Diary of a Cow on the Amazons


My mighty horns were being strung by three ropes as many Peruvians tried their dearest to drag me onto the ferryboat Putomayo.  I made several attempts to take charge at these annoying insects of humans, but it was to no avail.  They have mastered the equilateral triangle technique of pulling on my horns, to subdue and enslave me.  While I tried to charge at one of them, the other two would pull me from behind.  The tensions of the ropes pulled against my horns while I charged was unbearable, but I kept trying to destroy those who imprisoned me despite the fact that to give in was much easier.
My cow brothers also tried to get out of the shackles but they have failed.  Now their horns, once a symbol of pride and a given ability to defend themselves, is used to tie their bodies to a makeshift wooden beam.  Each noise they is a composition in the symphony of misery and torture.
I didn’t want to be one of them.  You see, we are being shipped to Iquitos, a place where you can’t be transported by land, yet the people’s need for beef has pushed us onto boats. 
The ferry journey lasts three days, but in south america, three days mean four.  No man would allow us cows to flight to Iquitos, yet man forsake their rights to fly and choose to take the ferry anyways.  From my measly hearing, they say, “It will be an adventure!” “Let’s be positive!”, And of course, “This is worse than I thought”.  These humans take sixteen hours of bus ride from Trujillo to Tarapoto where they take a taxi of equal cost as the bus for three hours through the Cordillera Escalera rainforest where signs noted of a Jaguar populace, in order to reach my current town, Yurimaguas. 
Yurimaguas is a place full of motor taxis aka tuk tuk, diseased dogs, and pretty much absolutely nothing to do.  Yet the wifi in this town is surprisingly fast, possibly due to the fact that no one is there to share the bandwidth.  Food is hard to find, the street is dirty, but Yurimaguas is the primary port to sail off into the amazons region through river Marañon. 
Well, here I am, at the port, being dragged onto a small plank.  My fate spells a scenario much like my cow brothers, yet I hoped my physical prowess would cause harm to these slavers.  The boat is big.  The whole front half is for us cows and maybe even an automobile and some electronics.  The boat has three floors in the back section.  The very back is the boiler room.  The first floor is stuffed with food items for transport, and more electronics.  The folks of Iquitos need their televisions and refrigerators.  The second floor held cereals and eggs.  The third floor held a coup full of chickens and ducks  Among the second and third floor, humans are also a major transport as they pay 80 soles to go to Nauta and some pay 100 soles to Iquitos with us. 
These humans set up their hammock, on the beams of the boat and then proceed to sleep through the sweat and dirt caused by the jungle heat and river breeze for the remainder of the three days while they drift down the Marañon river and then merge with the Amazons river.  The smell is quite unbearable, and bugs are all over the place, and some even bring along their own pet chickens. 
While us cows are fed with the shittiest hay they can find, the human eat things of far worse standarr.  Humans lineup to the kitchen like it is a prison cafeteria where the man lady cook named Pablo pours soup for breakfast and dinner.  The lunch is chicken from the third floor with a side of rice.  The soup is flavored by the chicken being cooked for lunch.  Despite all this, humans take the ferry nonetheless for one reason or another. 
They are still struggling to move me onto the boat as I fight and fight for my freedom.  From the corner of my eyes, I can see the board on the ferry that says the boat is leaving at 230PM today.  Well, my cow o’clock tells me it’s already 4PM and things aboard isn’t half ready.  These humans have been on the boat since 10AM and surely they aren’t happy for this delay. 
As I fought for my freedom, more deckhand joined.  They kicked me and pulled harder.  Some white girls walked past me carefully from the boat to buy more bread and water.  They should have brought more because this ferry sire isn’t leaving anytime soon.  Their faces showed the utmost disapproval, but there was nothing they can do.
As I fought my legs gave out and I fell off the plank into the muddy river bay.  My thousand pounds body full of the premium asado failed make a single splash but I knew the fight was over.  I wasn’t able to get up.  For the next hour they pulled and dragged my half beaten body onto the boat.  Propped me up onto the tail and tied me there.  I felt my bones were broken and my body weak, but the giant green letter on my back indicates that I’m just cow number 37, I’m just a prisoner. 
