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South America, Page 2

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June 16, 2009.  I flew out of Ezeiza International Airport, near Buenos Aires, with a destination of New Delhi, India.  This marks the end of my 4-1/2 year stay in South America.  See Events2, which will be about my experiences in India.

May 6, 2009. I was on the point of ending my stay in Buenos Aires, when I learned that, though I had exhausted the visas granted here, it was permissible to get a third visa by sailing to Colonia, Uruguay.  I had received a new US Passport on April 28, so the trip to Uruguay enabled me to retire the old passport.  This was necessary, as the old passport was so tattered that the Indian Embassy in Buenos Aires would not accept it.  Very soon I will apply for an Indian visa and I will fly Buenos Aires--Bombay around July 1, if all goes as planned.  I have been in South America continuously for 4-1/2 years, and hope to stay in India an environs an equal amount of time.



Eladía Isabel moored in Colonia, Uruguay, behind its boarding bridge.

November 8-14, 2008. I boarded a bus belonging to the always undependable Flota Ormeño in Arequipa, Perú at 9:30 PM on November 8, and after many tedious scheduled and unscheduled stops, we arrived in Santiago, Chile, at about the same hour on 000November 10.  This means we averaged 25 miles an hour for the 1200 miles of the journey.  Most of the route was in the Sechura and Atacama Deserts. but once we had arrived in Coquimbo, Chile, 6 hours north of Santiago, we began to see greenery and farmlands, with divided highway all the way.  I spent 3 days in Santiago before getting on a Fénix Internacional bus in the main terminal, on Avenida Bernardo O'Higgins.  Within hours, we were making labyrinthine turns in the loftiest part of the Andes Mountains, passing within 30 miles of Mount Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in the Americas.  After that we rolled onto the Pampas, and with a trip of about 26 hours, we ended up in the main terminal in Retiro, in Buenos Aires, on November 14, about noon.  This is my fourth visit to Buenos Aires since 2004.

See for pictures of the Atacama Desert and the Andes Mountains.


Image:Monumento SanMartin BA.jpg


Monumento San Martín, Retiro, Buenos Aires


October 9-12, 2008.  On October 9, I caught Ecuatoriano Pullman's 11 PM bus at the awesome Terminal Terrestre in Guayaquil, Ecuador with a destination of Piura, Perú.  This was the best I could do.  We arrived in Piura, a town of 400,000 in the Sechura Desert, at 7 the next morning.  Spending the day in Piura, I caught a Transportes Roggero bus at 3:30 PM, making Lima  at 7 on the morning of October 11.  Stuck under a dreary Lima sky all day, I finally boarded an Expreso Cial bus at 4:30 PM, arriving in Are0quipa on October 12, at 7 AM.  I was much pleased with the warm, sunny weather and the impressive Spanish Colonial architecture of Arequipa.  This is great!  This is fine!  I'll be in Arequipa till around November 5.

Alpacas in Arequipa,Perú

July 16-18, 2008. The Magdalena international bus from Bogotá to Lima, arriving 7 hours late in Cali, had no available seats.  So I took a Bolivariano bus to Ipiales, Colombia around 5 PM on July 16.  Spending the night in Ipiales, I cabbed to Rumichaca in the morning, where, after obtaining a 90-day visa for Ecuador, I caught a short-line microbus to Tulcán, Ecuador.  In Tulcán, I boarded a San Cristóbal bus, arriving in Guayaquil, Ecuador at 4 AM on July 18.  In Guayaquil, I got a room at Pacífico Hostelling at  Escobedo 811, between Junín and Urdaneta.



Image:Guayaquil Malecon2000.JPG


The Waterfront in Guayaquil, Ecuador



Map of Ecuador


June 19, 2008. I got another 30-day visa for Colombia Monday, and Wednesday, I boarded an Expreso Brasilia bus in Barranquilla with a destination of Medellín.  In Medellín, I went from the North Terminal to the South Terminal by cab and caught an Empresa Arauca bus for Cali.  In Cali, I got a room at Hotel Franco, Calle 3 No. 12A-27 i0n Barrio San Antonio.  I'll be in Cali at least a month.


May 29, 2008.  The murder that I saw yesterday made the headlines of the local newspaper La Libertad de Barranquilla, Colombia today: ASESINADOS DOS EX POLICÍAS (Two former policemen slain.).  I did not realize that there had been two victims in  the car, which the newspaper article identified as a Mazda.  There seems to be an error in the newspaper account, which states that there were four attackers on two motorcycles.  As I saw it, there were at least four motorcycles, and I did not see two riders on any of them.  I doubt that any other witness had a better view than mine.  La Libertad identified the former policemen as Bladimir Geraldino Lora and Jhonny (sic) Jiménez Garcés.  One suffered 10 shots from 9-millimeter (.35 caliber) bullets, while the other suffered "more than five".  The policemen, 41 and 35, each left a wife and four children.  Supposedly, the retired policemen were on their way to buy whey, which they resold to grocery stores presumably, but they were found without money.  So, the newspaper article did not rule out the possibility of an armed robbery, but as far as I could see, none of the assailants laid hands on the victims.



