Nine months, nine countries – South America in photos and stats!

11th April 2013. Nine months today since our family of five touched down in Rio de Janeiro on a BA flight from Heathrow, London to begin our Family Gap Year travelling around the world.

Our journey so far…

We’ve almost done a (kind of squashed) figure of 8 around the continent, flown or boated to islands in the Pacific and Atlantic and are now in Santiago, enjoying our last days before flying to Easter Island (part of Chile) and then on to Tahiti in French Polynesia.

Nine months, Nine countries. Our Family Gap Year journey so far...

Nine months, Nine countries. Our Family Gap Year journey so far…

We’ve been to More

Amazing Amazon – Diary Day 22 Brazil, Peru and one night in Columbia

It’s been another long stretch without WiFi or phone signal, we’ve arrived in Ecuador, another 1000km+ of river and lots of draft diary entries lined up waiting to have photos attached and be posted, but I had a gutting technology crisis a few days ago when about 30 email and blog drafts simply ‘disappeared’ from my iPhone which has kept me and is still keeping me busy recreating them as our river journey has come to an end!!

So, to catch up. Back to Brazil and Day 22 of our journey along the Amazon….

We wake hot, tired and sticky about 8am in the Hotel Real, Tabatinga, complete with dead cockroach in shower, room bookings by the hour (nice!) and with Ben’s bed shoved against the door with a dubious looking lock! It was our last night in Brazil and cost the immense total of £6. We’ve had a good nights rest and it’s been nice to sleep all together in a huge room after our tiny cabin on the boat!

Door security at Hotel Real

Martin and Zoe set out to find out about a public speedboat for tomorrow and about passport formalities, whilst Ben, Lara and I get packed up again…drag everything downstairs and sit in the bar on the now buzzing high street where we arrived a few hours earlier in the dead of night!

Martin and Zoe pick us up in a taxi, having purchased speedboat tickets and we’re heading the 10 minutes or so across the border to Columbia and the town next door, Leticia. There’s an open barrier on the road at the border but cars drive and people walk freely back and forth.

The twin towns of Tabatinga and Leticia where Brazil, Columbia and Peru meet.

After some driving around and asking for directions in the unmarked roads of Leticia we find Malokamazonas guest house. It’s a little oasis tucked away just off the main drag where we have a lovely welcome from Francisco and are shown to our pristine two room accommodation hidden in a jungly garden with plunge pool and covered seating areas.

We head off for lunch as everyone is famished. Francisco walks us down the road to find us a nice restaurant and we find the bank for a small stash (just a few hundred thousand) of Columbian pesos to last us the day!

Lunch in Leticia, Columbia

A few hundred thousand pesos, enough for the day!

….then he arranges for his taxi driver friend Jose to take us off to get our passport formalities done.

First, it’s back to Brazil and the police HQ for exit stamps, then back to Columbia and down to the waters edge where there’s an almost dry creak which Jose leads us across some planks, through a village and sugar cane field and out to the river Amazon again where we walk across mud flats to a small pontoon and take a long boat taxi across river to Santa Rosa, Peru.

Walking the plank on the way to Peru!

As we cross river there’s a sudden pick up of wind and torrential rain comes from nowhere! On the other side we clamber out drenched and glug through mud and rain to a waiting mototaxi, trying not to lose flip flops! The taxi skids from side to side up the hill through more mud and still driving rain into the one street town and to the police immigration post! It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride but we love it and the kids squeal their way through it!!!

Crossing the Amazon

to Santa Rosa, Peru.

At the police station it’s a bit tricky to fill in the forms with rain pouring off us but we manage, the kids get stamps on their arms then run around outside seeing if it’s possible to get more drenched, to the apparent amusement of one or two bystanders, sheltering more sensibly from the rain. Welcome to Peru!

Outside Santa Rosa immigration office in the rain

We take the mototaxi back to the river and the boat goes around to the main docks in Leticia where we have another wade through sinking mud in the rain back to the town and wander back like drenched rats to our guest house!

Drenched girls, head back to Columbia!

By the time we’re showered and changed and the rain lets up we’ve missed the gathering of thousands of parrots in the local park and all feel rather disappointed but Jose comes back and takes us to a pizza place near his home and he and his sons join us for the biggest pizza we ever saw! We have a unexpectedly pleasant evening chatting with him, trying to get started with our Spanish, trying to stop using the basic Portuguese words that now come so easily. The kids play iPhone games together and Ben tries fresh mulberry juice which is delicious and declared ”just like Oma’s blackberry mouse’ at home”.

Our huge pizza, too much even for eight of us!

No language problems when you play iphone games!

Cheers! Delicious Mulberry Juice!

Back at Hotel Malamazonas, Francisco kindly offers sandwiches for our journey tomorrow since we’ll be leaving very early and missing breakfast. We set out alarms for 2.30am, aaarghhhh…

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