How much is that saddle? But we got a plane in the end.
Top: Tatjana, Diana and Leila. Bottom: Tom pigging out on stuffed pig at the flea market.
Tina fighting to trash Messner over a slow internet connection in an Amazon settlement.
The day Leila got us a plane to Leticia
Sep 05, 2005 0405.4000S,07000.0000W,0.0M
Guys, we are here. But it wasn´t easy. Yesterday morning, the airline reported bad weather as usual, and Leila decided we´d stray to the Bogota Sunday flea market for a few hours. Some of the stuff there was a Ralph Lauren wet dream: Century old brass scales, leather trunks, leather saddles - 50 bucks per piece.
Back at the airport, we met again with the film crew that´s with us to make a documentary on the Amazon queen: Luis, Diana and Tatjana. People kept jumping Tatjana to take a picture with her; until recently she hosted a daily ten minute TV newscast. We are a fun bunch actually.
Around 3.30 pm - we got the same old story: Airport closed, flight cancelled. People left. We did too - but just as we passed the security - we hesitated. Leila overheard a stewardess talking over the radio. Something was not right. By now, our little crew had also made quite a few friends at the airport.
A guy told us he´d just spoken to friends in Leticia - and the airport was, in fact, open! An airport guard whispered, "They are lying to you - get some people together and complain!" The whole bunch of us hightailed to the information booth, pointing the camera at the airport staff, whilst Leila was yelling: "You are lying to us! You are lying to us! The airport is open - you simply redirected our plane away!" Half of the passengers had already left the airport, but the other half now rallied around us. And what do you know - the information told us to go back to the gate, through security and all. They´d get us a plane!
5.00 pm the plane lifted with us on it. We couldn´t believe it. As we approached Leticia in the night, the Pilot came on the speakers: Landing would be iffy, worst case scenario: We´d fly to Peru for the night (honest to God, we are not making this up). Yet 30 minutes later, the wheels touched ground in the deep jungle of the Amazon - passengers roaring at the pilots. We had made it.
There was a quick late night dinner, a hunt for rooms with air conditions, a briefing by Captain Phil - and to bed. The next morning, we woke up to some shocking news about Messner (can you believe he burned the body?!) which we tried to attend to on a painfully slow internet cafe. Then it was off to the boat - and our first glimpse of the river. It´s all very cool guys. We´ll sleep on deck in hammocks from the WWII. We´ll bath in the river and we only have 0,5 meters (2 feet) below our draft, which means some pulling if worst comes to worst.
Now we are spending our last night in civilization in a fancy jungle hotel whilst Leila and Phil are getting the boat ready. Tomorrow, we are off.