17/08/19 – Day 1

We rushed through our coffee… We need to get there early to ensure a good spot! So there we were, at 12:00pm, 5 hours early for our next epic journey. Except the boat we had been told bout was already gone. Left the previous day at 5pm lol. So we boarded the one there – Henry 4. Due to leave “maybe tomorrow, maybe Monday”. South America never ceases to amaze, and there is never a dull day.

Without a hotel booked and not trusting that this boat wouldn’t also leave with out us, we got on and decided to wait it out on board. It was only us and one other guy. At least we get to chose the best spot in the whole entire ship (we think/hope). So now we wait… We spent the afternoon ringing our friends and family, drinking the entirety of our allotted alcohol and just generally having a good old time together reminiscing about the when we met. It was grand and we fell asleep deeply and easily swaying in the breeze in our hammocks.


18/08/19 – Day 2

Woke up feeling nauseous af. Probably didn’t need the wine as well as the pisco last night. What followed was a slow and uneventful day spent nearly 100% on my phone. Cake for lunch, naps, chaufa for tea, lie downs. I think it must have been the most lazy day of my life to date. There is still no one sharing the upper deck with us, eerie as it’s so huge. The downstairs does seem to be filling up. I wonder what we are missing why everyone is filling up down there first. I guess we will never know. Hope to sleep well tonight with dreams of perhaps leaving the port tomorrow.


19/08/19 – Day 3

So another day has come and gone… and we are still in the port. Ohh noo! There was a bit of excitement when at 5:00pm (our scheduled leaving time) we left the dock, went to the middle of the river. Horayyy! We were finally leaving! We even sent people videos about it haha. But alas, 1 hour later after loading some huge rolls of plastic, we were back right where we began. It’s not all bad, we have plenty of company here on the lower deck (we got moved 1st thing this morning – our old spot is now full of mattresses and a pig now). It’s living up to expectations now, there’s people everywhere and the toilets which were clean enough (save a bit of cat shit) now rival those on the trains in India. Gross. The food is great, we had some AMAZING doughnuts full of caramel tasting stuff  for brekkie, juane in a bag for lunch and some delicious chicken (of course) dinner that I don’t remember the name of. All super cheap. All super delicious.

We slept, we ate, we watched youtube, we napped, we had a cuddle, we messaged friends and we repeated. So far so good and I can’t wait to start moving towards the jungle and to get to know some of our neighbours (who don’t seem to know any outer bodily limits as they bump past us in the hammocks constantly!) I have one pair of ear plugs to last the week… wish me luck!


20/08/19 – Day 4

Woke up to a vague sense  of disappointment as I looked out the window and saw the familiar sight of huge, dead logs on the shoreline. No, we hadn’t left during the night. No time to be sad though, as it was 8:30am and the breakfast was being served! Goodie I thought, this must be the day if they are starting the meals. Breakfast was a simple but delicious chicken and rice meal which was followed by lounging about, playing crosswords and attempting to nap as the day grew hotter and hotter.

When I awoke I was amazed to see jungle, sand bank and river rolling by. AWESOME! What a view. I just know I am going to enjoy this! Even the toilets were clean! Tom and I, now fresh and reinvigorated headed to the deck for a celebratory beer (only one as they are tiny and expensive from the boat). Still, it was most enjoyable sipping and watching the Amazon roll by. I really felt like we’d made it even though we were nowhere in particular. I can’t wait to get to Iquitos! Although until then, my lazy ass will enjoy this life style.


21/08/19 – Day 5

Had a very special moment today. We west past what must be an extremely remote village living next to the river. Tom raised his hands and waved and towards 3 boys playing on the shore. One in particular waved back. Tom threw up a peace sign. He did it back. Then Tom blew a kiss and the kid did it back. Oh humans, aren’t we all the same!? Such a lovely moment between two strangers who will never meet and never begin to understand each other’s lifestyles, who are so different. All surrounded by the mighty river and beautiful jungle as the boat hums away, bringing us ever closer.

Today has been a blessing. Encouraged by Marbella, our new mate, we scouted out a new place for our hammocks upstairs. After being woken up from 4am – 6am to banging Spanish pop music and Tom having two guests set up bed directly below him… We had to do something. Upstairs is quieter and friendlier. We both have our own window and S-P-A-C-E. It’s improved our moods tremendously. Should’ve done it sooner!

Other than the big move, today has included 3 yummy meals, chatting to sweet strangers, a cool nap, crosswords, music, Lord of the Rings, a preaching to while waiting for the loo, a fake line up for food because a kid banged a spoon on a cup and a few beersies… coz we can. Bring on a good sleep and another day!


