January 16, 2021, 7:20 pm
The third day of the Amazon tour began under a simple roof made of dry palm fronds at Marasha Natural Reserve. I slept in a small hut enclosed by mesh screen and sitting on wooden stilts to keep everything dry when the Amazon River’s tributary rises in the wet season.
I ate a breakfast of eggs, bread, arepas and fruit in Marasha’s common dining area and chatted with a few other visitors. Soon afterwards, I gathered my belongings and plopped them into a canoe with a motor. My guide David and a few other visitors sat in the canoe with me and enjoyed the boat ride through the twisting tributaries that connected to the mighty Amazon River. We saw a few monkeys, bird species and vegetation. The narrow passage was an interesting change from the wider river we would use afterwards to travel from the Peru side, where Marasha is located, to our next destination on the Colombian side.
The boat let us off at the Mocagua Community, located on Colombian territory north of Marasha. This community is home to several indigenous tribes that live together in harmony along the Amazon River. Just to be clear, when I say “indigenous tribes,” I’m not referring to people dressed in loincloths with spears running out to greet us. While there are tribes in the Amazon that have very little contact with the modern world, these people were not it. It’s not bad or good, I just want to make sure we are all on the same page.
David and I ate the lunch a few of the women in the community served us in a pavilion outside the community leader’s home. I learned about the different indigenous tribes that lived in the area and their history with the Colombian government and outside missionaries. After lunch, a local guide/artist took us around the community and showed us the different murals he painted on people’s houses and the significance of his work. He also talked about life in Mocagua, such as the public boats that bring kids to school, how their local economy relies on fishing and more.
Searching for Pink Dolphins
The Amazon tour continued when we left the community and headed north along the Amazon River to spot pink dolphins. The only sign of dolphins we spotted were dorsal fins of another type far from the boat. While we searched for these elusive creatures in a wide canoe, David told me about a few legends about the pink dolphins and how some people in the Amazon believe the animals even whisk women who stand too close to the water or go swimming alone away forever. Maybe it was a good thing we didn’t spot any pink dolphins that day, as I was the only woman in the boat and I wasn’t trying to be whisked away by anything.
In the evening, the canoe dropped us off in Puerto Nariño, a small town also located along the Amazon River. Puerto Nariño isn’t as developed as Leticia, but it isn’t as remote as the Mocagua community. It is mostly made up of people with indigenous roots and it’s a model for community sustainability. It had a town square and a humble building that served as a city hall. A few bakeries and small shops overlooked the square and an adjacent soccer field. I didn’t see any roads, but sidewalks snaked around the small town, connecting houses, small restaurants and even a computer lab with printers and Internet.
My hotel room was rustic and cozy and had a small observatory that let me look over the treetops at the river. It was a day before Colombia’s Independence Day and a festive mood hung in the air. Music from another part of the village wafted through the screens covering the hotel room windows and I tried to savor every note during my last night in the Amazon.
Visit Uncover Colombia’s Amazon tour page to see a detailed itinerary and find out how you can take the same tour.
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