Saturday and most of Sunday passed without a hitch, as we arrived in Santarem, ½ way down the river between Belem and Manaus. We left in the early afternoon, but realized we were heading back there and became suspicious. After some fussing and fretting, we found out there was a problem with the
motor, and we may not be able to leave until Friday, or almost a whole week. That was when all hell began to break loose.
Several of our new friends elected to leave. The poor Danish couple got shafted twice, and rumour had it they left without receiving their money back. That’s how upset she was at the way of life on the Amazon. The level of stress seemed to be higher with those who had made tight plans expecting a European-like efficiency in arrival time. Panic soon turned to acceptance, and the remaining group decided to decend upon Santarem on a Sunday night and make the best of it.
Monday featured a surprising cast of local heroes that took on the impossible task of getting the boat going again. I watched with interest as the welder cut open the metal wall surrounding the motor, wondering the scope of work to come. Hopes soared as we saw another motor on the back of a truck, and soon, it was on the front of another boat being roped up to hook on to the pulley wheels Tense moments ensued as the several ton motor was suspended between the neighbouring boat and ours, as the carrying boat pulled back to provide room. The men worked into the evening, and we all laid down our bets as to when we were leaving.
I heard the motor fire up early Tuesday morning, and although our final destination was still 2 days away, it felt a welcome blessing. A quick run into town was successful, as Gabriel grabbed some groceries for me while I found an internet shop where the owner spoke perfect English. We were told the boat was leaving at 10 am, and I was still on the computer at 9:55. Fortunately i ignored my mind’s prediction that the boat would be late again and ran back. Gabriel wiped his brow in mock relief as he saw me walk down the plank to our boat, and I felt i cut it very close We were on our way at 10:30, almost 48 hours after complete despair and worry.