OTY: We would be pushing hundreds of gallons of jet fuel along the rivers, and layered on top of the barge fuel tanks were stacks of fifty gallon drums of gas, enough lumber to build a few houses, a truck and car, and crates of household goods. No smoking please. And could we steer clear of thunderstorms. We were riding a powder keg, and I lacked life insurance. For many of the villages down river, major freight only came one way – by barge. Since the Yukon and Nenana freeze up in the winter, summertime is the window of opportunity for transporting needed materials. (Amazon was not shipping overnight…yet. Drone delivery might save the day.) If the order is wrong, the return policy might get a little complicated. Wait ‘til next year.
OTA: Loaded aboard the AMAPura, we were a very light but precious cargo. Instructions: Handle with care. More volatile than jet fuel. In case of explosive personalities, douse with cocktails. With 30 staff and only 14 passengers, the crew was prepared for any contingency: dirty walking shoes – they provided slippers for your feet on board while they cleaned your shoes (and if you couldn’t bend over, they would slip them on for you); caffeine withdrawals at any time of the day – they delivered to your deckchair; cultural incompetence facing Burmese menu items – kitchen staff served several alternative cuisines. No one suffered inconvenience. But I could not shake the feeling as the crew secured the bow and stern lines to shore for the night, that I should be helping to tie up. I’d probably rupture something. But this old river rat has the option now of calling his travel insurance company in an emergency and flying away. Toad (of Wind in the Willows fame) would appreciate the escape plan.