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Stage 3 - Nauta

Updated: Feb 7

We made it into Nauta the evening of the 25th of June having hitched a ride on a barge for the last few kilometres of the mighty Marañón River. It was dark and the muddy banks were crowded with a wide variety of local vessels and floating huts. We paddled the canoes round the back of a long passenger boat that was tied to a concrete structure, half sunken in the thick mud. Above us on the structure sat two men and a woman playing cards and drinking some homemade brew. Surprisingly, they didn’t seem surprised to see three gringos paddling out of the dark. That confirmed to me that we had made it to the tourist trail and despite all the comforts that awaited us, part of me was gutted to be back in modern civilisation. We arranged a price for them to watch our canoes and boat kit whilst we hauled the rest of our equipment into town for a few days. (A six pack of beer goes a long way in Nauta and when we returned to the canoes two days later, nothing had been tampered with, so we gave the lad watching a tip.)

Our primary concern was to find somewhere to stay and one of the dock men led us to a small hotel looking onto the main square. We tipped him a couple of soles, the last of our cash, and checked in with my card which was a big relief. Ahhh, the joy of hot showers and air conditioning. We made the most of, all three of us rolling and stretching our clean naked bodies on the clean sheets, whilst chatting about our next move. That was easy, we needed to find a cash machine and get a cold six pack of Crystal. We had to seriously ration our cash since entering Amazonia because of a lack of banks. Our only resupply being a Western Union in San Lorenzo. Finding a shop that takes card in Peruvian Amazonia, outside of Iquitos, is still very difficult so it’d take a lot of stress off to be able to withdraw a good amount here. However, we began to fret when we couldn’t find an ATM at the main square or at the first bank we came to. Our stress didn’t last long though, we were overjoyed when Yan spotted one halfway up an ally way and even more ecstatic when we heard the beautiful sound of notes flicking behind the slot, just before they are released. We actually hugged and congratulated each other. Tonight, the cold beers would flow! With the swagger of men with newfound fortunes we took off into town. We’d made it through some dangerous, unpredictable and wild situations, through a vast wilderness and back to civilisation, the feeling was wonderful.

Unfortunately, by the time we had cash in our pockets, the restaurants were closed so we settled for a street burger. The meat was as thin as sandwich ham, so we wolfed down two each. Next, we flagged down a tuk-tuk and ask the diver to take us “somewhere with cervezas”. We arrived at a nightclub on a hill and bought some cold beers to share with the only two other punters. After about an hour or so I realised how tired I was and made my excuses. Iquitos was just around the corner and that was the end of stage three. It was exciting to be back in civilisation, however but I wasn’t able to rise to the night as well as Yan and Jake did. I'll add here that the three of us strongly believe in the importance of bonding over beers after spending time in the field. It’s a great way to reset, address problems and look back and laugh. It helps solidify the bond that has already grown through the hardship you go through together. I'll also add that all three of us are definitely capable of kicking the arse out of it and ending up with a severe hangover. I was concerned with how I'd feel in the morning, mentally and physically and was glad to walk back to the accommodation, only half cut, in the company of the street dogs and my own thoughts. The two locals told me not to walk back alone because I’d get robbed so I deliberately chose to walk down some of the roughest streets back to the hotel. I guess I was trying to prove to myself that the area was safe but in hindsight, the decision was stupid and entirely due to too many beers.

We spent two more days in Nauta. On the second, Jake befriended a couple of Peruvian gents and sat drinking Crystal beer with them, getting the inside scoop on the area. He was loving being back in a bar but for Yan and I, the loudspeaker playing Peruvian pop at full volume was too much so we went to check on the boats then wandered the town. We went back to the bar later to find Jake and the two gents he’d been drinking with absolutely legless, and the poor elderly barmaid begged us to take them away at once. Comically, they were in the beginnings of a business transaction to buy up some land around Iquitos before we arrived to spoil the party.

Another thing to note was that Yan bought a Peruvian sim card so he could contact Cara because the Wi-Fi was down throughout the entire town. It turned out to be very useful later on, as we were due to meet Cara in a few days in Iquitos, about 150km downstream. We didn’t know it yet, but the signal on the river was quite good for about 20km around towns and some communities. This was due to huge masts that the government had installed to provide connection for rural communities. These masts also made it easy for us to locate communities as they towered high above the canopy. We did a pile of laundry; Jake and I accidently got jarhead haircuts (the Peruvian’s have great barbers if you like a high skin fade) and other than that we just ate as much as we could.  The third and final night in Nauta we devoured giant tubs of ice cream whilst watching Spanish dubbed Matrix under the hostel AC. We were lapping up the luxuries of town in every way we could. And then suddenly we were off again, with a simple three-day paddle ahead of us to Iquitos.


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16 de jan.

What an adventure!

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