Thursday, August 29, 2013

Where the Waters Meet - Manaus, Brazil 2

Day 2  in Brazil
The Eco Lodge reminds me of the lodge we stayed at in Taman Negara, Malaysia – it is on the river shore and is thick with tropical plants. Unlike the Taman Negara however he have not seen exotic animals in the premises. (In Malaysia we had seen wild tapirs and an angry wild elephant in the lodge area. The angry elephant incident has lapsed into lore since nothing bad actually happened, but one night, coming back to our cottages, we ran into an irate elephant who was uprooting palms trees and bushes; staff people gathered a group of us and hid us in a building. Peering out a window, we saw this pissed-off elephant having a rampage.)

Yesterday, we took a boat ride to the monkey island, a refuge for rescue monkeys. We saw some wooly monkeys with their babies, and a solitary red monkey who does not exactly belong to the group but is tolerated as long as she stays in the periphery. Monkeys always amuse me since I grew up with monkeys; we used to have one chained on a bamboo pole, and later, we had around ten of them running around freely in our huge yard; they used to fight the dogs – but that’s another story.)

In the evening we went on another boat ride to find a caiman, which looks like an alligator. We trolled around the river, with one of our boat men flashing a huge light onto the water. He eventually found a baby caiman, just one-year old, in shallow water, and our guide Marjit held it in her hands and gave a long talk about caimans. We got to take pictures of the terrified animal, and even had pictures taken with it. I was not crazy about the idea and thought only of how scared the baby caiman was. It was eventually released and hopefully no damage done to it except for the psychological. (It will never be caught again – ever, because their memories are excellent. Marjit said a caiman is very patient and will visit and revisit areas where say human beings are before actually attacking. Consequently, if the indigenous people see it once, they will kill it before it returns to kill one of them.)

Today, Marjita gave a brief talk on a particular fruit with clusters of red seeds, which is used for red dye; it apparently cures diabetes as well. And we stopped by an ant mound attached to a tree; the ants are very aggressive; if crushed and rubbed on your body, they give off an odor that frightens other bugs.

In the evening there is little to do as the cottages have no TV, radio, nor wifi. Lauren has his kindle and I have my writing notebook, my laptop, and books to read. Wifi connection is sporadic here in the Amazon jungle and is sometimes available only in the restaurant area.

There are around 15 guests, including Brazilians, Germans, English, Ethiopians. Everyone tends to be quiet and private and there is little social interaction in the restaurant or bar/lobby. It is thankfully not hot nor too humid in this jungle; Malaysia was a more intense jungle experience.

Day 3 in Brazil: The highlight of our day is the boat cruise to the "Meeting of the waters"  - specifically, it is where the Rio Negro collides with the Amazon (or this portion is still callled Rio Selimoes) - see map above.  The Rio Negro originates from Colombia and it is very acidic from leaves with tannin.  The result is that it does not mix readily with the less acidic Amazon, and one can see where the two collide.

This is where we went on a boat cruise. It was our last day in Manaus and we had to go to the airport that afternoon.  While on the boat, it started to rain, and when the motorboat picked us up to get us to a van and on to the airport, the weather got pretty bad.  The river became very choppy.  The boatman was unprepared for the rain (I think) and when we got on that motorboat, and as he sped along, the waves washed in and drenched us and our suitcases.

Never mind, we survived, and we also survived a harrowing landing in Salvador when the pilot had to abort the first landing because of a very wet runway.  A number of women pulled out their rosaries to pray, as I did, and thankfully, we did land safely.

To those who have emailed me, internet was not always available in Manaus and is terribly slow in Salvador where we are. Thank you and I'll get back to you when the internet is faster. And, dear Readers, be patient with me if I have mistakes, grammatical errors, etc. internet is slow and I can't take too much time editing, etc. 

The top picture shows us wet in that motorboat to catch our flight to Salvador. There are pictures taken at the monkey island, our visit to an indigenous village, Manaus from the river, the meeting of the waters, our cottage, Lauro the resident macaw at the Lodge, and one in which I'm trying out a hammock. There is also a picture of an indigenous Amazonian working with manac, and another with rubber. (The wealthy rubber barons of the early 1900s became bankrupt when England stole rubber tree seeds and started rubber plantations in Malaysia.)

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All for now,

tags: Brazil, Manaus, Amazon, travel, holiday, tourism, Rio Negro, Rio Selimoes, Meeting of Waters

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