At 9PM, as all the brothers are tied horns to rail onto the ferry, they started to load the cars and electronics.  Our moans of suffering decreased as we admitted to our fate.  The symphony of suffering reaches its end, yet the suffering just began.  We stayed silent, the only sound is the deckhands working and occasional complaints from the human section about the damn ferry still not moving. 
Then the marine came and the short ferry captain that reminds me of a tree stump ran upstairs.  You see, the Putumayo isn’t a human transporting ship like some other bigger ferries such as the Eduardo IX.  Those bigger ferries are equiped with life jackets and they don’t transfer animals.  The tree stump captain, he happens to have the only life jacket on the ferry, and he is also making side money transporting folks across. 
So the captain asked the humans to get on a small boat while the marine checked for humans.  The elderly and children are escorted to hide in the boiler room while the more capable humans are put into the small boat. 
There was a misunderstanding that the small boat will take everyone to another boat where everyone will wait for the big ferry to catch up. 
Foreign passengers went up to the captain, asking for money back so they can take another boat on the morrow, but the captain did his best impression of pretending to be busy.  He walked away when asked of him, and said wait when a question was fired toward him.  This captain would do well as a president one day.
The small boat wasn’t going to another big boat, but it was to stay on the water and wait for the big ferry.  What people don’t know is that my cow eyes can see far, even in the darkness of the night.  With the bright moon glistening over the calm river water, I saw the small boat engine failing and the boat hitting a tree stump and helplessly docked by the side of the jungle. 
This is the magical time where the Peruvians who have taken the river journey just falls to sleep or play the same salsa songs with different lyrics loudly while those first time boat takers sit in panic hoping this won’t be the entire night. 
Of course I wouldn’t be happy in that situation either, but my situation, tied and beaten in this ferry is much worse.  The flies roamed in the dark of the night, and the night is warm, a bit too warm and humid.  Sitting on a dead boat by the jungle sucks, but so is tied up here.
At about 11PM, the boat is finally loaded and my brothers and I set out on the Puomayo to pick up these humans. 
They were glad, they were pissed, and they were relieved.  It was a mix of emotions, and of course the expression of “what’s next?” shone on the face of these first time boat takers.  At least, the river breeze brought the cold air that put all passengers include my brothers and I to sleep, thus concluded our first night on the Amazon River.
I along with my brothers and the passengers are woken up bright and early by the crowing of the chicken.  Humid sensation is left on my skin yet I still felt cold in the morning river breeze.  Us cows don’t get to shower, but the humans do.  Yet the shower water is brown and the shower is also the toilet and it is already occupied by the bugs and spiders despite its only been a night.
Hours were spent between trying to fall sleep and not really making it happen until the metal on metal knocking sound of breakfast came around.  We were tossed hay to eat, yet we were so cramped together, lowering our heads was impossible.  The humans gathered in a line with their plastic boxes like they are in a prison yard.  Soups of unknown ingredients were poured into their plastics and people sat around sipping on the soup.  They say something is better than nothing, but to me nothing seems to be the better option right now. 
Between breakfast and lunch, nothing happened.  Except of course the boat stopped at every village.  Thatch leafs left the boat while plantains came in.  Between transports the small transport boat is put upon our back like we are just a piece of furniture.  Oh right, the boat can’t exactly afford furniture. 
I can distinctively hear that the humans think the boat is doing the villagers a favor by bringing them stuff. 
More stops came and went and we still haven’t got to the Pacaya Samiria national park yet.  The national park is a well conserved part of the Amazons, many people came to see the animals flourish in the park and I, despite being enslaved, seeing other creatures roaming free would make my life better. 
Lunch time came and the man lady served pasta and chicken.  We tried to eat the hay but again to no avail.  Nothing really happened and the boat kept moving. 
