Bye Bye Machete, Rubber Boots; Hello Andes Foothills and Dangerous People
The last progress we heard from Casey was at the end of June. For four months now Casey has been waiting in the town of Atalaya to amass enough funding, to acquire the right permits for the indigenous regions, and to find a guide.
A momentous new stage of the expedition was now beginning. Casey could finally lay to rest his machete and rubber boats and don his mountain boots!
But this was not a journey to be taken lightly and there were considerable upcoming hazards from drug lords, the Sendaro Luminouso (a Marxist guerrilla group), or simply from members of the Ashaninka indigenous group. The area has had a long history of horrible exploitation by foreigners and outsiders and many were wary of foreigners. Only four months ago, one of the villages on the river, San Miguel, was attacked by terrorists killing 18 people, including women and children.
And his walking partner? After an exhaustive search, no locals would agree to walk with Casey out of fear for the region. Finally, he turned to his former guide, Quentisha (see the last update). He agreed, “I have no fear at all – the Ashaninka are all my brothers and sisters."
They followed the lower Tambo tributary of the Amazon out of Atalaya. The journey proceeded without event. It was dry season so they stuck close to the river since the water level was down and they could climb or scramble along rocky, boulder-strewn beaches.
The Tambo eventually turns into the Ene River. Eventually, they reached the next confluence, where the Ene River divides into the Mantaro and the Apurimac tributaries.
As he originally planned, Casey is following the Apurimac because its source is commonly agreed upon as 'the most distant point with an uninterrupted flow of the Amazon River'. However, some have pointed out that the Mantaro starts at a point that is more distant from the mouth of the Amazon. Casey proceeded on the Apurimac but he seems to be entertaining the idea of coming back and following the Mantaro just to cover all bases. There isn't enough information yet, he admits, to know if he might be breaking a record by doing so.
Finally, along the Apurimac, they passed through cacao and coca plantations and then onto dirt roads where they heard the tremendous seasonal choruses of cicadas. Then back down to the river at the town of Pichari and, just past, to the town of San Francisco. It was here where Casey was forced to part with Quentisha since his money had run out and he just had enough to pay Quentisha to get back home.
This is where we leave Casey for now. Gone are the rainforests and he is at the foothills to the Andes. His decision to consider continuing the journey alone seems to hint that he may now be past the dangerous areas. If he does decide to have a guide, Casey informs us he will need to speak Quechua since that is a common language of the indigenous groups in the upcoming regions.