Since I worked in Colombia in the 70's, I have always wanted to visit the Amazon, which defines the lower border of Colombia. On Sunday we flew into Leticia, the southernmost city, the heat hitting us as we stepped off the plane. We were met by Salomé, a charming Colombian young woman who would accompany us on all our adventures and translate as necessary. After having lunch, we left the Internet and motorized vehicles behind and boarded a small boat, which would then take us 3 hours west to Yoi Ecolodge, situated on land belonging to the Ticuna Indians. On our way we could look across the river at Brazil and Peru. Leticia is the point where the 3 countries meet.
Our cabin was constructed in the traditional style with a thatched roof. We did have an indoor bathroom, but no electricity. We had a solar-powered lantern in our room that allowed us to see how to get in and out of bed at night. We had mosquito netting over our beds. The water we drank and showered in came from rain catchments. It was life with only the basics.
Despite the lack of refrigeration and electricity, our Ticuna hosts turned out wonderful meals and treated us with the utmost in respect and kindness. One of my favorite memories of our 3 days there was waking up to a chorus of birds, insects, and frogs.
Everywhere we went required a boat ride. Our Ticuna guide was Paulo, who spoke Ticuna and Spanish. He managed to help me in and out of the boat numerous times without my falling into the water or mud. Often we were the only boat on the river, but at other times we passed other similar boats carrying supplies or people. The Amazon is a birder's paradise, with bright blue kingfishers to colorful toucans to so many varieties. Getting to and from our lodge required following a labyrinth of waterways, often taking shortcuts through narrow tunnels in the canopy.
Our outings included a visit to another town Puerto Nariño, finding the gray and the pink dolphins in the Amazon and surrounding lakes, fishing for piraña, visiting the monkey sanctuary, learning how to make a traditional woven basket, and visiting several Ticuna villages.
After 3 days without amenities and countless bug bites, we returned by boat to Leticia today. It felt wonderful to have lunch in an air-conditioned hotel. After lunch we took in the local museum.
Tomorrow we will make a final pass of the souvenir shops and then fly back to Bogota, welcoming a breath of cooler air!