LANCHA pt. 3: filling up

On the third day the ship was entirely in a routine. I awoke late for breakfast (café con leche) but so did everyone else – apparently if we are to be served the same every day then we are not as excited to rush. I noticed pretty early on that I’d been mistaken in my assumption that because of my precautions against mosquito bites had worked for the past few days, I no longer needed to take them. I woke up to find a healthy 20 bites about my feet and legs. I had been so confidant in my shorts for protection but their weaknesses became immediately clear to me. The bites itched like hell for the next 3 or 4 days. Mosquitoes here don’t play around: the bites are about 3 times larger and a sight more itchy than those of their American cousins. The mosquitoes were also more devious and I had numerous bites on the soles of my feet. For the next few days it was terrible to walk in sandals and shoes burned like fire.

I spent little time in my pueblito instead in the restless spirit of my trip I decide to play the social butterfly flitting from floor to floor. The time passed lazily as whiled away the hours playing cards, drawing the scenery, taking photos as we stopped to load and unload cargo. People would get on and off the boat but more would get on than off and soon the boat began to become crowded. By the evening meal the landscape of the second floor had completely changed and our small backwater pueblito had become a bustling city complete with a bustling nightlife, food vendors and possibly a criminal underworld. It was so crowded that people would board the boat with hammocks and have no place for them. This is astonishing for anyone who has traveled in a boat where everyone slept in hammocks because, alternating high and low, you can fit more people into a small space in hammocks than any other method of bedding. That night people slept in the doorways and with the animals on the prow of the boat. Upstairs Gemma faced a problem because a two very large women had moved in so close to her that they simply could not both be in their hammocks at the same time. Every time Gemma sat down in her hammock the woman would cry out in pain but greeted any attempt at talking it out with cold, grim stonewalling. She knew she was in the wrong but she simply was not going to sleep out in the cold.

Our pueblito’s new immigrants posed another problem as well: with all this movement our baggage was no longer secure and constant guard was placed on our bags. But late that night while the pueblito circled wagons I donned my long pants and other mosquito protection and headed out to the explore Cantamana, a passing town, with some friends (Pedro, Gemma and Patty) from the boat. They were excited because the town had a telephone and they could call their families.

That night I stayed up looking at the stars a bit longer. Then went back to my pueblito and passed out.

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