Taking a bunch of people out
into the middle of the Amazon River basin is no easy task. It
takes a lot of skilled people working behind the scenes to make
sure everything runs smoothly and that everyone is comfortable
and well fed. The crew not only made our trip comfortable they
also shared with us their knowledge of the amazing place in which
they live. We are very grateful to them.
ROGER GADEA (Captain)
Roger is the first in command of our vessel. He is responsible
for all the people onboard and for making sure the crew
does their jobs. The Peruvian Navy has many rules governing
boats. The captain has to make sure he knows them and follows
all of them. There are special navigation cards or permits
needed to travel the rivers of Peru.
The Amazon River and its tributaries are very difficult
to navigate because they are constantly changing, depending
on the time of year and the level of the water. Maps and
charts of the rivers are out of date before they are even
printed, so nobody uses them. Captain Roger learned how
to navigate these rivers from experience. He has spent many
years on the rivers and knows them by heart. The captain
-- or "Capi" as we call him -- wanted to make sure that
we knew he never forgets that he is carrying important cargo;
Captain Roger began working on the river as the assistant
to a boat cook and then became a waiter. He then went into
the Peruvian Navy for two years and learned how to pilot
boats. He also worked for a local oil company. During the
oil boom in the 1970s, Captain Roger worked as a navigator
for Petro Peru. He now works whenever local boats need a
captain. Otherwise he lives in Iquitos with his wife and
son. Captain Roger's other seven children are grown up and
live with their own families.
FERNANDO AHUANARI (Engineer)
Fernando's job is to make sure that all the machinery on
board the boat is running smoothly. He works on are the
engines, generator and the other machines which run the
boat. His job requires a lot of experience with machines,
because if something breaks out on the river, there is no
where to go for help.
When Fernando was 12 he went to live in a Catholic boarding
school. The sisters had him work on boats so that he would
have a job when he was older. He first learned how to fix
machines by watching other men. At the age of 15 he moved
to Iquitos. He has worked in the engine rooms of boats since
Fernando has six kids, three boys and three girls. He likes
to play soccer and travel with the tourists. When he took
us out in the small boats we learned that he has great eyes
for spotting animals which hide in the bush. He knows a
lot about birds and animals. He can identify animals in
the dark just by the sound of the splash they make when
entering the water or by their calls.
LIZARDO INACUARI (Navigator)
is the navigator on the boat. Navigators decide which direction
to move the boat. They make sure that the boat is going
to the right place and that the boat doesn't hit anything
or run aground.
Lizardo learned how to navigate while he was in the Peruvian
Navy. He thinks big boats are easier to navigate because
they have sophisticated equipment to assist in finding hazards
on the river. However, on the Delfin, the crew navigates
by sight. They read the currents and the color of the water.
At night flashlights must be used to locate the bank of
the river and check for any debris that may be floating
Lizardo has five sons and lives in Iquitos. In his spare
time he enjoys playing soccer.
ARTURO CORDOVA (Pilot)
is one of the two pilots on the boat. His job is to drive
the boat and the small skiffs. He started working on boats
as a waiter and spent all his free time helping and watching
the boat pilots. When Arturo was younger he wanted to become
an airplane pilot, but instead he learned how to pilot boats.
Arturo lives with his wife, three daughters and a son in
Iquitos. When he is not piloting the boat he helps build
houses and government buildings in Iquitos.
CELESTINO MACEDO (Pilot)
Celestino is the other pilot of the
boat. His job is to drive the boat when Arturo is resting,
as the boat often travels by night and day. He and Arturo
take six-hour shifts piloting the boat. Like many of the
other crew members, Celestino learned how to motor boats
in the Peruvian Navy.
In Iquitos, Cellestino lives with
his two sons, daughter and wife. He grew up in the village
of Caballococha. When he is not on the boat, he likes to
build furniture. Celestino is happy to have a job as the
HORACIO ASCARATE (Chef)
oversees the kitchen and make sure everyone is fed. He makes
three meals a day for twenty people in a kitchen the size
of a small closet. He decides on the menu, orders the food
and makes sure it is ready on time.
Horatio learned to cook from his mother, His uncle helped
him to get his job as a cook. When he is not cooking, Horatio
helps the rest of the crew with painting and carpentry work
on the boat.
Horatio was born in Piura, which is north of Lima, but
now lives with his daughter and wife in Iquitos. When he
has free time he likes to draw and paint. Horatio is a good
friend and kind person.
Everyone also agrees that he is a very good chef.
MELANIO MAYNAS (Cook)
Melanio is a cook on the boat. His job is to assist the
chef and make
sure the food tastes good and is prepared on time. He also
washes the dishes.
The chef and cook have to make sure that they cook the
food special ways so that the passengers don't get sick.
Tourists aren't use to the water, so the cook has to be
very careful how he prepare fresh fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables which can't be peeled must be cooked
or they must be washed carefully with purified or specially
Melanio has worked on boats for the same company for fifteen
years. He has also worked as a cook in a jungle lodge.
Melanio is from Pucallpa and now lives in Iquitos with
his wife and five children. When he is not working as the
cook on the boat, he likes to play soccer and make a lot
LIDER NOLORBE FATAMA (Bartender)
is the bartender on our trip. He has been a bartender on
boats for nine years. His job is to make sure there are
enough bottled sodas and other drinks in the cooler for
all the passengers and crew. He must keep track of how many
beverages each passenger drinks, and give each of them their
bar bill at the end of the trip. He has to be good at math
and very organized.
Like most of the crew members, Lider also preforms other
duties on the boat. He assists the passengers by straightening
their rooms and keeping the boat clean. Lider started out
working as assistant bartender in a jungle lodge and then
moved to the boats.
Lider has learned a lot about the world by working on the
boats. He takes every opportunity to talk to and learn
from the passengers and his fellow crew members. The passengers
give him a chance to practice his English, which he feels
is very important to learn. During our week on the boat,
he spent a lot of his free time learning how to use computers.
Lider grew up in the town Francisco Horellana with his
four brothers and parents. He moved to Iquitos when he was
NEIL GUERRA (Waiter)
is the waiter on the boat. He makes sure all the food is
served out on time and that the tables are set. When the
passengers come to meals, Neil explains in English what
is in each dish and how it was prepared. He also makes sure
that the passengers have enough to eat, and that no one
misses a meal.
Neil works on the boat to earn money for his living expenses
when he attends college. Like Lieder, working with passengers
gives him an opportunity to improve his English skills.
Neil was born and raised in a town called Yanamono, where
his parents still live. When he was a boy, Neil worked with
his parents on a sugar can plantation. After completing
elementary school at age 12, he moved to Iquitos with his
brother and sister. In Iquitos he completed high school
and some advanced studies in computers. He will start computer
science at the university next year.