Coca. Taste the name. It is the name of a mildly intoxicating chewable leave, a world famous soft-drink, a widely spread urban drug, a large tributary river to the Amazonas River and a little town of 30.000 inhabitants in the very eastern part of the Amazon jungle. We arrive at sunrise and walk our baggage through town which is slowly waking up. Highway breakfast restaurants are open and truck-drivers are staring at us. We eat breakfast and roam around town to find a place to sleep or maybe a place to rent for some weeks, preferably close to the river.
Our accommodation-quest leads us to some local students to mythically talks about a hippie bar, close to a smaller bi-river. “A Chilean painter hangs out there and you can probably stay there for free. It is close to a river-beach”, they say. Sounds good to us. We roam through poor neighborhoods and ask for directions from curious local people, who is patiently hiding away from the hot tropical sun in the shade. We find it. It is perfect.
“CocoPele” is a little bar where the owner hosts the odd traveller, who passes through.” Just help out in the bar/restaurant, keep things clean and you can stay here”. “I am a project engineer and have helped others make a raft” the friendly owner, Jamie, tells us. Not bad. We are now 3 engineers on the project.
We walk around the neighborhood, and go to see the nearby river-beach. Also perfect. With only 2 local fishermen-houses, it is very secluded and safe. And some giant trees supply a comfortable shade. This is our place. This will be the birth-place of our raft.