Aboard the M. Monteiro II

Our ship had literal gangplanks. I captured this image of Steve as he was going aboard.

I just strolled around the ship and counted the hammocks. Passengers can string them up from sturdy hooks that stud the ceiling on two of the Monteiro’s three decks.

The middle deck is most popular, maybe because it’s more protected from the wind, maybe because it’s the deck that also contains the ship’s little dining room. Just now I noted about 75 hammocks hanging there, with another two dozen on the deck above. But the count changes as the ship docks at towns along the way. Since we departed about 20 hours ago, we’ve made four stops.

To our mutual surprise, there is one other American on board, an Asian-American named Jen. She spotted us early and introduced herself. Retired from a programming job in the Bay Area, she’s chatty and intrepid. She’s been traveling in South America for several weeks and wanted to save money, so booked hammock passage rather than a cabin. This morning she said she slept okay but woke when we docked at the tiny village of Sao Pablo de Olivenca around 1 am. It was pouring then, she told us, but a bunch of the passengers disembarked, while more, silent as mice, got on, strung up their hammocks, and climbed in them to sleep.

In contrast, Steve and I are enjoying what feels like outrageous luxury. Our little “suite” has a firm double bed, covered in a fresh floral-printed sheet.

We have an air conditioner and even a working refrigerator, lots of electrical outlets, and a private bathroom that includes a shower head.

What we love most is our own little private deck space where we can move our table and chairs and write or take in the passing riverscape.

None of these fixtures are luxurious by US or European standards, but the place feels fairly clean and bug-free, and it’s great to have all the light and privacy we want, whenever we want it. It’s also nice not to have to worry about guarding our stuff. On the other hand, Steve and I hate looking or acting like rich, pampered Americans, and we’re missing out on more interaction with the locals than we would have had, were we traveling with them. We made the choice we did because we doubted we could sleep in hammocks.

Still, we bought one (for $12) in Leticia. This afternoon we plan to string it up and take turns trying it out.

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