From Coca to Rocafuerte
Posted on Dec 12, 2013 |
Puerto Francisco de Orellana => Nuevo Rocafuerte
The boat to Nuevo Rocafuerte was leaving at 9 am, so the monkeys didn't have to rush in the morning. They arrived a bit in advance at the gates of the office, where the salesladies told them to be. The boat was leaving though from the main harbor which was located a couple of hundred meters away.
The boat was able to accommodate around 100 people in quite comfortable seats similar to what you usually have in mini-busses. Other boats on the Coca – Rocafuerte route usually have two long benches, one at each side.
Bench type boat.
(This picture is taken from BicycleSouthAmerica
This is how our boat looked like. Just like in a bus, all cargo was in front.
It took some time until all passengers had finally boarded the boat. There was a queer arrangement of the seats inside. To make it more spacious the gap in each row of three seats was placed differently, so that people had to go zigzag, which made it quite complicated with all the luggage they had.
Once the boat had disembarked everything went much quicker than the monkeys had expected especially the boat itself.
The journey was really pleasant as the seats were comfortable and the wind was constantly blowing the heat of the jungle away. The boat sailed steady, so you could easily spend some time reading. There was in fact not a lot to see aside of the Napo itself. Only a handful of villages were visible on the way and every now and then some buildings and torches of oil companies. Their appearance was quite impressive but not in a positive way. Fire-spitting chimneys in the middle of the jungle were not really what Bimbino and Bambina had hoped to see, in contrary to the wildlife on and around the river which was not visible at all.
Getting ready for the first long motor boat ride.
The first incredible thing to see on the way was a plane parked just beside the boats.
Jungle full of monkeys. Not possible to see though.
An oil plant and its torches. Impressive, but extraneous to the nature.
At some point in the middle of the trip the boat stopped for a half an hour lunch brake in a small village called Pañacocha. Pañacocha is Quechua for Piranha Lake but also here the monkeys saw no other animals but some birds and a lot of homo sapiens. Bimbino and Bambina didn't eat anything there, as the food was not of the best quality, and they had enough snacks to survive the journey.
In the end the monkeys reached Nuevo Rocafuerte already after seven hours. It was still a few hours till it would be dark, and they didn't spend their time wasted.
Nuevo Rocafuerte, Ecuador
Nuevo Rocafuerte is definitely not worth a visit, at least not if you only hang out in town and don’t visit the surrounding national parks or work on an oil plant. Town actually would be the wrong word to describe this place with only around 800 inhabitants. Village describes it much better. Located directly on the Peruvian border Nuevo Rocafuerte is the most eastern town in Ecuador.
Founded in the 40s of 20th century Nuevo Rocafuerte consists of two main streets running parallel to the Río Napo and a handful minor streets connecting those. Most things of importance are located on the riverfront: 2 out of 3 hotels, restaurants, shops, immigration and the police station. Accordingly, it is not difficult to find your way around.
Nevertheless it was not easy for Bimbino and Bambina to find accommodation for the forthcoming night. All hotels were booked out by the employees of the oil companies. Like always they had to ask some more questions and explain they would be happy with whatever place possible, as long as they would find a roof over their heads for the night. The final offer was not bad at all: a single room with cable TV and a private bath, only missing a frame to put the mattress on, and all of that for half of the normal price. Bargain!
Sitting at the riverfront the monkeys made an acquaintance of a Spanish man who was on his way to Iquitos as well. The common target was the reason to start a conversation. Its topic was, of course, how to get out of Nuevo Rocafuerte to Pantoja on the Peruvian side. It was obvious, however, that they wouldn’t find a boat leaving the same day, so they decided to delay their quest for a boat and to go out for a dinner and a few drinks instead.
That was the right moment to start with the first gallon of cheap red wine they had bought in Coca.
Keeping wine safe from the pouring tropical rain.
The food they found was cheap and simple in a little restaurant at the quay. The bar they ended up in that evening was just 50 meters away, like everything in Rocafuerte.