22/08/19 – Day 6

Right now I am listening to some extremely loud Peruvian music. It comes from our friends perched at the end of my hammock. I’m enjoying it, but it makes me feel like I’m at a party. A very strange party that is. We have just had tea – chicken and rice and a tiny sliver of cabbage… Well I ate it, Tom is ill in bed. Poor fella, I do feel for him.

The highlight for me today has to have been the sunset. It was epic from my window so I went to the top deck alone to take a moment to enjoy the last of it. Truly beautiful! Other than that it was more of the same I’m afraid. Good to report that I am now over 1/3 of the way through Lord of the Rings which says something about the sorts of days I’m having.

The jungle is getting thicker. It’s stunning, especially when we get close to it and you see mountains raising up behind. I consider myself truly blessed and lucky to be able to visit such a special place.


23/08/19 – Day 7

Woke up at 5am for a very special sunrise with Tom. Although it was overcast, you could see all the pinks, oranges and reds peaking through the clouds. What a sight as we cruised on calm waters with the amazon rainforest either side of us.

Today would have to be categorised as the day of the watermelon. Pretty early on we stopped at a port and everyone rushed to the front of the boat. All came back with watermelons of all shapes and sizes. People were tucking in all day. You would see bunches of watermelons lying around, each with different marks inscribed in the skin to mark ownership. The floor became littered with their seeds.

Tom and I splashed out on some juane for lunch because the boat chef was serving 3x portions of chicken noodle soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner today and we couldn’t face it. I’m now half way through Lord of the Rings and one of my highlights was reading about the battle of Helms Deep/Isenguard while listening to the soundtrack in my headphones. Occasionally looking up to drink in the views of the passing forest. Other highlights include a fresh set of clothes, chilling with Tom in his hammock and of course the sunrise.


24/08/19 – Day 8

Tom was sick again today, and I mean sick sick. I kept having to check on him to make sure he was OK. Sometimes I would find him sleeping with his eyes half open, pale, clammy, restless. Poor man. So I did my best to keep him watered and tried to feed him plenty of treats. I read for probably over 8 hours total today. That’s mental, it’s like a full day of work.

So the day went slowly and with the night came the music. So loud. So repetitive. Oh and did I say LOUD!?!?! After trying and failing to ignore it for a good few hours, I saw they were having a party, perhaps a final night drink? So I thought if you can’t beat em, join em. The worst of Tom’s sickness had passed so we joined them and had a good time until old mate got too drunk and passed out on the plastic coils on the back deck.

That’s when my stomach cramps started. I decided that maybe the barato Iquitos vodka lemon drink wasn’t for me and went to bed. What followed was a night of uncomfortable restless nausea in my hammock punctuated by trips to the bathroom. The only thing that made me chuckle was seeing old mate on the rolls all night. At least some one had put him in the recovery position.


25/08/19 Day 9

I was not better the next day and the morning passed much like the night except now boiling hot and sweaty. It was by the grace of kind strangers and patient Tom that I made the journey from the boat to the hostel after we finally arrived that afternoon. Bless him, I had a face like a smacked ass the whole way. I did smile when we finally reached our room and I got to lie down on a proper bed with proper air con, after a proper shower.


And thus ends my diary of a boat ride. It was intense, boring, magical, horrible, hot, fun, relaxing, long and testing. All that humanity in one room was a lot to deal with. Not sure if I would ever do that again.. but glad I did.



13/07/19 to 26/08/19

The below is an extract from a first draft for Ash of Jequitbá which uses Puerto Inca as a case study for what Indomado, part of the main settlement in the novel, is like. ‘Indomado’ has appropriately been changed to ‘Puerto Inca’ and the harsher observations have been exaggerated for the purpose of the novel but left unchanged. A more honest set of observations are inevitable as Puerto Inca is a stunning example of a welcoming rural community. It’s impossible not to love this town and it’s people.


The perfect example of what I though a Ruropolis could be, Puerto Inca is a patchwork of inhabited, vacant and abandoned plots stitched together with rocky, terracotta dirt roads. There is an ever present humdrum of activity yet it can be easy to wander for the duration of a complete internal conversation without exchanging graces with unenthusiastic recipients. Even less receptive can be the omni-present sleeping dogs which slump into roadside and tyre-beaten recesses, oblivious to the dangers of careless drivers yet eager to scatter and limp out of view should they mistake a charitable gesture for a threat of violence. Street corners are policed by strutting roosters and skittish chickens with freakish, gluey-eyed chicks that natter and bump about, picking off ants on pheromone-born conveyor belts. Porch shadows are occupied by dusty bitches and their play drained pups. Oversized and misshapen fruits – typically green, yellowing and sour smelling – are traded and exchanged between neighbours as though they don’t grow in abundance on most paths. The remnants of questionable street-side fires smoulder at all hours, smoking up the spines of gently swaying palms and kapoks, across into neighbouring yards and beyond. Surplus coconut shells are often thrown onto such fires and introduce a surprisingly pleasant odour and effective means of dispersing mosquitoes.


