Ferry missed! Hopping on the Amazon River

Fortgeschrittener Hängemattengebrauch auf der Fähre

My hands are shaking as I write this down.

This morning I had arrived in Manaus, the last city north of the Amazonas on my way towards Uruguay. From here I was supposed to take the ferry to Santarem. My only connection to get to the Transamazonica. Everything was handled according to plan, I was at the harbour at 9:40am, the ferry was supposed to leave at 10:00am. Perfect timing. Nearly…

As we were still standing at the harbour at 11:00am I used my broken spanish to ask at what time we would finally start. In two hours, I was told. Enough time to maunder the fish market and get some money from the ATM. I took some money, enjoyed a fish with rice and went back to the harbour. And when i came back i saw: The ferry was gone. It was just turning towards the river right before my eyes. With wildly cursing I ran to the water and a fisherman recognized my problem. Then everything happened so quickly.

He started the motor and I jumped onto the boat. We started chasing after the ferry. It was a spectacular ride, I climbed the big ferry at full speed within the fairwater, paid 20 Real and was relieved for the moment. Everybody on the ferry was giving me the strange look. I was a fucking pirate in this moment, ha! But I made it. Catastrophe avoided. I asked the first person I met, if the ferry was really the one to Santarem. She said yes. I asked another and that one said yes too. But still, everything looked so different here. I went up to the second floor. It was different to what I remembered also here, there were no sinks here before. It took me 1-2 minutes until I realized: Fuck! I was not on the wrong ferry.

My wrong ferry and the attached devils boat

Also the officials on board were a little confused. What is this guy in the yellow suit doing there? Just jumping onto their ferry out of nowhere. I showed them my ticket with immeasurable despair inside me. How could that happen to me. Everything was so well organized. Now I will have to get a taxi back to the harbour, if the ferry will let me jump off somewhere. Had I really overlooked my boat and hijacked the wrong one? Is my ferry still at the harbour?

I looked downstream the majestic amazonian river. And then i saw it. About two miles in front of us, I found my ferry. It had also left the harbour already. Of course, the red lifeboats on deck, I remembered them. And it became clear: No use in getting back to the harbour. I really missed it. As my distress was rising I realized rather hectic activities going on around me. So I decided to wait for a moment.

An Deck der Fähre
On my ferry near the kiosk. Look at the red lifeboats.

A bearded human approached me to signifying that they were working on my problem. After 10 minutes he explained that they would bring me to my ferry for 20 Real. Sounds good. My only chance to get this ride. Their motorboat was at the backside of the ferry. A little clumsy I climbed down the rear, jumped onto the boat, and on we were going.

The ride with the fisherman before was – compared to this boat – a grannies ride. As we touched the first wave I nearly crashed my face onto the steel trunk of the boat. Lucky me, I still have all my teeth. And to my surprise we didn’t go towards the ferry but rather towards a dock at the harbor. I was confused. It turned out, that we unload two woman and pack some other passengers. After 7000km on the ocean I thought that I was quite a sea dog, but this ride was pure hell.

I had to cling onto the boat with all my power to not fall out. It was raining. My backpack was slowly detaching. Hold on. My strength dissolved. We were thrown back and forth from the waves….! I felt like the passenger of a matchbox car that was hit onto the asphalt ground by a motorically less developed kid over and over again. And again. And again. No pity or mercy. The five minutes our ride went on were like half an hour to me.

Sunset in Santarem

Finally we arrived at the ferry to Santarem. Again, people were staring at the human in a yellow suit climbing the ferry up on its side. This time I was experienced. This time it also was the right ferry. I entered successfully. Mission accomplished. Not even lost a second for my moving. After that I had to calm my nerves with beer and nicotine. As I smoked, my legs still shaking. I was really happy and the only thing that came to my mind was: “What the fuck. This crazy shit. What has just happened to me? You won’t be able to tell it correctly, better write it down NOW!”

And so i am sitting here with shaking hands and writing it down.

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