Everybody was sitting in a circle in front of the bar on plastic chairs listening to cheesy latin-american music. It was so loud that it became nearly impossible to understand what others were saying, especially in Spanish. With half of the wine bottle finished and a couple of beers on top the monkeys didn’t care anymore that their mattress was not lying on a bed frame.
Finding a boat was not easier the next day. Eventually the monkeys ended up walking through town and asking everybody if they knew anybody crossing the border. Their newly made Spanish friend did the same and more successful. Thanks to him, in the middle of the afternoon they had a boat arranged for all three. He found a Peruvian man that was about to return to Pantoja on his motorized log-boat and willing to take them for 10 US$ each. The last thing to be done before leaving was visiting the immigration office.
Bimbino and Bambina had just recently received their new passports. However there seemed to be something wrong with those as the responsible officer refused to stamp them out. Reason for this was probably that they had no entry stamps to Ecuador. However, there is never a problem for the monkeys, they always find their way. Bimbino and Bambina just went to the building on the opposite side of the street: the town hall. Here they found another officer who was very helpful and provided them with an official stamp of the city of Nuevo Rocafuerte that was good enough to fool the guys at the border control.
New monkey passports.
Main square with town hall and immigration office.
One of the hostels in Rocafuerte, "Chimborazo", was full.
The hostel "Yurag Wasi" is located behind this shop (biggest shop in town). The shop works as a reception. Bimbino and Bambina stayed here.
Another hostel located on the second street parallel to the riverside. Going from the river, turn left, it is at the end of the street then.
The house of God.
D.I.S.C.O. But don't expect this song to play there...
In this bar Bimbino and Bambina had a few beers in the evening. Located on the riverside.
The shop selling bread. Located on the riverside.
Just old stuff, let it rot under the rain...
Cute playground on the waterside. Just take care that you don't fly into the river from the swing, the current is very strong.
Beautiful rainbow after tropical rain.
Ready to depart.
Boarding! Yes, on this boat they had to travel for 1,5 hours.
Advice from Bimbino and Bambina
Where to stay:
In any of the three hostels in town. Prices do not vary much. You can easily get a room for 6 dollar per person, but you can bargain the price a bit down.
In the hostel "Casa Oropendola" on the second parallel street to the river, you might be able to camp. We, unfortunately, found this option only on the second day, so we didn't really check it.
We stayed in a private unfinished room of the "Yurag Wasi" hostel for $6 for the room ($3 per person).
What to eat:
The food Roca Nocafuerte is very basic. Simple soup, salad, rice and chicken for $3,75. Vegetarians are left to eat plain rice with salad. If you are lucky, you might get a piece of avocado instead of chicken.
For breakfast you can find fresh bread and even some pastries in a local shop.
How to find a boat over the border:
There are two possibilities.
The first possibility works only for a maximum of three people with luggage. Don't know if it would work for bicycles.
Ask for señor Sifuente. He makes the trip for $30. If you are three people sharing costs, it is cheap and very interesting experience. Prepare some big plastic bags to accommodate your backpacks, the boat is leaking. The trip takes 1,5 hours. If señor Sifuente is not available, you have to choose the second option.
Ask everybody until you find someone who knows when the next boat leaves or who wants to drive you. There is usually a boat going according to arrivals of the big boat in Pantoja. The passage should also cost $10 per person. But if you want a private ride, you have to pay for the whole boat, they don't agree to go for less than $70 per boat. Those boats are bigger than the one that señor Sifuente has. The trip might take less than 1,5 hours.
Exchange rate USD/Peruvian Sol:
You get a very bad exchange rate in Pantoja: 1 Dollar = 2,5 Soles
In Rocafuerte there is a possibility to exchange money with a better rate. So is you didn't do it in Coca, don't hesitate to exchange money in Rocafuerte. The rate would be 1 Dollar = 2,6-2,7 Soles. What they sell Dollars for we don't know. Always check the banknotes you get, each of them!
There is neither an ATM in Nuevo Rocafuerte nor in Pantoja. Make sure you take enough money with you from Coca!
See you soon on the other side of the border, in Pantoja, Peru.
Follow the adventures of the Travelling Monkeys! More stories to come soon...