Well I'm finding it harder and harder to stay positive; on the outside I am calm and supportive with the other guys, however inside I am prepared to murder someone. We are all currently in Nauta which is our official start point. It's still 20km away from the Amazon by name but here we have supplies and assistance if needed, however we are still yet to receive a boat. We arrived yesterday afternoon expecting to get our precious cargo at 2am, then it was delayed by five hours so at 7am when we saw a boat on the horizon we all felt that this was it - it wasn't. After boarding the boat we were told our boat was on another ship that was on its way, another call and another time, this one at 6pm. Murilo called the agent yet again and laid it out straight, we want an honest answer, he laughed and said 2am tomorrow, brave soul.
So we are all sat here waiting for 2am again. It's just gone past 9am so we are all irritated and annoyed. The nice touch is that we are holding it together as a team; I'm taking the role of angry rower, it's Mark's turn to be supportive and Murilo's to be patient. We take it in turns to play these roles and it works well. We also have a fan club with us - Patti, of course, along with Mike - plus there are also a few other characters now: Dave the gringo taxi driver, Chuck the retired American travel writer, and crazy rainbow Dave who is still hungover after demolishing Mark's local rum with the rest of them. As the fan club drank and reminisced the crew slipped away; we don't need to start with alcohol in our system. We took Patti for chicken and chips instead.
Our HQ in Nauta is a loft space above a shop. Mike has used it before for the raft race, so as the owner wasn't about he let us all in. It has bare wooden floors, huge windows with no glass and a number of rooms with beds made from pallets with duvets as mattresses. Not clean or comfy, but we need sleep so we have all taken a room. Mike is asleep in the corner and crazy rainbow spacecake Dave is in a mosquito tent in the centre of the room; he is yet to rise. The others have slipped away somewhere.
Earlier, after our boat failed to arrive, Patti took the three of us to a local radio station for our first real interview. Murilo translated as Mark and I explained the usual details. On the way back we picked up our last essentials - three buckets, one for washing, one for water, and the third for a less romantic use but one we all have to do, a toilet. We added these to the water, eggs, oil and bananas we have already acquired.
We have all talked as well: as we don't have the luxury of time for preparation we need to get going as soon as possible. As soon as the boat is here we will find the pins to attach the oars to the boat and that is it, we will be off, no rudder, nothing else done. I can do all of that as we row, we just all want to know that we have started. It sounds crazy and dangerous but we are all sick of the delays and we just want to get going. We will do as much as we can on the move and when I need to fit the rudder etc then we will beach the boat on a sandbank and fit it.
Mark and I had a six week timetable originally, and we planned nine days to get to the border; we now aim to do that in five days. We set aside another 16 days to get to Manaus; now we want to get there in 10. That gives us 15 days to cover the last stretch, which we thought would take 18. We have cancelled all of our planned stops and visits. This is purely work now. Our job is to row night and day and break this river open.