Friday, May 11, 2012

Cruising the Amazon-- Day 4--May 11th

I woke up at 3 AM because the engine had stopped so we must be at our 4th stop at Prainha which was scheduled to be 9 hrs after our last stop so we have dropped back another hour from the schedule.
The Amazon continues to be wide here, maybe two miles in some parts with another mile of wetlands on either side of the river as well. The water is very high and it looks like some of the homes have been abandoned to the higher waters. One of the crew members said that some of the people living along here have two homes, one for high water and the other for low water seasons.
The endless domino games started up again this morning about 7:30, and the river rolls on.
I finished reading the Hunger Games Trilogy and am now on to A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism, which takes place during the vote and transition to the Evo Morales administration in Bolivia 2005-6. I find it interesting because I was there during the height of the Revolt in 2005 when President Mesa resigned and fled the country and was replaced by an interim President Rodriguez, the Supreme Court Justice.
We reached Monte Alegre, a small town that shows how high the Amazon River is right now because the street fronting the water front is flooded by about a foot to two feet of water. To get the cargo off the boat they had to erect an elevated wooden walkway.

We were told our stop here would be about a half hour, so I headed up to land to locate an Internet place with no luck. I wanted to let my hostel I would be two days later than I booked and to let Tani, my wife, know that I would get to Manaus two days later.
I noticed a yellow Escolar boat was just letting off some students so I engaged them for a bit with my iPad. they really hamed it up for the camera. I gave them my business card so they could go to my website to see pictures of themselves after my return or to email me for the pictures. Robson said that none of the children had an email address though.
Our half hour stop turned into two hours. Part of the delay was caused by a Peruvian who missed the boat and ran down the shoreline yelling until our boat pulled over to another dock where he jumped aboard. while waiting, I relaxed in Robson's hammock.

In the afternoon a huge thunder cloud ran up behind us and the boat crew had to lash down the side tarps to keep the decks free of the rain and water from the torrential downpour. The temperature dropped considerably while the winds rattled the blue tarps and the skies became dark except for occasional bursts of lightening and thunder.
I was looking forward to our next stop in Santarem because that is where latte brown Amazon mixes with the darker Rio Tapajpos after running among the waterfront in two distinct bands of colored water. but that was not to be since we did not pull in there until 8 PM. Our two hour stop to unload cargo ended up being a 6 hour stop.

I walked into town with Robson who was stopping here to do a tour into the jungle before flying to Manaus for more jungle adventures.
Downtown along the waterfront were the Friday night crowd of couples, gaggles of boys checking out the gaggles of girls, guys with their cars with huge speakers blasting out a cacophony of music, I guess to lure the girls.

There were lots of food and beverage vendors with their plastic chairs and tables offering TVs showing soap operas to MTV type music videos to entice their viewers to sit for a spell and have some food or beverage.
I was getting some WiFi coverage so I stopped at the Restaurante O Mascotinho to have a beer and a cheeseburger with a fried egg while I tried to send my two messages. The wifi speed was pathetic and the iPad mail system just could not send my two messages so I ended up going to the gmail website and I sent the two messages from there.

It took about an hour to send the messages and during that time I enjoyed the singer with guitar who was entertaining the outdoor restaurant crowds. they must have liked his singing for they gave him some resounding applause.

After about two hours, I returned to the boat where they were still unloading the cargo--less than frozen chicken, tomatoes, blocks of cheese, flour, and other cargo. it looked painfully slow.
it was a good thing I returned when I did because within the hour we got another torrential downpour which probably cut short the locals Friday night mating rituals. My bunk mate, EC, was not so lucky for he shortly showed up thoroughly drenched.

I wanted to stay up until the boat left the harbor, but by 11:30, they were still loading in the downpour. I woke up briefly at 2AM when I heard the engine power up and felt the gentle sway of the boat as it was now free of its moorings.

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