A vibrant haze and palette of chalky hues shimmer during the day. The bright swaying greens of sun kissed leaves illuminate darker vein structures within. Washed out browns of second hand timber, chalky greys of hole-punched corrugated iron and the infecting oranges of thriving rust reflect all human endeavour. Shadow faded counterparts of each are also rife; machine-gunned umbrella patterns under trees, narrow trapezoids besides structures and more reliable shrouds found under stilt-lifted sheets of metal. The latter giving rise to unfocused games of cards and quiet meals shared between gang masters and their men. The sky that man and dog alike shy away from is a brilliant azure blue – not a blemish of cloud to be seen, much to the behest of Puerto Inca’s less versatile residents.


The trappings of unfinished development can be found everywhere; hardened concrete growths where foundations should be, collapsed piles of timber and tin intended to become houses, garages and utility structures. Crooked and hand-painted ‘For Sale’ signs still beckon buyers affront overgrown and precarious sinkholes. Landslides are common here, typically eating up and spitting out the sensitive results of carpenters and especially those which flank the impressive Cardenas river. Victims of such predictable acts of nature typically move on and rebuild elsewhere, usually further down the same street so as to maintain a pleasant and brag worthy view of the river…


Widely adopted building motifs are easy to spot. Most plots has a shithouse; ramped perches featuring decks with missing planks positioned over deep holes in the ground. Climb up or in, pull the re-purposed shower curtain or unstitched sack back into place for privacy, then squat over the gap and answer nature’s call. A bin bag full of sawdust should be available to sprinkle on your fresh produce: a odour-based courtesy for the next patron that, unfortunately, most seem to inclined to forget. Shithouses come in various shapes and sizes. Some are a simple hole in the ground without the extra efforts – death traps for foolish toads and unsecured coins, matchboxes and wallets. Others look like wild-west picketing stands.  Another recognisable trope are the thin mesh or gauze strips stapled across windows – a shield against midges, gnats and their reviled cousins should the weave be fine and undamaged enough. Another even more popular tradition is the absence of straightly hammered nails, born of both a lack of access to high quality irons and collective lack of pride in hammering technique. As long as things are held together, who gives a fuck. Microscopic scorch marks are common on the wooden victims of larger nails – it can be a cathartic, sparky affair hammering them into place.


Urban planning proves to be uniformly haphazard in its nature. Housing blocks, a main stretch full of hardware stores and a Plasaz De Armas Puerto Inca do exist, functioning as intended, but signposts and maps do not. Street names aren’t applied and locals navigate via well known landmarks; all-hours markets, graffitied water towers and factories of religion and a select few two-story hostals. Streets run straight and connect into grids. Almost every junction is a crossroads. Alleys and pathways snake between the ends of fenced off garden spaces, seeing higher footfall when nearby roads have split and collapsed into the Earth. They can become so popular that they naturally expand into permanent new roads – tested as such by audacious engine drivers who take advantage of shortcuts long before they have been generally accepted by the masses. Industrial zones including clusters of competing sawmills, over-capacity timber stores and smoking kiln sets sit in and amongst the rest of the town. They typically operate all hours and sabotage the sleeping efforts of nearby workers and residents; rhythmic gravel shovelling powered by moonlight, plank sawing so close as to conjure up visions of hammock strings getting cut and the gormless laughter of workers downing tools bouncing around the cavernous insides of warehouses at all hours of the fucking night. Before long the favour usually returned by another party. Some longer residing parties and individuals have even adapted so much as to use the consistent and intrusive ambience as an alarm clock to start a new working day. Almost everyone in these areas have bags under their eyes and depend on tar-like coffee or stinging moonshine to fight bloodshot. There is little regard for the rest of others. If you’re awake, get started.


Shower houses are tucked away from the roads and down crumbling stepped concrete walkways. Usually no more than a flat and roofed stone basin besides a vertical wall of gushing pipes, they prove popular places regardless. Here the townsfolk wash and wring out dirty clothes with improvised detergents, top up tapped water butts for communal kitchen areas and unashamedly wash their reeking part in front of others. Cobbled runoffs guide water across calloused toes and between dirty feet, down long forest runways and into nearby lagoons and streams. It is common for buckets of bubble-soaked clothes and litter alike to be left at these spots. The plastic pipes that provide the steady streams of magicked-out-of-nowhere water have green and mossy undersides and a weird metallic smell about them. The water itself is just a tiny bit too gloopy to drink outright without concern. New faces at favoured hot spots are always given a good stare-down; fruitless exercises in pseudo-ownership that do little to prevent anyone from accessing such a key resource.


