Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Brasilian Amazon, part 3: The Passengers

The boat would stop along the way to drop off people and cargo. Sometimes we would stop in large towns, sometimes in small villages, and sometimes, as shown below, we would stop in a place with no more than one or two houses. Upon our arrival, the old woman pictured below ran outside, grabbed a broom and started frantically sweeping the dirt path. She then looked up with (mock)embarrassment and called out to the passengers on the boat that had she known we were coming she would have cleaned up. She then ran to a papaya tree, shook it a few times, gathered up an armful and started hurling them to grateful passengers.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Brasilian Amazon, part 2: Cargo and Ports


some of the varied cargo

deliveries would happen day or night

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

6 days up the Brasilian Amazon, part 1: Boat Life

Saying goodbye to Edison in front of his house in Manaus before going to the port.

Leaving Manaus (not our boats)

Navy safety inspection

The Bridge

Giant pots to feed the 250+ passengers (food is included with the price of passage).

A typical riverboat lunch or dinner: rice, spaghetti, beans (or some kind of meat stew on Laura's unlucky days) and a hard, ground-up root that they like to put on everything in this region). Breakfast was usually hot milk or coffee mixed with milk and a couple of bread rolls (though on the last two days they had run out of bread, and all they had to soak up the milk was crackers...with butter).

The food was nowhere near as bad as people had warned us it would be, but we still brought along supplemental food like fruit and "nescau" to mix with the hot milk. We (mostly Laura) also ate these delicious chocolates that Josh gave Laura for Valentine's Day, which was our second day on the boat.

Most of the passenger tickets sold on these boats are for hammock class, so the boat is jam-packed with hammocks, front to back, as well as kids sleeping on the deck under their parents' hammocks.

The price of a cabin wasn't much more than two hammock spaces, so we decided it was worth it for the added security. If sleeping in a hammock you have to watch your bag at all times, but especially carefully when the boat is in port, because people will board the boat looking for things to steal. Though we had planned to get a cabin strictly for the security of our bags, and weren't really expecting much, it turned out to be quite luxurious in its own way. It had a private bathroom, complete with water pumped straight out of (and back into) the very brown and murky river, and an air conditioner that sort of worked some of the time. The luxury ended after about three days when Josh remarked that it smelled like death in the room. A few hours later a poor crew member removed the panels on the ceiling, and tossed a dead rat overboard. Unfortunately the smell never exactly went away (and things smell pretty bad in humid, 35 degree weather).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Update from Ecuador

Hello, just a quick note to let you know that we arrived safely in Coca, Ecuador. We ended up taking a lancha (a slow cargo boat which also transports passengers and livestock) because we did not have any luck persuading anyone to travel with us by peque-peque boat. The lancha was nice but now we are even more inspired to return to the Amazon tributaries in our own boat some day. We will try to post some more photos of our trip up the Amazon soon.

Hope you are all well,

Josh and Laura

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

CIGS, The Military Zoo

This zoo houses animals which were mistreated and illegally held in captivity.

After being attacked by this Jaguar phone booth the soldiers came and took it away. As they did so the parrots and monkeys went crazy sounding their alarm calls.