I met this guy in Belem called Philippe – he was bare safe, and a sick artist. And he spoke Portugese, Spanish and French. When I was saying bye to him at the bus stop, leaving to get a boat down the Amazon, a torrential downpour just made the situation all the more dramatic. Which I suppose was appropriate.
´Good luck hermano´, he said, ´see you in ten days!´
When I got on the boat, upon which I would be sleeping for the next five days, it bare wasn´t what I expected. Both the vehicle itself, and once we had got going the river, were bigger than I expected. I put up my hammock (OK, someone put up my hammock for me) and then went to sleep for ages. When I woke up, it was getting dark, but we still hadn´t departed, and didn´t do so for a few more hours.
I think this might be a lonely experience.
The next day, we went past some inhabited jungle, and these people rowed out in little boats and started waving. People were throwing out bags of a food, which must be appreciated, but I must admit I took a double-take when I saw a towel and a pair of jeans flying off thesecond deck!
Later on, I went down to the bottom deck to try and get some peace and quiet, and from there just let my mind run free with creativity and ideas, and wrote lyrics without paper like only the real lyricists can do…
Since day one I was lied to /
Special care unit confined to /
And my mum and my dad they confide to /
Even had to take them out to the side to /
Say we know you probably don´t believe us /
But he won´t walk or talk neither trus´ /
But I´m glad they didn´t /
I´d hate to still be stuck inside a mental prison /
Yeah with a guitar and maybe some keys in the background, this is gonna be big in the game.
One time, this woman who obviously had nothing better to do with her time asked me if I needed help having a shower, and I said ´Please, I´m 18 years old.´ Then she pushed this boy out in front of her, he must have been about 15, and it was so jokes, the look on his face, I´ve never seen someone look so awkward in my life. And the woman said, ´He can help you!´ with great enthusiasm.
My reply was fairly straightforward. ´Don´t be so ridiculous.´ And then I walked away. So I hope she felt as embarrassed as that boy clearly did.
The boat made a stop in Santarem for a day, which meant some new arrivals onboard. In theevening I was lying in my hammock, and these two guys eating shrimps out of a plastic bag invited me to join them.
I started talking with them, Silvano and Luis, and after the latter left I found out that Silvano actually had a little English in his weaponry. So it made communication easier, and I told him all about my trip. To be honest I was more hungry for conversation than for the shrimps. And after a while, he said…
´Jody, you are a life lesson for me.´
´Ah thanks. But why?´
´Because you are so strong.´ he said, pumping his fist against his chest to emphasise thepoint. ´People in Brazil, with no arms and no legs, they are not a life lesson for me, because they just sit in their house, but you are travelling all around the world!´
Yessir. Real talk.
On the last morning, when we had arrived in Manaus ridiculously early and I was just sitting around on the abandoned ship waiting for the sun to rise, I met this Brazilian traveller called Ronney who just made the whole trip seem worth it. This is how much of a g he is:
1. He´s been travelling around south America for three years, only making money through fire poi (wahey Finlay!) which is basically busking.
2. One time he got a one-way flight to Italy with 500 Euros in his pocket that he had saved up, but Immigration said he didn´t have enough money and sent him all the way back to Brazil.
So we agreed that together, we´re gonna somehow buss´ him through Heathrow.