“Hola, como estas jovenes?” An elderly men is descending the hill towards us. His arm spread wide like a Jesus statue and around his neck a cross. He`s only one black and white outfit away from looking like a priest. Sweat drops make their way down from my forehead towards my jaw. After our jungle tour we wanted to see a bit more from the Amazon. Puerto Nariño, a small ecovillage, a two hour boat from Leticia, appeared to be our Mekka. We walk up the muddy hill. It`s challenging us. With flip-flops, a backpack on my back and a smaller version on my front it`s not an easy task, especially considering the insane high temperature and the equally insane humidity. Juan, the hostel owner, shows us around. The dorm, the kitchen, the doors that everybody had to keep shut to keep the monkey`s outside, the parrots, the cats, the dogs. It`s a true Zoo. The atmosphere is laid back. Everything is possible. We settle into the dorm which appeared to be our own private gigantic bedroom for the next couple of days. During dusk, we say goodbye to the sun, which says goodbye to us in return by leaving an impressive coloring above the jungle when it sets down behind the horizon.
The screen in the airplane shows 10:30. We have been flying over nothing but jungle for 1.5 hours. It reaches as far as the horizon. Here and there a river breaks through the green infinity. There is nothing but green trees, shrubs, no signs of indigenous villages. The airplane descents, the green infinity starts to show its details. Gigantic trees start showing their form. We go down quicker and quicker and with a smooth bounce, the airplane lands on Amazonian ground. The doors of the aircraft open and the fresh, humid air of tropical rainforest greets our noses. It reminds me of my time in the tropical greenhouses in the zoo, causing lovely memories to pop up in my mind again. We wait for our luggage at the improvised luggage carousal, which needs a firm kick from one of the attendants every few minutes to keep it going. The large amount of artificial Christmas trees which glide past on the conveyor keep the surprised tourists entertained. One has got to admit, this is a bit of a strange sight, given we are in the largest and greenest heart of the world. We change our long Bogota-proof jeans to khaki-green shorts and a t-shirt. We are enthusiastically greeted by a man who introduces himself as “George, George of the Jungle.” I have a flash back to my childhood where my good friend Marleen and I would watch George of the Jungle on TV. I think to myself, my god, if Marleen had been here, she would have peed in her pants with laughter. He says that he organizes several tours in the jungle and gives us his business card.
After a burn-out it was time for a change. I quit my job, sold my stuff and bought a one-way ticket to the Dominican Republic. What was supposed to be a 4 month adventure turned into 2,5 years and counting......
Photo by: Vanessa Marques Barreto