Most canals lead down to the waterfront – the Malecon – where a promenade of sorts and market squares and haggard concrete houses can be found. These not-quite-straight streets and walkways sit on top of a steep, short and forested slope which runs the edge of the river. Tiny winding footpaths and uneven, rooty dugout steps trickle between the can and bottle ridden grasses and bushes and down to a ribbed and shining shoreline below. There is a crumbling concrete waterfront path winding along the top street. It is perpetually cracked, winding around the equally crooked and collapsing malecon trees, even collapsing completely on some sections. Such gaps are overgrown pitfalls and ridiculed leg breakers with good reason; they can be metres high and dangerous, exposing what lies beneath – broken pipes, split-rock and fly-infested heaps of litter. Dug into the shoreline below are a mix of nurtured and dilapidated dugout canoes – some painted, most naked – the oldest of which lie half submerged in sand, falling apart, slowly getting swallowed whole and crying out for the love and affection they once had.


Further inland and equidistant between the bridge and a large, open tract of unused land in the middle of town is the best of the abandoned projects; a derelict petrol station. Standing somewhere in between a successful concreting stage and the installation of pumps and gas lines, the station is eerily silent – a diorama of what could’ve been with tool-laden wheelbarrows, stacks of bricks and tool sheds still left in place as they were on their last day of use. At the fringes of an immaculately realised and shapely forecourt, artfully placed potted palms thrive in modesty – much to the excitement of a roving swarm of black wasps eager to find a new place to call home. Where work engines would and still could fall in and fall out overlooks an expansive, recessed and boggy plot which sits just beyond one of the more popular dirt tracks leading to the Northern sawmills. Pooled water isn’t immediately apparent, sat just below the muddy grasses and in between tall heaps of broken bricks and cracked rocks. On the far side can be found more housing, a sprinkling of lacklustre restaurant efforts and yet more fenced plots of untapped potential. On less subdued days such secluded spots give rise to cantankerous and illicit wildfowl orgies.


Nighttime is the realm of blacks and blues. Black and sparkling night skies, blue darkness drenched buildings and buzzing orange streetlights – leathery bats playthings. The streaky blue Milky Way is just about visible on clear nights. Starlight arcs, curves and swoops atop the silhouettes of garden trees – courtesy of Glowbugs setting waypoints. Their spots always chosen to perfection for the purpose of confusing bumpsy stargazers. Shooting stars are regular: local folklore dictating that each time one passes, a struggling business venture will blossom the following day.


Come day or night, the outer fringes of Puerto Inca are an interesting place. The penumbra of the town showcases both dead and complete ideas. Plots have clearly been outlined at some point, even to the extent that roads run around them, but no activity has otherwise graced these spots. Vacant grounds, patchy scrubland and areas committed to stockpiling useless dirt piles and discarded materials are framed by a mix of dirt and rock roads. Some settlements do exist in the vast fringes, but they are typically unfinished and far from realised; two story concrete casas peering over t-junctions into nothing and the ground floors of shop-house hybrids with wiry frongs intended to make up second story pillars fraying and pointing into the air. This is the realm of feral dogs and disappointed ventures. Misfortune seems to have befallen the forward facing pioneers of these parts. It appears that most have moved on to different areas and ideas. Should the town grow, these areas would in fact be most desirable.

Puerto Inca, where everywhere comes with a dog or two! Had to make a compilation of our favourites. Shout out to Pepper, Trevor, Dennis & Daisy, Misty, Knuckles & Betty, Noodle boi, Bruno, Heidi & Schneider, Satan the sink spider, Belinda the chicken, Charlie, Raptros, Sal and more.


We are volunteering for Semillas Life in Puerto Inca, Peru, for 4.5 weeks. This video is some snippets of the first two weeks, where we were focused on building a brand new but rather basic loo for the project hut that we are staying at. It was so much fun, from scrounging around for wood to use, borrowing tools from random Peruvians, sourcing local timber and building the thing. We ended up building some extras for the hut to kit it out. Think, shelves out of dog reach which we later found out are still very much within chicken reach, a table as there was none before, a fire pit and more. We like to think we made a small but significant difference in this little space we have called home for the last 3 or so weeks and we were happy to move on to our next challenge of teaching English to kids, teens and adults in the town.