Travel Philosophy vs Travel Reality: The Crossing of the Mamore River

You have probably been asked: “That does travel mean to you? Why do you travel? Are you trying to find yourself? Are you trying to discover the inner you?”

These questions always crack me up! I have to say, travel doesn’t need to mean anything. I think the mere fact of getting out of your daily routine to be somewhere different is enough!

With the philosophical hat on, I will try to compose what people expect me to think about a simple trip briefly. (People = the inquisitors)

The Crossing of the Mamore River

Ah! What a beautiful place! Leaving the town of Guajara-Mirim and seeing the brown waters of the river, you can’t help but ask yourself: Is there really a God? Such majesty, life all around me, I couldn’t help myself but question the mysteries of life. There is something much great at play here that I can’t quite explain. While crossing the river on boats that are mostly immersed in that sea of life, you feel part of it. Such a massive river that almost loses itself in the horizon, you feel like the sunset is almost becoming part of you. Suddenly, fishes just skimming the surface follow the boat alongside. You feel like you are part of it all, you belong there.

What a heart-warming story, right? Let me put the reality hat on now.

The Crossing of the Mamore River

Guajara-Mirim is a cool place! Very small, but an strategic town in Brazil, as it is right on the border with Bolivia. The Mamore River is the natural border for a good fraction between the two neighbouring countries. Before boarding the boat, you have to pass though customs, so that the federal police can check if you are carrying anything illegal and check if your documents are up to date. Then you are ready to board. The Mamore River is a pretty cool place, I must say. It’s massive and extremely beautiful and as a lover of sunrises and sunsets, it’s a perfect spot. The boat is diesel powered and depending on the direction of the wind, the fumes will blow right back at you. It’s not so nice, but well, it’s part of it! The crossing takes about 5 minutes to the town of Guayeramerin, in Bolivia. As they don’t accept brazilian reais, you must go to the bureau de change, which are just slightly obese men sitting on a chair. Talking to a local, I asked “What’s typical of the region”, then he said “Guayeramerin is a cultural wasteland, it only exists because it is a tax free bordering town, so that brazilian can buy stuff here and sell for a profit across the border”.

Then you may ask me: Why the hell did I go over there? First, I wanted to cross the river and get to know some Bolivians and the place. If it was a wasteland, it’s for me to decide. Second, my dad needed a belt sander… it was much cheaper across the border!

What travel means to me? I got the experience to meet some locals, hang around for a couple of days, experience the culture and return home! It was pretty cool!

3 thoughts on “Travel Philosophy vs Travel Reality: The Crossing of the Mamore River

    • I think I am a very factual traveller… I love travelling and going to new places, meet new people and immerse myself in the culture… but I can’t see beyond what I am looking and learning. Maybe it changes who I am…. maybe..

      Thank you for the comment!

      • I hear you…I tend to travel a bit too and I’m sure it changes me but I think it’s best to not realize those changes…at least not until I’m old and reflective

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