So what else happened?

 

Let me tell you about the biggest regret of my life. 

 

I needed to get from Colombia to Peru, and had heard of a 12 hour speed boat that takes you across the Amazon river. I wasn't exactly sure how to book it, so I walked into a tiny travel agency that sold boat tickets in this tiny Amazon town called Leticia. The girl at the counter didn't speak English so she called over Frito - a friendly, pudgy man in his late 50s, wearing a striped polo shirt and a face marked with acne scars. Frito told me that the only boat to Iquitos was leaving tomorrow morning at 4am, but I had to be at the docks by 3am and the price is 160 COP ($80).  "Cool, i'll take" I told Frito.

 

"Ok," he said calmly, "you need get passport stamp before you go. Colombia first, then Peru."  

Hey alright, no problem. How do I get those stamped?  Turns out, you need to go back to the airport, then to Brazil where you to exchange your money into Colombian Pesos, Peruvian Soles, and Brazilian Real.  Then you can buy your boat ticket, not for the small boat but the speed boat which leaves tomorrow at 3am, and you buy this in a place called "TAB-A-TING-GA!" with an exclamation point at the end. So once you get your actual boat ticket, you come back to Colombia, hop on the small boat to this Peruvian island, get your second stupid passport stamp, get back on the dingy and float on back.

 

Frito saw my concern for this insane, impromptu plan (the sun was setting at this point) and that's when he offered this unbelievably kind and generous suggestion - "Would you like a companion?" A companion? Frito, are you offering to drive a stranger around three separate countries on the back of your moped for the next three hours?

 

Ok!

 

With three kinds of money in my pocket and a rolled up poster in my hand (which I can only imagine was a sign warning tourists to the horrors of passport stamping), I spent the next three hours on the back of a motobike, clutching the soft, doughy flesh of Frito's torso. We went to the airport, to Brazil, to the dollar exchange guy, to the office, back to Brazil, then to the boats, and then to the grocery store. By then it was dark, and Frito offered to drive me home.

 

We said goodbye, I shook his hand and walked into my house. Then the regret of my life, the shame that will forever follow me, until death, was released.

 

I DIDN'T TIP HIM.