The national park finally came in sight as things became more beautiful.  The narrow passage of the river became wide and the dirty brown color of the water became more of a pretty brown, if such thing exist.  The shower is still brown water and the food is still shit, but the stops by the villages became more interesting.  The pink dolphins that well known to the amazons began to appear. 
Some people didn’t believe dolphins exist in rivers.  They claim dolphins belong to the sea and they can’t be pink. Well dolphins swim free in the Amazons and white dolphins don a pink suit after spending times in the amazons. 
At these village stops, pink dolphins swim free and it was quite a sight even for me as the small boat weighs us to the ground. 
On these stops, people throw food in the water to feed the fishes.  Ridiculous amount of catfishes swam to tear at the food.  They even surface to catch spits, every disturbance on the water leads to a school of fish rising to the surface. 
Some boys throw fishing hooks in the water and they would catch catfishes every minute.  I was to imagine these fishes suffered a worse fate than us.
Dinner was soup again and we all slept in.  It rained in the middle of the night.  The humans have covers for the rain, but us, our skins were our cover. 
The next morning the cloud hung over the sky, it was a huge contrast to the sunny landscape from the day before.  Cloud hang so low over the horizon that we might as well be in Africa.  The threat of rain is imminent and random, but no one seemed to cared and everyone seemed to welcome it instead of the ever increasing humidity and heat.  The cloudy bluish sky makes the perfect contrast against the brownish river.  It seems nature has provided the perfect pair of complementary not found on the color wheel.
Even the chickens didn’t bother to crow without the sun.  Everyone woke up to the metal on metal announcement of breakfast. 
It was soup again and the hay was still unreachable.  Through the night rain and lack of food, some of our brothers are falling down and laying on top of another as if dead.  I thought I would be gone soon, yet still I stood.  The torture is never-ending and I do hope this third day is the last day. 
The third day wasn’t.  It rained, then it didn’t.  Then the sun came out amongst the clouds.  Lunch was served by man lady and it was chicken and rice.  Less stops were made because there were less villages.  The boat went on, quite boringly.  Out den got more dirty, and so did the humans’ bathrooms. 
At sunset, the same two foreign girls came out to watch the sunset.  They came out quite often and they seemed to be quite sympathetic over our pain.  The fiery sun set over the distant jungle, lighting the dark clouds on fire.  The sun was there and then it was gone, and everyone went back for the soup dinner. 
At 7PM at night, the boat stopped at Nauta, the last town before Iquitos.  Most passengers got out since one can bus to Iquitos from Nauta and the deckhands started to unload the chickens, eggs, cars and electronics.
We had to stay because we were headed to Iquitos, but so did some other travelers. 
The lady captain told all the humans decided to stay to hide in the boiler room if the marine decides to show up.  The captain was no where to be found again. 
Not much happened except movements and the gathering of mosquitos.  The boat set out again at 10PM.  The captain said the boat will get to Iquitos around 3AM, but no one is to get out until the break of dawn. 
At this point I have submitted to my fate and I am just waiting to get to Iquitos, and then possibly be slaughtered and eaten by the humans aboard.  The same girls who sympathized my pain will probably share my meat unknowingly. 
The ferry boat reached Iquitos around 430AM.  I was awoken by the light in the distant horizon.  Over the city of Iquitos, the light pollution lit up the cloudy sky.  The horizon appeared yellow despite the sun isn’t to rise for another hour.  The yellow aurora led the way for the boat to dock, and we fell asleep again. 
When dawn broke, the journey was at an end.  It should be a relief for everyone, but it wasn’t without accidents. 
I was woken up not by the incoming light, but one of the foreign girls asking the captain about her lost shoes.  This time the captain was available, but the lost shoes aren’t.  This of course puts a black shade of dot on their otherwise “wonderful” boat ride. 
The humans gathered their things and sailed off in a motor boat to another dock to take tuk tuk to the city, while I stayed and watched as I waited to be carry to some meat factory to be cut up. 
This was my passage to heaven. 


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