La Libertad de Barranquilla, Colombia on May 29, 2008


May 28, 2008.  I witnessed a wicked murder this morning about 9 in Barranquilla, Colombia.  I had left my room at Hotel Tintan on Calle 39 and started walking down Carrera 27 towards Calle 45, where there is an Éxito store, something like K-Mart, but with a grocery department.  I had gone no more than 100 feet on Carrera 27, when I heard several loud reports.  Firecrackers are commonplace in South America, and that's what I thought it was, until I looked up and saw 5 or 6 men, between 20 and 30, on motorcycles, brandishing pistols.  Their victim was a person in a white compact car going the same way I was, but by the time I turned around I couldn't see the victim, because he or she already lay slumped on the front seat dead apparently.  Each youth fired five or six shots; there must have been 20 to 30 shots all told, most of them directed through the open windows of the car towards the driver's seat.  I was no farther than 20 feet from the nearest assailant, who could easily have shot me either intentionally or unintentionally, b0ut I was lucky.  The killers all rode off within 45 seconds, and a crowd gathered from the houses in the vicinity.  I continued to Éxito, and, half an hour later, when I had bought my groceries, I returned the same way, but  the police had cordoned off Carrera 27 from Calle 39 to Calle 40, so I had to walk around the block to get home.

May 19, 2008.  I got a 30-day visa extension from the Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad at Calle 54 No. 47-133 in Barranquilla, Colombia.  Unfortunately, they give only 30 days at a time, though one may renew 5 times in a year. 

Map Of Colombia



April 21, 2008.  About noon, I boarded an Ormeño bus at Camargüí Terminal in La Paz, a district of Caracas, Venezuela.  We made Cúcuta, Colombia about 4 AM on Tuesday, April 22.  In Cúcuta, I boarded a minibus for Bucaramanga, and from there I went by taxi to Aguachica.  This took 8 hours.  In Aquachica, I caught an Expreso Brasilia bus for Barranquilla, my present location.  This took another 7 hours.  In Barranquilla, I got a room on Calle 39, at the Tintan Hotel at about 11PM on Tuesday.



View of Barranquilla, Colombia


January 30, 2008.  I boarded an Eucatur bus at the Rodoviaria de Manaus, Brazil on Friday, January 25, 2008, with a destination of Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela.  Puerto La Cruz, which does not appear on the map of Venezuela below, is about 5 miles east of Barcelona.  The ride went smoothly, with a transfer from one bus to another in Boa Vista, the capital of Roraima, the Brazilian state north of Amazonas.  We left Manaus at 6 PM and throughout the night we were still in the Amazonian rainforest, but by daybreak we were in the savannahs and low hills of Roraima, with small mountain ranges here and ther0e.  We passed the Venezuelan frontier in midday Saturday with only minimal formalities and rolled for several hours in continued grasslands, but eventually we were in thick jungle again, making hairpin turns on tortuous mountain roads drenched in shade.  Nightfall came and I lost track of the terrain.  We arrived in Puerto La Cruz at 3 AM Sunday, but I was able to get a room quickly.  By 10 AM, I was on another bus bound for Caracas, where we arrived at about 3:30 PM.  I got a room quickly, but the operator of the hotel swindled me, charging me three days rent for two days.  With 100 of baggage, I was in no position to argue or walk out indignantly, so I swallowed the loss.  Later in the day I met a number of Palestinians resident in Venezuela, and I sold them US dollars at a rate very favorable to them, because they helped me get an inexpensive room in a very handsome neighborhood called El Paraíso, where they also live.  My room is in an attractive white stucco building with red tiles on the roof and high wrought iron fences all arou0nd, in an area with a high Islamic population.  There's even a mosque a couple of doors down.  Finally, today, I'm in and settled.  The owner of the building is a Venezuelan doctor.  My visa expires April 26, but in view of the comfortable and secure accommodations that I have in this city infamous for its crime rate, I may seek an extension before that time:



Panoramic View of Caracas, Venezuela


 Map of Venezuela


September 28, 2007.  I got a three-month visa extension at the Policia Federal at Avenida Domingos Jorge Velho, #40, in Manaus this morning.  I was worried that they might make me buy expensive passage out of the country, but they hardly paid attention to this requir0ement. The procedure took just a couple of hours, and the fee was only about $35.  Now I may remain in Brazil until January 28, 2008.


September 17-18, 2007.  I sailed with a party of about 10 on a small ship northwestwards from Manaus, Brazil, along the Rio Negro about 60 kilometers to a lodge built on a pier in the middle of some igarapé (tributary).  In the afternoon, we went out on the water in a small motorized wooden boat to fish for piranhas.  There were eight persons, including the guide, aboard.  The catch, after an hour or two of fishing, was six piranhas, about six inches long.  In the evening, we went out on the boat again, in the dark, down many watery backwaters, looking for alligators.  We reached a spot where several alligators could be heard clicking, and the guide went out and caught two small alligators, which we all examined, before he let them go.  We saw a larger alligator on the shore, with the help of a flashlight.  Around 10, we returned to the lodge, which was not electrified.  We used candles in our rooms.


