Our boat, the Nelio Correa - home for 5 nights on the Amazon. Our cabins were on the other side, middle deck at the front.
Not a very active day, today. Did some internet this morning, went to a local store to get some supplies for the boat trip and then just waited around the hotel after lunch until our taxi to the port. As the food on board can be fairly monotonous, we were advised to buy snacks, drinks etc., to take with us - by the time everyone had stocked up, we could have opened a store of our own! By the time we arrived at the port at 6pm, the boat was already crowded with hammocks and cargo - people hanging from every available solid beam. The main hammock area is right between the showers and toilets, can´t imagine that it will be a pleasant place to be after a day or two. The boat looks like it will be full, there is no spare hammock space - it appears much more crowded than photos we´ve seen from friends who´ve done the trip.
Our cabin - bit of a tight squeeze for two burly Aussies.
We all have private cabins - a bunk bed, with an attached toilet, basin and shower all in one. No room to swing a mouse, let alone a monkey, so will be a very cosy few days. Dinner tonight wasn´t too bad, much better than expected. Had a sort of meat/vegie/pasta stew, quite edible! Sat outside our cabins for a few hours this evening, watching the sunset and enjoying a rum and coke (from our personal stores!). Chairs are at a premium, so we have to make sure someone is always sitting on the few we´ve collected to make sure they don´t disappear.
First full day on the river, and not too bad. Food was quite good again today - not all beans and rice - but suspect it will probably become fairly monotonous quite soon. The boat seems to meander all over the river - sometimes close to the bank, at other times in the middle of a wide expanse of water.
Hammock city - it actually got more crowded that this as we travelled along the river, plus there is a top deck as well!
Passed lots of small river huts from which kids would furiously paddle out in their wooden canoes and shout for presents - people would then throw items into the water for them, tied up in plastic bags to keep them dry. Every now and then, a river vendor would steer his canoe up to our boat, attach himself to the side with a hook to our ropes, and then sell whatever he had (generally snack food like fruit or small cakes). Looked like a dangerous way to earn a living. Spent the day watching the scenery, reading, learning how to do Sudoku (think HJ may have created a monster in Melissa, she is really getting into the Sudoku!) and snoozing. Have unanimously decided that 5pm is rum and coke time!
More of the same today - think this trip may drag a bit from now on.
Snack vendor attached to the side of our boat before departure.
Stopped a couple of times, the last one for 4 hours at the small port of Monte Alegre where we watched tonnes of soap being unloaded. One small guy balanced himself on a plank going from the boat to the dock, passing the soap boxes up to the others above his head. He must have been incredibly fit, because he kept at it for hours with barely a break. Today was stinking hot and humid with absolutely no breeze to cool us down - kept having showers but within seconds we were sticky again so not much point really. Saw a load of dolphins today, and at times the river became extremely wide - could barely see the banks. Like last night, we watched some very impressive lightning storms this evening. Some of the children on board have befriended us - two little sisters (Vittoria and Alice) are on board with their parents and some of their 10 brothers and sisters.
Another ship in the night, Amazon River. Setting out on our first night from Belem.
They tried to tell us all the family names, and we couldn´t help laughing when they had to start using their fingers to count off, and even they forgot a few!
Very hot again today, the cabins nominally have air-conditioning but it just can´t cope with the heat, although it is markedly better than outside. Stopped in Santarem
for 7 hours to unload more soap (!) and bring on crates of mangoes. Don´t think the supplies got to the kitchen, because had meat/vegie/pasta stew again today! Two of our group, Adrian and Dimitry, left the boat today to fly off to other places. We´ll catch up with Adrian in Manaus
and Dimitry in Venezuela.
A typical fishing home, Amazon River.
When our guide, Jose, took the boys off to the airport, he bought a Sudoku book for Melissa, so that will keep her occupied for the next couple of days. Saw a few more dolphins today and considerably more boat traffic this evening than previously. Our group of kids has grown - some of them are real characters. Our part of the deck is turning into a kindergarten - their dad came around at one point and said if they were annoying us too much we could throw them overboard! There´s a little 7 year old who reminds us a lot of our niece Sarah - a cheeky little monkey!
And more of the same again! The scenery hasn´t really changed, the food hasn´t changed at all and the novelty of being on a boat has definitely worn off! The kids hung around all day today - got a bit tiring for us, but their parents loved it! The cheeky 7yo, Manuela, gave everybody a hair-do, and even Jose got his plaited - very stylish.
Kids selling apples as we moved along the river - brave little guys!
Only one more night and we´re in Manaus. Melissa is not going too well on the Sudoku - this book is really hard, although the experts in the group (Scott and HJ) seem to be able to just look at them and know what goes where. We´ll keep at it, though.
LAST DAY ON THE BOAT!!!! Got up quite late, then had a siesta after breakfast - not much else to do, and extremly hot and still again. Did some Sudoku, packed our bags and generally sat around for the day. Got into Manaus around 7pm and after getting a mini-van to the hotel (a Herbie Truck, as our niece would call it ie: a VW combi van), we went to the revolving restaurant on top of the Hotel Taj Mahal for dinner. Got a great view of the city, and in particular the Opera House all lit up, and had some real food - an absolute delight after 5 days of rice and pasta.
An Amazon local collecting gifts thrown from the boat.
When we got off the boat, the kids all came and kissed us goodbye - Scott in particular seemed to have rather a large fan club, not sure how he managed that! Realized tonight that Melissa has lost her blue, blow-up neck pillow - must have left it in the hotel in Belem
. Very sad, because it survived the whole trip and only disappeared in the last couple of weeks. Will get a new one in the next Kathmandu sale!