Sunday, July 7, 2013

Peru-Brazil 2013 – Day 19 – The fast boat to Manaus

We woke early, packed, had breakfast, and took a very rickety taxi to the port in Tabatinga. There we presented our documents, had our luggage thoroughly inspected by the Federal Police (we are not quite sure what they are looking for, but on two later occasions the Federal Police conducted a similar inspection, with plenty of show of force), and finally boarded the  the Federal Police conducted a similar inspection, with plenty of show of force), and finally boarded the Crystal I. It is all we could ask for. It has a wide boat with three airplane-like seats on each side, and a broad corridor in between. The best of all is that the run is practically empty, so both Annie and myself had a row for each of us, where we expect to lounge and sleep comfortably at night. (Later, at different ports of call, new people came in, and in the wee hours of the morning I had to give up my kingdom and go bunk with my Honey.)

We are flying down the Amazon, and it is easy to get distracted by the TV and not see the landscape as it unfolds past us. The best place to see the world going by is the aft platform, where you are out in the open, enjoying the fresh air and the roar of the engines.

The river is very much in flood down here, so sightings of the shore are rare and far between, where the river has undermined reddish cliffs on small hills. The red are lateritic soils typical of the rainforest. For the most part, however, all you see is the flooded shore, with tree tops coming out of the water. Now and then you sight a community of houses on stilts, with people moving around in canoes. We have stopped a number of times in “ports of call” that range from a few huts spilling off the bank, to old, elegant, and rundown waterfronts, probably going back to the years where rubber was the gold of the Amazon (late 1800’s and early 1920’s).
Food is included in the price of 430 reais per person (about US$ 215), served at your seat by the numerous members of the crew. They also have a small store, where Annie got us a big bag of popcorn for Happy Hour. It has been a painless trip, with plenty of time for reading, listening to my Portuguese lessons, watching TV, and being basically lazy. Morale is high!

No comments: