Well I'm now back in the comfortable surroundings of Iquitos. People will think I am crazy but I much prefer it here. Yesterday I spent the morning stood in front of the container holding our precious boat. It felt like an age until someone came to open it, and then wow, what a feeling: I saw the boat for the first time in months and realised that we might just be able to do this after all - she is beautiful and I can't wait to call her home. We just need to get her to the start point now! For now it's more waiting; waiting for customs to spoil all of our wonderful dreams once again.
That's not where it started though, because this morning has been non-stop. First I was collected at the hostel by Emerson and his son, and we drove for an hour to get to Callao. As we drove through the streets they kept telling me how dangerous this area is, which is exactly what we were told last year, so maybe I'll keep my head down. Emerson doesn't speak English but his son does and it turns out he is building the new terminal at the airport. He's a big set guy and like everyone else he thinks I speak no Spanish at all. Actually I've been taking lessons for the last few months, not enough but a good start, and I can make out phrases and words and I get the idea of what is going on. So often I hear the words presidente regional and I know that the strings that run to Iquitos are being pulled. We park the car in a safe compound and walk to the container depot. We borrow a pair of steel-capped shoes each and I have to swap my shorts for a pairs of tracksuit bottoms with a local vendor - safety of course.
Hours later we are still sat in front of our beautiful boat. Suddenly a stern-looking woman resembling an air hostess arrives, people buzzing around her: it's the customs agent. We enter the container and I have been told not to say a word, not to offer keys, just to be ready with my wallet if we have to make life easier. Emerson explains what we are planning (I'm starting to think he is a bit proud of us), and she mentions she is from Iquitos. "Do you know Mike Collis?" I ask, and yes, a smile at last; we are making progress! Mike must know everyone in Peru.
There is a problem though; voices are raised, hands are being held up, all my positive thoughts are running away from me right now and I can see it all falling apart. 'No, no, no,' is all I hear and the panic sets in. Lackeys are now throwing tyres out of the container. We used them to protect the boat during transit, but as we don't have a permit to import tyres they have to go. I could have laughed as they are all old and three of them are under the boat (which has an official weight of 1040kg although the tyres are included in that). The tyres that can be got at are taken away and we have a green light, more waiting, a security seal and a stamp. Now it's down to the shipping agent to get the boat to us as soon as possible, and trust me that is unfolding into a drama of its own.
For now it's just a case of being patient. I'm expecting Mark to arrive in any second and I've got some good news for him as well (I'll tell you lot tomorrow). I can't wait to see him because it has been a very stressful couple of weeks, I've put a lot of pressure on people I shouldn't have, and I've ignored people who want to help. It's just been a bit rough, but now I get to share with someone that I know will listen and give me sound advice. He is also someone that by the end of this will know me better than anyone else in the world, poor lad.