So the alarm goes off at 3:30 am and I wonder what the fire drill is all about? And so early! Then the realization sets in that it is time to get up to get ready for our next journey. The adrenaline starts to kick in and I race through my morning routine. Downstairs to eat a quick breakfast, and then wait in the lobby with our team for a bus to take us on a 2 hour ride to the boat docks to catch our “speed boat” – not! – for a 9-10 hour boat ride to the villages of Santa Fe and Sintico. Can’t wait.

The bus looks like a city shuttle bus – rickety, small seats, no door just an open hole just waiting to suck the person out of the seat directly across from it as we round a corner and a loud engine. None of us are really awake yet as we pull away from the hotel. The countryside is lush and green. The cool air flows through the windows in the bus and I am reminded at every turn of the majesty of this earth. Taking it all in I find it so difficult to believe I am here. Yeah – you know me – the tears well up both from joy and elation to be making an impact and from the sadness to know it is never enough.

We arrive at the “port.” Nothing more than a wide space carved out of mud along the banks of the Amazon. I look at the boat and wonder how the heck we are going to make it!! It sits so low to the water and we are crammed into an even smaller boat than the one we took to Santa Fe! But it is an adventure and we pile in. Some of us sitting shoulder to shoulder facing the front of the boat and some of us on the wood floor! Yikes. I guess we can do this for one day – right??!! For the next 10 hours we are like this…. Did I mention no bathroom on the boat? Heck – there is no place to stand let alone stretch your legs. I feel like a pretzel. Okay back to the bathroom thing. That has me a little concerned. We plan to stop in 4-5 hours for a “break.” Hope I make it that long.

As the boat pulls away from the shore I realize I see no life preservers. Not a good thing. I also realize I can reach out and dangle my hand in the water. That could be fun, well except for the piranha and other biting things that lurk beneath the water’s surface. So here’s to a safe trip.

Bon Voyage!!!!!!!!!!!!

Inside boat to sintico Yes that is me with the glass of juice in my hand. Shouldn’t drink it –  I know – there are no bathrooms on board. In front of me from left to right is Ray Skaggs, Pastor Sandro from Iquitos and Sean. You can see how close we are to one another. They are sitting on cushions which is a good thing except for the fact the cushions are soaked and when you sit on them your pants get dripping wet. Nice ! So sitting on water for 10 hours – not so comfortable. I opted for sitting on the bottom of the boat when I could. And yes I am sitting on the wood-slat floor and I can literally drag my hand in the water over the edge of the boat. What an adventure!

In His Grip,

Stephanie