I am again sitting on the boat. Only now I am not in Indonesia but on the other side of the world and is one and half year later. I never thought I will be by this time still on the way and here we go. “Loco Checo” is still moving on… Now I am in Brazil, country where I didn’t plan to go at all. One of the reasons was its size (Brazil is as big as Europe without Russian part) and second reason was that I never was really interested to see Brazil except one part – The Amazon. Now, when I am sitting on the boat which goes thought Amazon rain forest and I am thinking about last two months, I must admit, that I am glad I decided to come here and made this amazon river boat trip true.. Even thou have to admit that at the beginning I didn’t enjoy my time in Brazil at all. Partly it was because suddenly after long time I didn’t really understand people what they are saying and partly that first time on my trip I got really sick (diarrhoea doesn’t count). I felt quite lost here and people didn’t seem to me so friendly like in rest of Latin America. Now I know that I just needed to find my way to the culture and its people. Either way I like more north than South of Brazil because there you still really feel like in South America.
I started my way on Amazon river in Belem. The city at Amazon river delta where enter Atlantic ocean. Before I got here I read quiet lot about travelling on the boats in this area so I had an idea what to expect but the real experience is different story. We came to the boat shortly before scheduled departure and immediately you can feel that here time has different meaning. Half of the boat was already packed with people lying in hammocks defending their space and waiting for the departure. Rest of passengers were waiting when loading all kind of goods is finished that than they can start to fight for their place. Finally we are leaving with two hours delay and immediately how the boat moved upper deck changed in to open party bar with laud Brazilian music. Good fun may be first day. Later on you start kind of hate it (music plays every day from 6 am till at least midnight). During the ride people are occupied by every day same schedule. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Time between food is used for sleeping, drinking beer or chatting with neighbours.
On the boat I really enjoyed opportunity to see at least a bit how people live beside the river. People live here mostly in isolated houses whose kids only entertainment are passing by boats which they start to follow after spotting. With one hand paddling and second waving to boat direction are trying to get some donation of used dresses from the boat passengers. They do so by throwing full plastic bags in to the river when we pass by. From time to time boat slow down for letting people from passing villages transfer their goods or even passengers from boat to boat. Sometimes enters boat local vendors for hour or so to sell their goods. With first excitement to see everything what is happening around I end up sleeping most of the time in hammock like everybody else. I have to admit that it is great way how to learn be patient and let time pass by.
More interesting during cruise was when boat took short cuts and sail side canals of Amazon River. It is time when you are closer to shore and where more people live. On the other hand sailing on main river give you better idea why is this river biggest in the world. Close to river delta are parts where you basically don’t see shore on the other side. You feel here like on the sea. For me it was something I could not imagine as it is still “only” river… When you continue more against river stream than first changes of river size can be really seen after Manaus where two biggest side rivers join Amazon. In same time river starts more turning and seems to me Amazon rain forest is more wild and untouched.
How time has different meaning here I had chance to experience later on when I took boat from Manaus to Colombian border. I entered boat which had broken engine and therefore we were constantly waiting for other boats which could push us further or fixing the engine. Of course nobody tells you any information when we leave or when we reach final destination. If you start to ask they tell you some time (to keep you calm) which is not relevant anyway. Obviously all locals have already this experience as nobody bother even to ask. Simply wait and take a rest. One day you will reach your destination …
When I entered first boat I was curious how the rain forest looks in reality. I have read that every second is chopped down 1,5 ha of rain forest! Incredible number or better say most sad number I ever heard. On the way you can see lot of parts without any trees as far as you can see what I highly doubt is natural, but still it doesn’t seems so bad in other parts. Even thou to visit primary rain forest is not so easy. For that you need to travel quite far from civilisation. What was bit shocking for me (or maybe I am too naive) that even here money are more important than anything else. Because this part of Brazil has special regulations to promote new companies move their production lines over here. Therefore you can see (mostly in Manaus – biggest city in Amazon) plenty factories of different multinational companies in bigger cities. I only hope that one day when I will have my own kids they will have still chance to come here and see rain forest on their own eyes not only from my pictures and stories …
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