Wednesday, 9 August 2017

And stop.... I decided that I have been trying to race along with an uber heavy kayak (120 days of food does that) so much so even my paddle has started to bend into the stroke position. I have lost quite a bit of weight after about only 1500km (ish).  

I have about 3 max days until Iquitos and the Rio Amazonia starts in 20km from here. I should declare now that it is my intention (providing I can repair my Kayak - minor) that I want to see how far I can get down the Rio Amazonia unsupported and unassisted. This is not important, as just completing a solo journey from Saneraza is good enough for me and just getting to the end point would be an achievement. So much can prevent a solo unassisted and unsupported travel (as i know from Antarctica) but in reality the journey so far (solo) has been testing and checking equipment, supplies and routines. I want to do this as a challenge for the next step to what I hope to be my next adventure that will take another leap in the 'challenging the boundaries' adventure. 

Today (my day off) will be used to repair, eat, sleep and sleep and eat and eat some fact by the time I finished this post and after popping by taxi to Iquitos, I am going to make it 2 days rest and eating. I have lost quite a bit of weight, more than my liking over the last 6 weeks ... so I will use this opportunity to eat. 

The last week and a half I have easily done 40-50km, well until its due a thunderstorm when the temperature and humidity spikes and well at this point I cant paddle ( or shouldn't try to as the amount of energy used spikes as well). In reality though, i have been doing over the 50km mark daily in real paddle km - a far cry from the planned 25km a day. 

The (solo) journey has been eventful already and well there is defiantly a story to tell
already (so hoping to get to the end). It will be a long old slog and the next 3800km (ish) will be eventful too. If i average the 50 odd km then i should be near the end in 100 days (or less)....  but I am hoping to find a good quiet beach (or two) further down the line that I can spend a day on ....

But, what is it like? Well, so far, from what I can see it is very family orientated - large families. Whole families go out fishing, together, for food (fish). I have seen many children running along the beach beside their mother and father who fish and others in the boat helping at all ages. Children learn to throw a net by practicing on the shore with a smaller one.... and repeatedly trying again determined to get it right. 

Folks know when a stranger is 'in town' and one (or more) will come and find out the story. I have been stopped so many times along the way and then see folks pass the message along through calls, word of mouth and gestures. They are protective and rightly so, with so many children, who wouldn't be. All communities are the same and should be. 

English is a no go, even though children (and therefore adults) even on the river and high in the mountains learn English in school. I love this and even though my Spanish is very limited, I have to use every word (and gesture) that I know, even though some will laugh at my usage and having been told that the word for 'little' is very similar to a rude word!!! (I wonder how often I have got this wrong). But I try and I guess that goes a long way - frustrating that it is as I want to talk, interact and listen to so much more. 

The community whistles and signals are the hidden communication that is repeated and have changed along the river - almost like the dialects in the UK and around the world. Some have initially been warning signals that dissipate as they become aware that I am a solo female - luckily. Interestingly here the female has a very strong role especially in villages (the home) and especially the women in the boats who approach, beam when they see that I am a female (moreso after the initial shock look).

Music too (my love) plays a significant role here in Peru. Music is everywhere and is blasted around whether in the streets or on the river. It makes for a very happy and joyful place to be .... and i have to say, this continues through the night cause these folks know how to party alllll night long. As I write sitting on a bench in the town square, without an announcement - music has started and there appears to be a dance group setting up to present. I think I have said before, although I have only heard sound system music so far, I have been reassured that 'live' music is still very much alive. There is a traditional theme though to the music, a certain drum beat that is fantastic. 

I have to say, I love this stripped back culture
(even though everyone have phones) - it does take me back to pre internet (although internet is here - the strength of signal is such that folks don't wander down the streets whether in villages or town looking at the phone). 

Bright clothes, red, blue and white with pockets of orange and green throughout. There is clearly a political undertone that i am not privy to (dont understand and in short don't want to either). 

As I have progressed through the country, there have been significant changes different but the same. I have to say it was great to see even in the little river communities joined only by the river celebrating Perus independence. I have to say that Peru has so much potential and is rich in so many ways - this richness could be more widely spread - but would that change the other richness of the country. 

Having seen the light where in years before , I hankered after what I thought was the better life of parties, new car and clothes in a very disposable way, today, having my home on my back (or now in a kayak) seeing and experiencing the world outside of the town and city life, I couldn't be happier. Long gone are the days of working day and night, weekends and holidays and I am defiantly a better person (personally) for it - I recognise that for many years I gave myself to others too much that somehow I lost myself in it. For some it would be a sign of selfishness but a work life balance that many speak about is true. Ultimately I know, that this could be the last of my big adventures for a while but I have no regrets at all and will make every effort to continue this life that I am currently leading that I hope (and have been told) has made impact on other peoples lives too. The world is huge and so much more to explore, I wish that others would join me on this way of life. 

The road (or river) ahead may have potential difficulties (I hope not) and so I reflect whilst on my couple of days rest - hence why I have put some thoughts down on paper. I have only 10 days max in Peru and it has been a journey (a great one) that I would never have had if I remained in a 6 am to
1am, 7 days a week job that I loved and was so passionate about. But, no matter what, I have no regrets at all. 

'Dont put off tomorrow what you can do today'......