, but we haeld our heads hight and got a taxi, ignoring the irritant talking AT us.
Then we took a taxi all the way to Tabatinga, just next door to Leticia, but is in Brazil! We made it to our last country! Woohoo. There we had to stop off at the Policia Federal, to get stamped into Brazil, and where we met a very hot police officer. Arms like I have never seen arms before, and a face so pretty, I had to put my sunglasses on to look at it. He was one of those fortunate people who have amazing tanned smmoth skin and luscious green eyes, that contrast with his skin. So beautiful. Anyways drooling asisde, we then headed off to find accommodation for the night.

The plan was to stay in Tabatinga for the night, and then book our cabin and stay on there until the boat left for Manaus, either on the Fri or sat. My guidebook clearly stated that this was fine to do.
We stayed at Hotel Katrina which to say ants in your pants is pretty darn close. The place was covered in mini ants. Not quite sure how we made it out without being eaten alive.
We popped to the Porto Fluvial de tabatinga to find out about our boat. We hopped on our motor taxis (motorbikes) adnd away we went. Alas, my driver was a very porky fellow, so we could not go raging speeds down the road, but I have to say, I love riding on the bike. Was a little highlight for me.

Once there, it was all very confusing. The place it like a big shelter, with no one around, no signs nothing. We then found out that even though the boat was docked, we could not book it until the next morning, and that we could not look at it, to see what to expect. Inevitably, we had to come back the next day, and book 2 extra nights accommodation the very dumpy town of Tabatinga. NOT HAPPY.
The guidebook also lied about boats leaving of Fridays. Not true. So should you ever wish to get this boat, I suggest you either arrive on the Tuesday or the Friday to prebook your ticket, as boats leave only Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Once back at Antsville, we checked out and seeked better accommodation. And better it was. Slightly more expensive, but this time it had the very necessary air con, and a fridge. Oh and a bathroom and lo with a door on it! Yay.
Lets just say that Tabatinga is a dump and leave it at that. You def do not want to be here any longer than necessary .
So eventually Saturday came, and we left our digs to head to the port, where chaos was already in action.
The police were there lining people up into 2 lines, and and had the sniffer dog out. Its kinda of what one would expect the first arrivals of a concentration camp went through. Bullied around, not knowing what was going on. Plus the police had a very Nazi aura about them. One even looked like one, and when he told us to ´open your bags´, he sounded just like Arnie!
The police were quite a mix. There were several very butch looking ladies, strutting there stuff in very action man like poses, with their guns, there was our Nazi friend, another guy who looked like a character from Miami vice in cycling shorts and sunglasses, and another, we can only call mouth. His mouth was a sort of upside down smile while pouting, and he marched up and down the platform holding his big rifle gun. Obviously very proud of his gun, as its all he has….
One the search was done, and doggy found no druggies in our bags (BIG SURPRISE THERE, I WAS SURE I STASHED A QUARTER IN THERE! NOT.) We then had to que again, for more bag searches. Did this ever stop???
One this was done, and might I add, the bag search was rubbish. No one, the whole time thought to check my handbag. Could´ve been anything in there. So off we went thinking the worst was over. Oh how naïve one is.

Fiona was first of all ushered into a room, and then a butch cycling shorted lady grabbed me too, yelling at me o leave my bags! ´MY BAGS´ I kept saying, to no avail. We were suddenly in a room, with several police women (were they woman, still not entirely sure..) and a girl sobbing in the corner! Dread suddenly filled my face. At first thinking they wanted to see my handbag, they shoved that out of the way and pushed me against the wall, face facing the wall, and told me to straddle! After a good fondle up and down , and jiggling all around, she then pushe both fi and I towards the bathroom. Fi thought they wanted to inspect our bras, however I was wearing a flimsy bikini top, so my dread was filling fast.
They lady then told me to drop em ( my panties that is) and my cries of ´NO´ were feeble and useless. Fi then yelled that she would turn around, so as not to look at my mini me, and the whole thing happened. Quick, but all the same incredibly violating! I kept on saying NO NO NO. Pathetic I know, but when your bits are out on show to a butch man woman in cycling shorts holding a gun, what else could I do. The it was fi´s turn and she yelled for them to sut the door (oh yeah, we had an entire auditorium filled audience for this procedure.
Then she/he with the gun started yelling at me that it was necessary, and she kept pointing at the sobbing girl in the corner. It was all so seedy, so awful, I want to forget this experience.
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Once out we then headed for the boat, loaded with our bags, we then had to walk a tightrope thin board to get onto the boat, and then wait 30 mins for our cabin. Arrgg, the heat, everything. What a day. I knew there was a reason I was anxious when I woke us this morning.
The boat trip, can only be described as awful. At least our cabin had air con, that’s all I can say. It was filled with smelly sleazy men, all lying in there hammocks, farting away. Oh how glad I was for our cabin. But 3.5 days on a boat is 3 days too long. The food was pretty awful too, which I can vouch for now, as my tummy is really feeling it today.
The boat docked at 12am, and we then got ripped off for a taxi to what can only be described as a sauna of a room. Its like it attracted heat. So no sleep, stinky and as I write this, still in my pj top, we headed out at 6am to find a drink, food, anything. We hobbled across the road to Hotel Juliana, which I will say is cheaper then our sauna, and has aircon… Fi fainted twice, completely banging up her knee, and has felt rotten all day. What a week!!!!
The worst thing is, we want to forget it, knowing it was going to be awful, we both just want to block it out of our minds, but alas, Fi now has the mother of all grazes on her knee, and cançt walk properly. I´m sort of glad we have our flight to Iguacu tomorrow, although, I just don´t know if we are gonna buckle under the stress of it. But here goes, all the same…

