Before I tell you about my trip to Puerto Inirida, I think that it might be helpful if I showed you a map of Colombia so that you can get your bearings. This map, conveniently enough, was painted on the side of a school in Inirida. I added names and arrows for Bogota, Chiquinquira, Inirida, and the Coffee and Amazon areas, which I hope to go to while in Colombia, to show the relative locations of each.
What you'll notice right away is that Inirida (in the Department of Guainia) is way off on the eastern edge of Colombia right up against Venezuela and a bit north of Brazil. As I mentioned in my Air Colombia story, you pretty much can only get there by air. I took this photo of the "entire town" and river from the plane. The port is on the river just to the left of the wing and main street extends out to the left of the port:
The town of approximately 11,000 (this number is official but seems way too high to me-they must include areas outside of the center of the town) is located at the intersection of the Inirida and Guaviare Rivers. Here's a shot of main street looking towards the river:
I loved the little, three-wheeled, motorcycle-cars that are used as taxis. From what I could tell, they are made in India. A ride across "town" costs about 3000 Pesos ($1.50 U.S.) and going "all the way out to the airport" costs about 6000 Pesos ($3.00 U.S.). The reality is the town is so small that, unless you're carrying heavy items from the store, you can walk pretty much anywhere in less than 15 minutes (and the sightseeing is better).
The rivers serve as the main transportation arteries between the villages in the area. If you hang out long enough at the port...
...you'll see pretty much everything and anything being loaded or off loaded. The people in this boat are from another village on the river and were in town to sell fruit and fish and to go shopping:
The most common method for navigating the river is in a "Bongo", which is a large wooden boat that can hold quite a bit of people and stuff.
It's amazing to me that they're made from ONE piece of wood! They're carved out of one super large tree trunk. We just don't see trees that big in the United States except maybe for the Redwoods or something like that. I've personally seen 24 people and all their stuff in one of the Bongos. To give you some perspective, this is me sitting at the back of one:
The area is tropical-very hot and verrrrrry humid. During the day, people are out doing things but it really starts to come alive in the evenings. Main street is full of families shopping, eating, and just hanging out. It's a surprisingly fun place to visit as the surrounding area is full of amazing sites like rivers in many different colors (like this red one-no, it's not polution)...
...large unusual rock formations for climbing, fishing and boating (and dolphin watching!), or just hanging out enjoying sunsets:
It's fairly difficult to get to but I definitely enjoyed the trip. I did a lot while there so I have at least a couple of more stories to post from the area. Stay tuned...