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).

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