Last week, in Brazil Part 1, I left you off at the epic cliffhanger of finally, after a plane ride, a boat ride, and then a kinda long actually overland journey, arriving at our riverboat home for the next week or so. It was a pretty neat boat! Here is a more holistic picture of it:
This was a pretty typical boat style in the Amazon. Throughout our week of cruising around, we would pass a number of other boats that were very much like ours, except with different cabin configurations and the like. I would have liked to have figured out where they were building them, and I spent a good chunk of time fantasizing about buying one in retirement and just cruising around the Amazon (provided it’s still there). When we eventually got back to Manaus, it was clear that there were tons and tons of these types of boats:
What I was delighted to learn when we actually arrived is that we had come to the Amazon at more or less the perfect time, at just the tail end of the rainy season and beginning of the dry season. I was stunned to discover just how significantly the river flooded during the rainy season, with the water level being maybe 20 feet or more higher than where it is during the dry season. That meant that our river boat could go all over the place, cruising through wide river channels that in the dry season would be tiny little streams at the bottom of narrow valleys. At night, we would tie up to the very tippy-tops of trees just barely sticking out of the water. Since it was the end of the rainy season, the weather was mostly absolutely gorgeous, with nice breezes keeping us cool as we cruised through some of the world’s densest biodiversity. We did get a few rain showers, but safely ensconced on the boat those were fairly pleasant affairs:
As you’ve probably caught glimpses of, and of which you shall catch more glimpses, don’t you worry, along on the trip with us were three German women. They were very pleasant company to have on the trip, though I remember being very disappointed that they weren’t more impressed with my super cool Actual Naval Officer status due to my being a newly-minted Ensign (“And what do you do?” “Oh, I’m an Ensign.” [here I showed off my Naval Academy ring] “And… what is an Ensign?”). They were backpacking around South America I think, on a very impressive trip, and had opted to “rough” it by sleeping at night in the upper deck in hammocks. That was the option I was initially going to sign dad and myself up for, but at the last minute back in Maryland, unsure of exactly what I was willing and able to put up with in the world, I opted to get us a cabin. This is that cabin:
I took this picture towards the end of the week, and the cabin at this point bears witness to the debris of our many adventures. Since I had paid for the trip, I claimed the bottom, larger bed, relegating dad to the top bunk. The biggest drawback of the cabin, despite it being advertised as its best feature, was actually the air conditioner. This is probably because we had no real idea how to actually operate the thing. When it was running, it was VERY effective, and rendered the cabin freezing cold. We actually asked our hosts for a blanket (there had only been a sheet), a request to which they responded by looking at us confused and then bringing us an additional sheet. Horrible problems to have, I know.
One of the things I remember most fondly about this whole trip was the food. I promise, I have never had so much good food and so consistently as I did aboard that tiny little boat in the Amazon. The cook I remember as being a tiny, old, wrinkly, hobbled indigenous woman, and I swear I contemplated marrying her so I could bring her home to the states with me. Above is a typical breakfast spread, with fresh fruit and fried eggs and local cheese and stunningly good coffee and my absolute favorite, fried plantains. I would eat plantains every chance I got until I was ready burst. Lunches and dinners were also stunning, usually featuring fish just plucked out of the river, along with sausages and rice and of course more fresh fruit and toasted manioc powder to sprinkle over everything. To this day the best chicken I have ever had is a free-range one that our guide had purchased from a riverside homestead that morning and then cooked on a stick over an open fire in the jungle that night.
But that’s just the boat and the lifestyle. Next week, we’ll discuss…. adventures!