Home in One Piece!

Well I’ve made it back home to Blighty, and it’s bloody freezing!

I met up with P in Barranquilla, and spent a few days with him in his apartment, where he showed me how to trade on the Forex markets and walked around Shakira’s hometown. He lives on the outskirts so needed to get a bus into the centre, and the one day I decided to walk it absolutely bucketed it down! As in gushing torrents of rain down the roads! Apparently there’s lots of problems with flash floods there, and I can definitely see why!

Because he was on the outskirts though, after a few days I was itching to move on again, and given how close I was I wanted to cross the Equator while I had the opportunity. I had the choice of Quito in Ecuador or Leticia in Colombia, and in the end went for Leticia as it was an internal flight and therefore cheaper from Barranquilla. P had shown me videos he’d taken when he was there of similar downpours, so seems it’s par for the course in Colombia!

Leticia’s deep in the Amazon rainforest, right on the southeast corner of Colombia and part of the tres fronteras (3 borders), where Colombia, Brazil and Peru all meet at a point. Indeed, there’s an open border between Leticia and Tabatinga in Brazil (it’s like one big town with an arbitrary border), with Peru on the other side of the Amazon. Walking from the airport, I was accosted by a hostel owner who asked if I had somewhere to stay; I said no, so he took me to his hostel in Tabatinga on the back of his scooter.

That night, the same guy said the other people were all going out to sample a traditional hallucinogenic ‘potion’ (P had mentioned about that too, so I wasn’t going in completely blind) – I think it was ayahuasca, but I’m not exactly sure – so off on the scooter I went to a little hut maybe 10 mins out of Tabatinga. Inside, there were maybe 5 of us, and three, I guess, local shaman (shamen?). We all took a shot of this stuff, and were invited to lie back on the floor, while the shaman created an atmosphere with chanting, drumming the floor and brushing against it with bits of old tree.

Try as I might, I really couldn’t see a thing! After maybe 40 minutes, they turned the lights back on and offered a second shot, which I and a couple of the others took. However, by this point, one of the side effects was beginning to take issue, namely incessant vomiting! We were running out of this little hut to go and throw up in what I guess was the garden – and boy did we throw up! Lovely.

Alas; the next morning I investigated taking a river boat on the Amazon, either to Iquitos in Peru or up to Manaus in Brazil, but by this point I think I’d run out of momentum a bit. When I’d started planning this trip, I’d only really thought of Central America, but here I was planning impromptu trips up the Amazon, and to be honest I was wondering where it was all going to end. I had no reason to go to either of the places, and knew nothing about what to do in either of them, so decided it was probably best to call it a day. I only stayed that one night in Tabatinga, and flew back to Bogota the day after, and after a few phone calls home managed to sort a flight back to London the day after that.

So there we are! Four months on, nine countries later, having had some incredible experiences and met some wonderful people, it’s all come to an end! I’ve had an amazing time, and here’s looking forward to the next adventure, wherever that may be!

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