Posted by Lisaann 14:43 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Bogota

semi-overcast 15 °C

Wehad booked to stay in Hostel Fatima for 2 nights. 2 nights toolong i might add. it was very much the type of hostel thatold and young crusties alike like to gotoo. noise, screaming, bad music, dirt, and above all bed bugs. Fiona got bit over 15 times in one night by the buggers, and when we decided tocomplain when checking out, the staff told us we can getbite in downtown Bogota anytime, it was NOT from their beds, as much as Fiona tried to stete that we had not yet been to down town Bogota and thatthey def came from the beds, they were having none of it. Fiona was riled big time, causingthe lady to tell Fiona to get an education.hhmmmm...methinks the locals here need the educatipon more.

Anyway, we left.. and headed to Hostal Platypus. Much better. Twin room, clean, and quiet. with a good book exchange. Plus we also met a nice english chap who gave us more books, and we went out for a drink with him and a chatty autrian guy who was...errr very Austrian.

Bogota, though not much to look at for landmarks, is actually a really great place. chilled, good climate, and has a student vibe which just makes the whole place feel relaxed, and safe. there is no uneasiness here, and i have to say i am really enjoying it. Bogota is cool!
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Which is surprising as when you read the guidebooks, they make it seem like a shabby city full of crime and one to avaoid. I{m glad i didn't pay attention!!

Posted by Lisaann 16:46 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Santa Marta to Cartagena to Bogota...

sunny 40 °C

So on Friday we headed back to Cartagena, ready to have a chilled out weekend before our flight to Bogota on Monday.

We packed opur bags up and headed to the bus station, got on a bus and away we went. There was onemajor issue with the bus, and usually i would never complain, its just that it took me by complete surprise. the air con was on full whack the whole way back and i was wearing a bikini top, vest top and a lil skirt. it was FREEZING. my fingers went blue, and on top of that the bus ride ened up being 2 hours longer than it was supposed to. The weather the whole day looked rainy and stormy, so with the air con on, i had a real feeling of being back home on a winters day. only when we finally emerged from th bus, it was tipping it down, but it waslik stepping in an oven. very strange feeling. also, someone had very strange smeeling baggage near my bag in the boot, as now my bag stinks of rotten fish! eurrrgghh!

still i grabbed my stinky bag and went to find a local bus to take us to the centre of cartagena. This bus got slowly packed and i was trapped with all my bags and a girl who decided to sit with her legs wide open, so as to give me even less space. ontop of that, my legs started to go dead and i couldnt help but sort of spasm and kick my legs about to ge them working.

Soon we were dumped off the bus and somhow managed to find our way back to our hostel, which had lost our booking, and therefore stuck us in one room for the night and then made us change rooms at 2pm the next day. which meant saturday was a wasted day as we had to hang around until 2pm, and thn, of course, it startd to rain.

Suanda finally came, and this sunday we were both pitufully eager about, as it was inbetweeners day on tv, ad we had planned to stay in and just watch that. very sad, but i really have seen all of cartagena now, and rainy cartagena aint all that.

But what do you think happened, on a aunday, seems like the ony day the lazy locals decide to do something, and a truck came down our street with a guy fiddling with all the wires over th building. what happened...a powercut, which lasted 5 hours, until 8pm! we were livid, as it was scorching hot, rainy, and we had nothing to do but sit in our slowly darkeing room and wait. thank goodness the electricity finally came on, or th staff and like would have had 2 very angry girls facing them the next day.

Today, we have strolled about, and not much else, as we have our flight tonight at 9pm. very excited about moving on, feels like we are no longer just sitting abou, and actually have productive things to do again. fingers crossed my bags get through okay, as its chilly in Bogota, and im still wearing my bikini and shorts!

Continued...

So we got to the airport and everything was fine, whizzed through security and found a place that sold pasties and ate 2. yum yum..
Thne our flight was not coming up on the screen, and i was starting to panic, running around asking random airline staff where our flight was. haha

eventuallyit came,and we were only 5 mins late departing Cartagena.

There was a storm under us, and behind us the whole journey, whgich was atfirst amazing, it waslike some vreaky light show that lit up the whole sjy below us and caused amazing shapoes in the sky vecause of the clouds, the buildings and the water. it was truly out of this world, and loads of fork lighning. scary stuff.