The next day, rising at 5:30, we went out on the water to see a sunrise that didn't happen.  It was mostly cloudy till mid-morning.  What we did see was dozens of botos (river dolphins) leaping out of and back into the water.  Then we returned to the lodge for breakfast.  Later, we went on a jungle hike.  We came to a spot where two or three caboclas (women of mixed Indian and Brazilian ancestry) were milling cassava flour.  They had a big stone quern or mill, with black iron implements, and seemed to have about 50 to 100 pounds of cassava all ground and sifted.  They had an open fire going, under a little ramada, and with them they had a baby, a dog and some chickens.  It was all very primitive.  In the next couple of hours, we walked through heavily grown jungle, walking poles across creeks, and tripping over roots and vines, but we saw no significant animals, though the area is supposed to have monkeys and snakes.  We returned to the lodge again, and about 4 PM, I departed in a ship with two others, while some of the party, who had booked five days, remained. 


Amazon river dolphins are pictured below, while further below is pictured cassava, also known as mandioca, manioc, manihot, yucca and yuca (not to be confused with the agave of the southwestern US also called the yucca).  This is a starchy, tasty, potato- or yam-like plant that is a staple in South America as well as Africa and Asia.  Tapioca is made from cassava, which is not sweet in itself.  Sweeteners are added.




Boto (Amazon River Dolphin--Inia geoffrensis)


Image:Manihot esculenta dsc07325.jpg


Cassava (Mandioca)





Anyone wishing to sail the Amazon from Manaus, Brazil to Iquitos, Perú should put himself or herself in touch with Ajato Navegaçao Ltda.  at Manaus Moderna port.  Phone numbers are: 9984-9091; 9982-8170; and 3622-6047.  I don't know whether Ajato sails east as well.  In Belém, Brazil, the place to go to buy tickets for the slow ships is the Rodoviaria (main bus terminal) on Avenida Almirante Barroso.


The Port of Manaus, Brazil, on the Amazon River


August 4, 2007.  I arrived in Manaus, Brazil after sailing 31 hours down the Amazon from Tabatinga, Brazil, in addition to the 10 hours it took to sail from Iquitos, Perú to Tabatinga  This was a swift launch, about 3 times as fast as the ship I sailed in from Belém to Manaus in 2006.  Manaus is the capital of the Brazilian state of  Amazonas, the largest city on the Amazon, and the largest city in the South American jungle.  My Brazilian visa doesn't expire till October 30.  At that time, according to my current plans, I will go by bus to Caracas, Venezuela.  Iquitos, Manaus, Belém and Caracas may be seen on the map below.  Tabatinga is right opposite Leticia. Colombia.



Map of Brazil




The Port of Tabatinga, Brazil, on the Amazon


August 1, 2007.  At 4:30 AM, I went with my baggage by cab to Embarcadero Huequitos in Iquitos, Perú.  There I boarded a motorized launch that sailed the Amazon River to Santa Rosa, Perú, putting in at 4 PM.  From there, I went by a very small motorized boat (see picture) to Tabatinga, Brazil, a distance of 2 or 3 kilometers.  The Port of Tabatinga is a primitive operation.  I had to report to the Federal Police in Tabatinga to present my passport, visa, and yellow-fever vaccination card.  I got a room for two days at the Hostal Internacional on Rua Texeira in Tabatinga.  My next step will be to sail August 3 to Manaus.




The Amazon at Iquitos, Perú


July 13, 2007.  My present location is Iquitos, Perú, at the confluence of the Ucayali and Marañón Rivers, from which the Amazon flows.  This city is in eastern Perú, beyond the Andes from Lima, in the heart of the jungle, and cannot be reached by car, bus or train.  Access is by ship and plane only.  My Peruvian visa expires on August 7, so by that time I will have booked passage to sail down the Amazon to Manaus, Brazil, 950 miles east.  I have already sailed up the Amazon from Belém, Brazil to Manaus, in January, 2006.  So this voyage will enable me to say that I've sailed the whole length of the river.  I have been in South America for 2 years and 7 months.


Anyone wishing to sail by swift launch from Iquitos to Manaus will find the ticket agent's office in the 700 block of Jirón Arica (the name of a street) in Iquitos.


In the map below, Iquitos is in the upper right-hand part of Perú:



 Map of Peru



Photo and Map Credits:

The Waterfront in Guayaquil, Ecuador:

Map of Colombia: "Courtesy of the University of Texas Library, The University of Texas at Austin."

Panoramic View of Caracas, Venezuela:   

Boto (Amazon River Dolphin--Inia geoffrensis):

Cassava (Mandioca):  


The Port of Manaus, Brazil, on the Amazon River:

Map of Brazil: "Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.":

The Port of Tabatinga, Brazil, on the Amazon: 

The Amazon at Iquitos, Perú: 

Map of Perú: "Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.":