Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Getting the Boat to the Amazon--Day 1--May 8th

I stopped for a big self-service lunch at do Campos which was a nearby LP recommended restaurant and I was not disappointed. I had a great salad that included romaine, watercress, spinach, shredded beets and carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Some of the entrées included: steak, prime rib, shrimp in a cream sauce over mixed rice, sea bass smothered in garlic, mushrooms, and scallions, pork, and chicken. There were also ample portions of mixed vegetables. Looking back, I am glad I ate so much because I could not figure out how to handle the dinner on the boat.

I left the restaurant about 2:30 PM and caught a cab to the boat. The driver had to stop three times for directions. We finally got there to find it gated and to pass through I had to give the guard my Passport and boat voucher. The driver left with a 20 BR payment while I waited for the guard to hand me back my passport and vouchers.

I then got my first look at the Nelio Carrea, my home for the next five days. They were busy loading it with bundles, bales, and boxes of all sorts of goods destined for up river. There were about 20 guys loading and securing the cargo.

Our departure was scheduled for 6 PM, but we did not weigh anchor until 11:30 PM. It was fascinating to watch them load the stuff. They loaded two semi trucks carrying boxes of mostly green tomatoes, huge bundles of clothing, heavy bags of rice, flour and cement, boxes of paper, booze and beer, a couple of motorcycles---the loading just kept going on even through a heavy downpour that started after dark. The men just wore shorts and sometimes flip flops and sometimes shirts.

When I checked in, the purser introduced me to my bunk mate "EC" and showed me to my room which ended up being Camarote 4 instead of 3. I got the bottom bunk in this tiny but adequate cabin. It had an outlet so I could recharge my electronics, and a shoilet--a combination shower and toilet with a wash basin. I think this is river water because it is brown.

On the top and second decks the passengers were setting up their hammocks for the journey ahead and I am so glad that I got a cabin instead. Most people are avoiding the top deck because that is where the bar is where the music and TV are blaring and people mingle until late in the night. My cabin is below on the second deck on the starboard side.

I kept thinking that they would finish loading any time after 7 PM, when they were done with the two semis loaded with tomatoes, but the forklift just kept coming with more pallets loaded with cargo that all had to be hand loaded. I finally got into my PJs and bed about 10:30 and read until I heard the engine noise increase.

I went out to see our departure. it was now 11:30, about 51/2 hours past the scheduled departure, when I then returned to my cabin and turned out the lights. My bed was very comfortable but it did not have a top sheet, and thankfully the A/C seemed to be working. I used my long sleeve shirt as a top sheet and that kept me comfortable through the night.

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