Then it started getting scary, the lights on our plane went off, the cabin crew were told to sit and belt up the whole journey and the turbulence gave me a headache worse than a hangover. it was oainful, and i had my fingerscrossed for most of the flight, hoping, praying we would be okay.

well, as you can guess, we landed and got rhought to baggage nice and easy, got our taxi and arrived atour hostel roght on que. phew.

Posted by Lisaann 15:03 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

El Rodadero and Taganga

sunny 40 °C

For the next three days we decided to fill our days up with little trops to the surrounding beaches. First stop was El Rodadero.

El Rodadero was decribed in the book as a sort of resort beach, where lots of holiday makers go, and it didn´t disapoint on that, thats excatly how i percieved it. the sun bleating down at a massive 40 degrees we had to stay in the shade for the most part until the heavens opened and we got a bus back to Santa Marta.

El Rodaderoo is not much to look at really, but against Santa Marta is was paradise. te beach was clean and there was a much nicer feel to the place. aside from ppl coming up to us trying to sell us crap. I think i must have said no gracias about 500 times.
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The next day we ventured to Taganga, a little fihing village with a well known beach that you ave to walk over a hill to get to. its a very popular plave for tourists and locals alike, as its quite a chilled out place. and yet again, very hot and alot of people trying to sell us rubbish. Again i resisted them.

Also, i got mistaken for a local aain, when i told the guy i was British through and through, he seemed to think i must have some latino blood in me. I guess i must be getting a tan afterall...

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Posted by Lisaann 10:04 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

To Santa Marta

sunny 40 °C

On Monday we got our bus to Santa Marta. the journey took about 4 hours to get there, which was no too bad. However, once we landed in santa marta, it was not quite what we had hoped. the place was quite frankly, yet another dump. and the place where we stayed for the first 2 nights was located on a street swimming in sewage.

We soon moved on to another hotel just down the road, away from the sewage, but with the added bonus d 2 very pervy hoetl staff. Colombian men are very pervy, and i have to say, it gets very tiring. I am close to reachin breaking point with them. the constant yelling at you, staring at you whistling, ´hello baby´´ and hissing is getting on my wick!

On Thursday, we were heading to the supermarket when it started to rain. we ran into the supermarket, and figured the rain would clear soon. How wrong we were, it thumped it down for ages, and for quite a while we hung around the supermarket, hoping it may eventually end. finally we gave up and realised the rain was not going to stop anytime soon, so we made a run for the nearest shelter. once out and soaked to the bone within seconds, we tried to head back to our hotel. only the whole town was flooded knee deep in water, mud, sewage, bugs the lot. and we had to walk all the way back in it. All was not good either, beacuse i have lost so much weight, my size 2 shorts were falling down by my knees, so i had to keep scooping them up, whoilst hearing lots of jeers, whistles and whoops from the sleazy local men. it was a bit like some kind of action thriller movie, the rian puming down on us, flipflops floating under us and the fear that we may get somekind of toxic poisoning from all the sewage floating around us. never the less, we made it back, exceedingly wet and smelly and had a shower as quickly as possible, scrubbing our legs with soap as best we could. BTW Santa Marta does not know of a thing called hot water, so even after scrubbing ourselves silly, you still never really feel clean.

We were expecting much more from Santa marta beach also, which to be honest is one of the ugliest beaches i have come across. the sand is black with what appears to e sewage, and to even go near the beach as 2 white girls, is a no no, as the men just head straight to you. so no beach time here.

The place stinks of sewage, one street the stewage just sits there like a motionless lake, and the locals sit outside, eating and drinking breathing in the smell and looking at it all day.

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We went to the Parque Nacional Tayrona on Saturday, whic judging from our guidebooks would be a total highlight for the trip. however it turned out to be quite the opposite. I wouldn´t say it was bad, just not worth all the fuss, or the money. The day cost about 20 pounds, and our driver was not only late, but at the nd of the day he never turned up, so we had a ´loveñy hour long walk in near darkness down a seclued road in the jungle. to say i was a little scared was an unertatement. when we finally reache the end, we had to get a bus back to town and dropped off in the most stinkiest maret ever.

Anyways back to the day in the park, the main hghlight was when we heard a loud thump on our taxi and looked roun to see a massive lizzard, iguana type creature just toddling along the road. I named him Sid, he looked like a Sid!

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on another note, i weirdly i got mistaken for a colombian local....

after that we had to walk for about an hpour through the jungle, i was covere in mud afterwards, before finally making it to the supposed most beautiful beaches ever. they were not by the way. not bad, but not fab!

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On the way back, i saw monkeys though. that was cool! hehe and of course, me being me fell utt first into some very gooey, mud! what joy!

We are lookng to go to a little fishing village called Taganaga this next week, before eading bac to Cartagena where we will visit the Isla Del Rosario, before taking a flight to BOGOTA! WOO!

Posted by Lisaann 10:50 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

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