Letters

Dear Bill,
What a wonderful trip!  Exceeded
expectations in every way and our
expectations were pretty high
after our email exchange.  Sarah
said that she knew that we were
in good hands as soon as she saw
you with the sign “Frank” at the
airport.  And she was absolutely
right.
The short version is that you, Marmelita, and the rest of the crew gave
us an introduction to one of the most exotic places on the planet on a,
comfortable, squeaky clean, well designed, safe boat that is ready for
service in either the Peruvian or the U.S. Navy.  The food was
extraordinary and could not be had meal after meal in Lima, New York,
or London.  The crew was wonderful.  They were not scripted people
from visitor services whose smile came off at the end of a shift but
people who made us feel like guests on their boat, real people who
simply busted their tails to ensure that we had a great time.  And a
large selection of critters was seen throughout the day.  And we did not
take up the fishing, swimming, caiman catching, canoeing, and other
Amazon III allowed us to be perfectly relaxed and open the sights,
sounds, and smells of Amazonia.

As in all of our travels, we wanted to see something that we had never
seen before.  The Iquitos of the rubber barons and of today and the
Amazon rain forest that you showed us was very much something that
we had never seen.  Our experience with beautiful birds, mammals, fish,
and reptiles were simply unlike anything else on earth.  The visit to the
Iquitos market where the only familiar items were chickens, eggs, and
ham really set us up to see the source of the endless rows of strange
foods and medicines.  (Visitors can see the market, critters, and sunrise
and dusk on your site, a list is really meaningless compared to the
images—there may not be pictures of the pink and gray dolphins that we
saw, but we did, more than once.)  Even some ordinary things such as
ocean going container ships were bizarre because there was no ocean for
hundreds of miles.  Our creek joins the Rappahannock at a place where
the river is a mile wide but the Amazon in high water seemed much
bigger.  Amazing.

Tibet, some of the remote parts of India and Africa and perhaps running
the Colorado through the Grand Canyon are the only things that are
rivals for “exotic” in our experience.  We had hoped for that sense on
the Galapagos but even in a small party, the tight control and paths
made it hard to imagine Darwin.  On the observation deck, especially, at
dawn or dusk, I could easily imagine Orellana in 1541 making the first
descent by a European.

Sarah and I had agreed that going to the Amazon would be wet, hot,
and buggy but something that we had to do.  It was none of that to our
surprise and delight.  Except the tropical downpour that caught Sarah,
Marmelita, the guide, and the boys from village, we did not get wet.  
Marmelita was of course equipped with ponchos and it ended up being a
treat for Sarah.  It was a treat for me too, but I watched from the
double bed in our cabin through the open door.  Bugs?  Not the biting
kind on the Nanny with its special pH due to the white sandy soil.  The
Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve may be unique in this respect, but
God Bless it for allowing me to get out of my Buzz-Off long sleeves and
chemical pants.  That certainly helped to keep me cool, but it really
wasn’t that hot, not to people accustomed to Virginia summers.  The
design of the air circulation vents combined with the drawing power of
the fans made being in the cabin night and day quite comfortable.  The
reflective white paint and clever, layered insulation between the
observation and the deck knocked back the temperature by ten to fifteen
degrees.

We expected good food but not the sort of astonishing array of native
foods, a new fresh juice at every meal, entrees that, if they could be
had, would go for $75 each in New York.  It went on, meal after meal as
you well know.  Food is the only real danger that your guests should
worry about.  There is a serious danger of overeating with the
exceptional cuisine that has to be unique to Dawn III.  And a very nice
selection of excellent wine from Argentina and Chile to compliment the
meal was offered.  We have always followed the Foreign Service advice
of never eating local salad and we were thrilled to learn that all of the
vegetables were soaked and then washed in pure water.  And the salads
were a constantly changing treat.  The galley’s cleanliness left no
doubts about the food unlike the iffy galleys that we saw in China and
India.

Sarah and I both want to stress how comfortable the crew made us
feel.  Marmelita, as you know, is joyful in her role of keeping the guests
and the crew happy.  It shows in every way.  Everyone forward seemed
to get into the search for birds, animals, and flowers.  We felt as if we
were part of a team of five or six all trying to make the first sighting and
then show the others.  Alberto’s ability to imitate the birdcalls was first
rate.  Judy, chef extraordinaire, was also a great birder—shows you what
growing up in the jungle will do for you.  Marjorie slipped into our room
every day while we were at breakfast to clean and change the bed
singing in her beautiful voice.  She and Lupa kept the boat spotless.  
When Edison was not steering the boat or spotting birds he must have
been maintaining the engine or cleaning the engine room.  The engine
hummed and the room was immaculate unlike anything that I have seen
before.

The trip was a very special one for us.  Even better, we came away with
new friends in you and Marmelita.

Frank

If anyone wants to be in touch with me about any aspect of our trip,
please feel free to tell them to contact me at bfjewell@hughes.net.
Our family had an amazing
experience on the Dawn on the
Amazon III.  Bill created an
itinerary just for us that included
jungle hikes, encounters with
monkeys and pink dolphins,
fishing, swimming, bird watching,
shopping for boat oars in Belen,
and visits to villages off the
beaten path.  The boat is
beautiful and comfortable, and
our kids enjoyed the freedom
they had to explore it at will.  We
ate like kings and were treated royally by the warm and knowledgeable
staff that accompanied us.  They thought of everything, providing
candy to give to village children, bringing out ponchos for our jungle
hike in the rain, and handing us binoculars to look for birds and
animals in the trees.  Our trip left us feeling relaxed and invigorated--a
fantastic combination.

Robb and Linda
Frank and Sarah birdwatching on Dawn on the Amazon III
Birdwatching Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve
Will and Sophie on Dawn on the Amazon III
Will and Sophie on Dawn on the Amazon III
Hi Bill,
THANK YOU so much for
EVERYTHING!!! Steve and I had a
fabulous time both on the Dawn
lll and at the Jungle Cabin. We
could not have asked for better
hosts. You and Marmelita have
wonderful hospitality. Our trip to
Iquitos was perfect! We look
forward to a day that we can
come back and BOTH be on the
Dawn lll, as I think my raft racing career is officially over. It was the trip
of a lifetime and we are eternally grateful.
Heidi
Just wanted to send a quick note of thanks for the fun trip our group
enjoyed on your boat. The river was mesmerising and I don't think I'll
ever tire of gazing into the jungle.

Can you also please pass on my thanks and best regards to the lovely
Marmelita, who was a tremendously warm and inspiring guide. You were
indeed right when you asserted that she was the "best catch" you'd
encountered on your fishing expeditions!

I hope to venture that way again sometime soon and if so, I won't
hesitate to explore the river a little more on another Dawn on the
Amazon tour.

In the interim, warmest wishes and good luck with the bar/cafe venture.

Regards
Deirdra Robinson (the Irish one)