Isla de Los Monos (Island of the Monkeys)

It was like a well-choreographed ballet – our arrival at Isla de Los Monos (Island of the Monkeys). We started crossing the wide Rio Napo at exactly the right time so as to avoid the uprooted tree in the middle and also to use our momentum to send us ashore as we rotated the cumbersome vessel counterclockwise and threw a line to the small indigenous man standing in the one ten-foot clearing on what appears to be his own private island in the middle of the river. It was a maneuver that would have made ANY captain proud of even the most seasoned crew – me being no exception.
“Ali tuta” (“Good afternoon” in Quechua), he greeted us. “Ali tuta”, we replied. He secured our line to a tree, and with that, we finished our first day of floating the river without incident since we left almost two weeks ago. The first week was something I would rather not remember, and for this reason I would rather not write too much about it. A high-speed collision with a mid-river uprooted tree that lifted our four-ton vessel clean out of the water; a canoe-based rescue attempt that ended in our canoe getting pinned against a tree and capsizing (and then sinking) with me inside of it, and a collision with a riverbank tree which peeled our roof off like one would peel the lid off a can of tuna fish. The latter incident took three Go-pros, our GPS, a tent, our binoculars, and nearly all of our food, and also resulting in two stitches to Sam’s hand and nearly a whole tube of crazy glue to put my foot back together.
The second week was not much better, but for different reasons altogether. We were held up (not literally) in a small dump of a city called El Coca (we joked that it should have been called El Caca due to the smell). It took us almost a week working with four different lawyers (three of ours and one of theirs) to get our Proof of Ownership, National Sailing Permit, Safety Certificate, Tonnage and Valuation Report, permission to “sail” to Peru. The bureaucracy we encountered while trying to register our vessel with the Ecuadorian Navy (combined with the incompetence of those performing the inspections and writing the reports) would have been enough to convince almost any man that he was dealing with the most backward institution in the world. But alas, I spent enough time in the US Navy to know that this was not the case, and I am now left to wonder if every country’s Navy is the same way.
But today was the start of what I will remember as The Amazon Adventure: the girls starting a fire onboard and cooking breakfast as Sam and I stand watch at the bow and La Aventura Amazónica (our raft) slowly drifts away from “El Caca” (and the ill-fortune of our first two weeks) toward Peru, Brazil, and the mightiest river in the world; the deft maneuvering of the crew as we avoided so many navigation hazards; our arrival at La Isla de los Monos where we were greeted by species of birds (trumpeteros and oropendulas) and monkeys (titi rojos and chorongos) previously unknown to us; and my lover’s head resting on my shoulder as I lay in my hammock and record the events leading up to the present (she told me to write that last part).

One Response to Isla de Los Monos (Island of the Monkeys)

  1. Phily B December 1, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

    HAHA! (“She told me to write that last part”) that’s great

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