Breakfast in Colombia, lunch in Peru, dinner in Brazil


The flags of Brazil, Peru and Colombia. But who has stolen my hands?

Six days on a boat munching almost nothing but lukewarm chicken, rice and beans left Sophie and I desperate to tuck into something a little more appetising.

Fortunately, our arrival at Tabatinga provided us with the perfect opportunity to reawaken our taste buds.

Situated on a triple frontier, this Brazilian town shares a border with both Colombia and Peru.

Somewhere between the stomach-churning misery of stodgy meal repeats number six and seven, we hatched a cunning plan to eat a different traditional meal in each of the countries in one day.

We decided to commence our gorge in Colombia and, after declining the opportunity to smuggle cocaine across the border (apparently £400 a kilo is the going rate), we strode confidently past two dozen machine gun-toting guards and onto Colombian soil.


Made it! Looking on from the Colombian side as soldiers patrol the border with Brazil

Despite receiving some steely stares, our backpacks weren’t checked and we didn’t even get asked to show our passports.

The following morning we sampled breakfast in the town of Leticia, featuring our first authentic Colombian coffee. It was unbelievably good – rich, thick, strong and with a slight chocolatey quality. Furthermore, unlike in Brazil, we were able to order it without sugar!

We each gobbled down a 30p arepa (tasty baked corn, butter and cheese patty, served piping hot) from one of the scores of street stalls that form as much a part of the culture in Colombia as they do in Brazil.


Street breakfast in Colombia…

Paying was interesting. Although we were now in Colombia, both the Colombian Peso and the Brazilian Real are accepted in the shops and restaurants in Leticia and Tabatinga. So having paid in Pesos, I received my change in Brazilian Reais. Very confusing!

Crossing back into Brazil, we tentatively squelched over thick mud at the bustling little port, to take a small motorized boat five minutes across the Amazon to the Peruvian town of Santa Rosa de Yavari.


Walking the planks to board the boat to Peru

To burn off our Colombian breakfast we took a walk along a dirt track through the village, stopping to play with some mischevious monkeys and for Sophie to put her fingers down the mouth of a ‘tamed’ wild cat – unnerving.


The Peruvian speciality of ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime juice and chilli) was our lunch preference, but we nearly failed to find it. The first two places we tried said they had run out. A third initially said it was on the menu, but half an hour later decided that actually it wasn’t available.

Fortunately we managed to get the last ceviche dish of the day from a nondescript little restaurant and it was worth the wait. Served with rice, sweet potato and washed down with the infamous flourescent yellow-coloured, bubble gum-flavoured Inca Kola.


The traditional Peruvian delicacy of ceviche

Late in the afternoon we made our way back across the river for dinner at the house of a friendly nurse we had met on the boat from Manaus.

Fittingly our final meal in Brazil was the national dish of feijoada – various bits of pig (tail, trotters, even ear!) with rice and manioc flour accompanied with the Brazilian cocktail, caipirinha.

We stumbled back across the border to our hotel in Colombia just before midnight, tired, slightly drunk and very full! And with lukewarm chicken, rice and beans now just a distant memory.


Triple helping: With the three flags of Brazil, Peru and Colombia


About travellingtoothbrushes

We are a couple of journalists with restless toothbrushes. Our teeth scrubbers seem unable to leap out of their respective washbags to take up a permanent residency on the bathroom shelf. So, we've decided to let them live the way they want to and take them on a trip around South America...
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2 Responses to Breakfast in Colombia, lunch in Peru, dinner in Brazil

  1. Anonymous says:

    Fab post yet again – love that you are embracing the lifestyle so fully in every way. Ma and Pa x

  2. Pete says:

    The best possible use of a unique situation. I’m drooling at those meal descriptions, and yearning for a caipirinha!

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