The Amazonian tour started at nine o’ clock. Pick up, drop back pack at the office and a drive to the other harbour. I was in the car with three older people from Austria. They asked where I was from, Australia, we had a laugh about the fact that people always confuse Austria and Australia! Then asked asked how long I was travelling and after that never spoke another word to me again! Oops! Is it the dreadlocks?? Weird!
We had to take a boat ride. This boat stopped at the meeting of the waters! This is where the two rivers, rio Negro and rio Soliminos. There is a distinct line. The Rio Negro, the black river, is much warmer, much slower and the water has a different density.for these reasons the two rivers don’t immediately mix. So for kilometres the rivers run along side of each other, before their waters mix and become the Amazon river. In English we call the whole river the Amazon, which has to be so, if they want to claim that it is the longest river in the world!! Due to the fact that it was cloudy, the line was difficult to see.
After the boat ride we went on to a bus!! Unbelievable! I had NO idea that there were ROADS and a BUS service in the jungle!! I am aware how terribly ignorant I am! I am learning new things daily! When we finally arrived, I have no idea how long it took as I promptly fell asleep! We were all given a most delicious lunch. All together we were ten people in the group. Four young people from Italy, a young couple from Spain, the three Austrians and myself. So much for never more than EIGHT!
Stefano and Tigre.
As the boat arrived at the jungle camp, this man called out my name! Eh?? Who knows that I am ME? It was the cricket man from Manaus, James, who works for Gero tours! What a small world we have! After lunch we sorted out our beds in a very full dormitory, the Austrians had a private room. Then a boat trip down the large river. I was beside myself when I saw my first two pink dolphins!! My guide told me they were grey! But as he had his back to them, and I saw them ever so clearly, I disputed his ” sighting”! Luckily we saw two more, an awesome sight! They are much different from grey Dolphins. Their fins have developed in a different way to deal with looking for food in mangroves when the river overflows. Also their top fin is much smaller.
A couple of us had a swim in the Amazon! I can’t tell you how incredibly exciting it was to have a swim in the Amazon!! I have now swum in the Nile, Zambezi river and the Amazon!! Hm! Might see if I can swim in the five major rivers! Afterwards we went to a jungle bar. Amazingly the price of the beer was the same as the price at the Manaus hostel! On the way back we stopped for the sunset! And what a sunset it was! Unbelievably stunning. Another great day was finished!
That evening we all went to the camp’s bar. It was time to have my first caipirinha. The bar man, Toucanero, was a recently widowed elderly man , who has fourteen children! No television in the jungle I reckon! Since he was in my age group he took a shine to me, and my caipirinha although lovely, totally floored me! My father always told me to lead a balanced life, so I had a second one, one for each leg!! Marina, the Italian girl and Tiziano, played the guitar and started singing! Then one of the young guides, Sarmento, joined in. Stunningly beautiful voices. How unbelievably beautiful. Here I am in the middle of the Amazonian jungle listen to live music of total professionals. How blessed I am. How incredibly blessed!
I was up at five am the next morning, walked to the boat ramp. James and four people in his group were already there. In what should have been a beautiful quiet morning was disturbed by angry voices. His group was meant to go on a boat for a sunrise tour, but their boat driver didn’t show up. So lots of yelling, angry voices, no dolphins no monkeys, the man kept saying, but they also missed all the birds waking up. Poor James kept saying “why are you yelling at me?I am HERE!” The woman wanted him to ring the driver, except there is no reception out in the Amazonian jungle!! In the end there was NO sunrise as it was too cloudy! But all four people had missed the Here and Now of another beautiful morning.
Tiziano, Stefano, Tigre and Marina , the four Italians.
We had a gorgeous jungle walk, saw monkeys, stunningly beautiful butterflies, a tarantula’s nest, (the spider refused to come out!) Marina and I were the only two willing to try a white worm! Like a witchity grub, but smaller, it tasted like peanut butter. Tiziano tried one after he saw we didn’t drop dead on the spot! There was so much to see and take in. It was supposedly a two hour jungle walk, but we took much longer. My knee gave me an enormous amount of grief. I am starting to get utterly fed up with this knee! It is the same age as my other one, so why be such a pain? I might have to go bed and see a specialist when I get back! Sigh. Such a boring drag!!
When we came back from the walk after four hours of walking it was lunch time. People got terribly upset that I wanted to miss lunch!! Couldn’t make them understand that normally I only eat once a day!! My stomach is upset again, which has a lot to do with the two caipirinhas last night! James fussed over me like, I was going to say an old woman, but since I never fuss over anybody, I can’t use this expressions! So he fussed, a lot! Made me lemon grass tea. This did help, but since it was self inflicted, I didn’t want ANY fuss whatsoever!! An afternoon nap, and I declined to go Pirahna fishing. I had already done this before. Three hours on a boat without a toilet nearby didn’t seem such a good idea!
Instead I sat at the boat ramp, solitary, silence, meditation, and nature just came to me!! Canaries flew in sat nearby. Bright yellow, orange and birds that were mixed. I took photos with the camera, but didn’t want to disturb this precious moment with getting the iPad out of my bag! It was just like Henry Theroux wrote in Walden Pond. All you need to do is sit still , be quiet and nature will roll at your feet in pure ecstasy. It is just so silent, boats puttering along, staff going home, and me taking it all in, to be alone for a couple hourswas pure, undiluted bliss!
One of the guides, who was waiting for his boat ride, heard monkeys nearby. We went in search of them, and right there, not ten meters away, was a group of Capuchin monkeys in a nearby tree. Ismael grabbed some bananas from the kitchen and we watched the action. Ismael tried capturing the action on my camera, but I had not set it on the movement setting. I just watched in awe! Then the group returned with nine Pirahnas. It was dinner time! Pirahna is not my favourite fish to eat! Too many bones, too small, although utterly delicious, a lot of work for a few mouthfuls.
That night, after eating the Pirahnas, we went caiman hunting. This was a bit of a farce. Gillman caught a baby caiman, we got to hold it, several photos were taken,( non on the iPad) and back we went. Mosquitos, the size of helicopters, had been biting me through my travel trousers, on my bottom! Great, now I walk around all day scratching my backside!
Then next morning I was back on the jetty, for another attempt to see a spectacular sunrise on the foreshore. This time it was Sarmento with the four Chinese people. He asked if I wanted to join them for a river sunrise. I believe whole heartedly that one should never, ever say NO to unexpected offers. So of I went, on the boat, waiting for a new day to begin. The Chinese man played one video over and over, the sound effects getting on my nerves. A beautiful quiet morning, constant chatter of the two Chinese girls, the video making its intrusive noises, while birds flew over our heads, starting their new day with a spot of morning fishing!
The next day we visited a native house! We knew this as the sign on the wall said so! We had a look around, didn’t buy anything, walked through the garden and returned to camp! Another great day!!
The sunrise was beautiful, it all happened very fast, one minute waiting and waiting and suddenly the new day has arrived.We walked amongst butterflies to the dinning area. One huge blue one, like we have in Queensland. After breakfast, it was time to pack, a morning boat trip and getting ready to return to Manaus. The trip back was so much faster then the getting here. David and Jennifer, from Barcelona, had to get to the airport, but not until much later that night. We agreed to meet each other in my new hotel’s lobby. Ah, a hot shower, change of clothing, and I felt like a new woman. Tomorrow I am catching the slow boat to Santarem. Another adventure awaits.