Of course arriving late has it’s disadvantages. All the beds and mattresses that fill every inch of floor space in the sleeping quarters had been taken. My envy soon diminished though, as it seems as if you do have a bed you must use it constantly throughout the whole journey. For 22 hours the “bed” people rarely moved, lunch and dinner being the only exceptions.
I walked around the boat, finding new spots to watch the views, hypnotised by the waves, making notes or reading my books. Whenever I looked into the quarters all I saw was a sea of people, crammed in, sweating, barely alive. The ceiling was too low to stand up, the floor too packed to plant a leg that the only people who tried to make an exit were the toddlers; feeling a draught of cool air coming in from the deck they would make a run for the exit only to be pulled back in by a hand lurching out of the pack. Every person in that room had been transformed from person to cargo.
Night-time was the main drawback. I staked out a section of bench, just wide enough to lie down on and made it my home for a few hours. Situated next to the engine room I vibrated my way to sleep before waking half-an-hour later, uncomfortable and in pain, and then I switched sides.
We arrived in Buenaventura at 6am, 22 hours after leaving Nuqui. I spent no time in Buenaventura, getting a cab straight to the bus station. Cali would be the next place I would lay my head.
In some ways I think I should have stayed in Buenaventura for a few days but the city looked ominous. What was once an important port (pre-Panama canal) was now a scrap yard. Roads, shops, cars and people seemed to roll into one, creating a cacophony of sounds that could alert a blind man that he’s in the wrong place.
One of the main reasons I wanted to stay was to visit the Pier. It was here in 2011 that citizens and tourists gathered round to watch the tsunami hit the shore, the forewarned aftershock of what happened in Indonesia. Sitting in deck chairs, drinking beers and selling sweets, they waited for it to come. It never did, and the party was cut short. They would have to wait a while longer before something/anything came along to cleanse their city.