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Meet the Peruvian Faces on an Amazon Cargo Ship

Meet the Peruvian Faces on an Amazon Cargo Ship

Picture of Brandon Dupre
Updated: 16 November 2017

A trip along the Amazon river will bring you into contact with unique people, some traveling, others looking for new experiences and most on their weekly commute, delivering goods to villages or just trying to get to somewhere new. With three days on a cargo ship along the Amazon river, you’re going to make some friends and meet new people and share experiences. Here is a look at some people on a three-day trip along the Amazon.

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

“We were recommened it by someone – they told us it was the best way to experience the jungle,” said a French girl in her 30s, searching for the right words in Spanish. She was speaking to a Peruvian mother with three girls, all of which were running up and down the stairs between the the second and top deck. The mother seemed somewhat puzzled as to why people would want to spend three days on a cargo ship strung up in a hammock. Her youngest daughter had just fallen from the last two steps and was beginning to cry. She picked up her daughter, brushing away the tears. Everything was so routine – this was her weekly commute, her familiar motions, this was her life. “It is beautiful here, isn’t?,” the mother asked, her daughter quieting down now.

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

“Why stop in Iquitos when you can transfer to another cargo ship and take it all the way to Brazil?” said a enthusiastic Canadian to a Peruvian in line waiting for lunch. “I like life on the boat and want to see the entire river – what better way to do it?’

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

“If you don’t want to pay 80 soles [for a hammock] you don’t have to come,” said the captain to a haggling passenger. “This is a cargo ship and I don’t care if you come or not.”

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

“I had give up on most everything – I was getting ready to quit truck driving,” said Pierre, a French-Canadian truck driver from Quebec. “Life seemed to be revolving in circles, the same things over and over again until I said that I’m 35 and can’t be doing this the rest of my life. I’d never feel life or accomplished.”

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

“This is my home: the boat, the river,” said a Peruvian mother of two. “I live in a village between here and Iquitos and the only way to get to it is by this boat. I sometimes wait for days on the ship while it’s docked with my children, waiting for it leave so we can make it home. It’s life here on the river, this boat.”

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

“Yes, this is our work and this is how we’re able to travel around Peru and Latin America,” said Maria Valencia, a young woman from Chile showing off her and her Italian partner’s handmade bracelets and necklaces. “We’re going to go to Iquitos and there we can hopefully sell our bracelets to make money to go to our next destination. We live and travel by our work.”

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip | Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

“I take this route every couple of weeks, bring supplies and other things our family needs from the city.”

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

He shrugged aside the fact that he was supposed to already be in the States, having missed his flight a week before just so that he could go on the cargo ship. You couldn’t tell that he’d just lost $500 by the way he carried himself, rocking back in forth in his hammock. “The Amazon changes you,” he said, as if reminding himself of something he’d forgotten. “It changes you and then you don’t ever want to leave.”

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

“The best way to past some time on this boat is to play cards and drink,” said a man who would only describe himself as a son of God without a name.

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

“This is one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had,” said Pierre, a French-Canadian from Quebec, “and it just started. When else do you have a chance to experience something like this. I was a truck driver and saved up money so that I can travel and do exactly this – live an experience that I could never have even imagined for myself before.”

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

“Yea, this is my job: I work on the boat cooking food for the passengers going between port cities every week,” said the boat’s cook, Jesus Vargas. “I like the work because I like to cook and I love being on a boat and going back and forth between Iquitos. It’s not for everyone, but I love it.”

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

“You can put up a hammock almost everywhere on this boat,” said one of the captain’s assistants named Diego, who then continued to put up a hammock above two other hammocks in a space probably best suited for only one hammock. “I’ve been doing this my whole life and can fit a hammock everywhere – everywhere.”

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip

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Mia Spingola / © Culture Trip