Rafting the Amazon: Indigenous Village

Indigenous Village

The good sleep renewed my energy and I was more optimistic about finishing the journey. We said our good-byes and thank you’s to the villagers and pushed off. The first hour or so on the water was perfect. There was no wind, the water was smooth and the current strong.

View from the raft

View from the raft

Then the winds picked up again. We reached another bend in the river and the winds forced us against the shore. We paddled hard and made distance from the shore. A few minutes down river we were forced once again to the shore. Again we broke away and reached a very wide river bend where a smaller river converged into the main river. The open space gave the winds more fetch and quickly forced us to the shore and into a stock of reeds. We were stuck among the reeds for quite a while. The winds and swirling current kept us pinned to the shore. A few boats passed, Pali whistled to get their attention, but no one stopped to help. Finally, nature gave us a break. The winds paused and we paddled through the reeds and to the center of the river. The rest of the day was a continual struggle against the whirlpools and winds. I was tired, my hands were sore and my back hurt from being hunched over the oar all day.

I did not ask for this picture!

I did not ask for this picture!

That evening we saw another village along the shore. It was hard to reach the village since the current was strong and it was on the opposite side of the river. We reached the village and met only a few people at the shore. We followed a path to a cluster of shelters. I then realized that it was an indigenous community. They had the distinct indigenous face of the area, even though they wore Western clothing. One woman, however, preferred to go bare breasted. She quickly put on a shirt when she saw the strangers. The indigenous villagers were not as outgoing as the people we met the previous evening. They did not speak to us much and gave us only glancing looks. I felt like we were intruding on their daily routines, which we were.

That night we borrowed a mosquito net from one of the villagers and slept in the raft. The evening was a special occasion. Pali and I had known each other for two years. We celebrated with a shot of rum. In the middle of the night I made the mistake of opening the mosquito net to go to the bathroom. The mosquitoes flew inside the net and once again the little critters had a tasty meal.

Next: The Final Stretch »

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