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A Fun but Useless RTW Journal Watch me RTW in 2 days less than the maximum period I can leave NZ with my loan remaining interest free without spraining my ankle/losing all possessions/becoming a Hungarian farmer's wife. NZ - TX - Chile - Bolivia - Colombia etc

Jungle Fever

COLOMBIA | Monday, 8 August 2011 | Views [1360]

In a sudden blur, I found myself having left quiet, sedate Chile where I knew the streets, the metro stops and had made friends and all of a sudden crash landing in an Amazonian border town (literally - the budget airplane I took skidded to the side when landing in Leticia)

Despite spending one and a half months in Chile, my first day in Leticia was a constant stream of moments where I thought ¨Now THIS is the stereotypical South America¨ From the old man who I´m almost positive was a Hell´s Angel, with his long plaited grey beard and leather jacket, who I saw driving off into the jungle in which I suspect on his way to do naughty business, to the fact that the beat up taxi that dropped me off at the College had cracked glass for a windshield and especially the fact that there are soldiers EVERYWHERE, with very large guns. My biggest regret in Leticia is that I haven´t managed to get a photo of the countless families I´ve seen crammed onto one motorbike. My favourite was the family of five, with a kid at the front, Dad in the middle and Mom at the back with two toddlers on either side of her hip.

Leticia is offically Colombian, having been won off Peru in 1934. While I´m here taking lessons at a Colombian Spanish school, using Colombian money and haven´t got anything in my passport indicating I´ve been to other countries, the area is known as the Tri Frontier due to the fact that the Amazon River encompasses Brazilian, Peruvian and Colombian territory. Anytime I like, I can wander over to Brazil, strolling down a nondescript street and suddenly jumping one hour forward and into a land where Portugese is the offical language and the offical currency is different.

My constant state of being in Leticia is steady sweat. Temperatures average at 32 degrees and humidity is an ever present foe. Getting dropped into Leticia, a sea of motorcycles, dead chickens at the market and oppressive heat was a little overwhelming after staid Chile, so it was lovely to have Helen and Bea present on my first day and first week. Having taken the slow boat up from Iquitos, Peru after travelling their way through Bolivia, it was so awesome to see familiar faces in such an unfamiliar setting and reunite. Lots of stories and photos were compared, and it was great to have them around for some adventures in Brazil (Future blog. It´s all about short blogs from here on out.) We will meet back up again after my two weeks in Leticia are done, and meet in Santa Marta for two weeks of making our way down the Carribbean coastline (its a hard life) and FINALLY, nearly two months after we were supposed to begin travelling together, actually start!

Two weeks in a tiny little border town isolated from ´mainland´ Colombia by acres and acres of forest - infested with FARC and other nasty guerilla groups - I´ve come to spend two weeks at the Amazon Spanish College, to tackle my Spanish and hopefully learn lots more than I already know. In a very exciting turn of events, the student accomodation isn´t available so I got upgraded to a flash proper room (the College double as a B and B) with a double bed, ensuite bathroom, air conditioning and housekeeping each day. It´s a huge step up the shared room I was expecting, and almost too excessive. Curious, I checked out the website to see how much the room normally costs and nearly fell off my chair in sock at how much more I should be paying for what I´m getting. After two or so weeks of bunk beds and floors, my life has taken a luxurious turn.

Map of Colombia, to show just how far away Leticia is from civilisation:

Tags: amazon basin, amazonas, arriving, colombia, leticia


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