Travelling is the best thing ever and I bloody love it. I’m well lucky to get to do it all the time and most days I wake up like “how is this even real life”. But some days are shit, and this week I had my worst travel day ever.
After four incredible days in the Amazon jungle, it was time to go home. Well, to my Medellin home. The trip was always going to suck a bit, but it sucked such an incredible amount that all the way through the day I was thinking “thank fuck I can at least write about this on my blog”. The day was disastrous, frustrating, and lasted a grand total of 20 hours. Here’s what happened.
Problema #1 – Jungle Juice
On our final afternoon in the Amazon, my pals and I decided that drinking a bottle of rum would be a good idea. The community we were staying with mix it with a syrup made from tings you find in the jungle, so we did as they do and worked our way through the entire bottle. Not satisfied with that mean feat we toddled off to the shop for mas ron (that’s more rum to you English speaking pals). They didn’t got no ron so instead, we settled on four litres of vodka mixed with an incredibly sweet lemon-flavour juice. Even as I type this my stomach is turning from the thought of that disgusting jungle alcopop.
When I stumbled into bed I was pissed. Like, proper. That’s usually fine, but we had to get up at 4 am to leave for the airport. When my alarm went off I felt so nauseated that I couldn’t even brush my teeth for fear of triggering my gag reflex. As I clambered into the first boat in the darkness it was all I could do not to cry/vomit/throw myself overboard. I continued to feel like that for the entire five hours that we were on the Amazon river, and as I sat nibbling dry crackers trying to avoid throwing up on a boat full of strangers I can safely say that I’ve never felt as sorry for myself in my entire life.
Problema #2 – So much Fucking Rain
One month ago I lost my beloved laptop because of rain. It was on my desk in my bedroom, I was in the kitchen cutting up a mango, and when I returned it was soaked in rainwater. IT HAD RAINED INSIDE, DIRECTLY OVER MY DESK. What? Little did I know, a similar fate would befall my celly, too. On the first boat while I was trying hard not to projectile it started to rain. Like, rainforest rain that soaks you in about 20 seconds. Our boat didn’t have a roof and for reasons that I will fail to understand for the rest of my life, the tour organizers hadn’t brought the dry bags that were for this specific purpose. So, we were forced to sling our stuff under a poncho and hope for the best.
Sadly, the outcome was the opposite of the best: my bag was positioned directly underneath the poncho’s head hole and it received a proper dousing. My phone, money, passport, notebook, and all my other possessions got fucked by the agua. Not having a phone caused many problems, which I’ll discuss in a different post, but the loss of my notebook and the seven months of writing within was a real shitter. Also, paying with soaking wet money for the rest of the day was a bit embarrassing. I mean, it was clear that every shop keeper I encountered was seriously unimpressed at the thought of handling my dripping wet currency.
Problema #3 – Pooing/Sex Traffickers
I wasn’t the only hungover person on the boat, and the copious amount of Jungle Juice we’d smashed the night before had made my mate Adele’s bowels volatile AF. We were chatting on the boat when all of a sudden she got this wild look in her eyes and declared that she really needed a poo. Luckily the boat pulled over to pick up new passengers and there was a shop nearby with a bathroom that she could use.
En route to the shop, our tour guide told Adele that the owners of the store had been involved in a child sex ring. This awful man, his wife, and his son had allegedly been offering to take young girls from local families and send them to Peru for better work and education prospects. Instead, the bastards actually sold them into sex slavery.
They only got three months in jail which is clearly not justice, so Adele administered her own unique form of punishment. Once she’d finished evacuating her damaged bowels she strolled back on to the boat leaving a full brown horror show in her wake. My pal Christie went with her and can confirm that this sequence of events definitely happened (poor lass witnessed the aftermath with her own eyeballs).
Problema #4 – Boats without Fuel
Back on the river, we chugged along still feeling hideously sorry for ourselves, when suddenly the boat’s engines stopped running and everything went quiet. El capitan muttered Spanish swears as he marched up and down the boat trying to find out why we’d just become lost at sea (well, river). He then spent 45 minutes turning the boat off and on again until he finally admitted what was so bloody painfully obvious: he’d run out of fuel.
Let’s just take a second to really appreciate how fucking dumb that is. This boat company does one thing. It drives up and down the Amazon river EVERY SINGLE DAY. BETWEEN TWO FIXED POINTS. How is it possible to miscalculate how much fuel is required for that journey? Tosspots. They’re lucky Adele didn’t choose to inflict her vigilante justice on them, too (I’m very grateful she didn’t).
Problema #5 – Planes without Schedules
We finally got off the river having lost one phone, control of one bowel, and our collective will to live. Rocking up to the airport we were ready to get our mosquito bitten asses out of the jungle and back to Medellin. But the gods of aviation were not smiling down on us that day. Our plane was delayed by three hours. This meant that I would miss my connection in Bogota and that my lovely pals would be subjected to an eight-hour journey that should have been just four.
Being eternally broke, missing my connection and buying a new flight was not an option so I set about arguing at the check-in desk in very shit Spanish. Eventually, and I have no idea how, I was booked on a different flight to Bogota with a different airline. That flight would give me just 30 minutes to make my next flight, and if you’ve ever travelled with me you’ll know that I like to arrive AT LEAST three hours early for every trip I take. I was a ball of stress for the two-hour flight and as soon as it landed I was one of those dickheads pushing to get my bags and get off the plane first (I hate those people and I know you do too).
You should have seen me running through the airport. Hungover belly churning, Amazon-induced stench wafting along with me, back fat wobbling hard enough to give me whiplash. I got to the gate with minutes to spare and used that time to buy and eat a family-sized bag of crisps because I was a sad and stressed (they wouldn’t take my wet money until I almost started crying because I needed crisps so badly).
I’m writing this four days after our ordeal and I feel like the emotional trauma is still with me. One thing’s for sure, I’m never drinking jungle juice again.
Photos by the super brilliant Swiss Tom.
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