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Sunday, 13 February 2011

Day fourteen, Saturday 12th February – Santarem

It’s been a wonderful, busy day.  Really hot and I have taken so many photographs, I can’t choose which ones to put on the blog.  You’ll have to make do with what I manage to get on. 
We were up on deck almost as soon as we woke up.  We wanted to get our first sight of Santarem,  watch the ship dock, and (in my case especially), check out the moths that landed on the ship last night. 
My first impression of Santarem was that it was sprawled out alongside the river.  Not much in the way of high rise buildings.
The ship didn’t do too well at the docking thing either. It tried once, but the gangway on that side of the ship didn’t fit, so the ship had to sail away from the pier, turn round to face the other way, and try again.  The second attempt worked but it meant everything (tours and stuff) was running a little late.

Peter filmed all this docking malarkey while I wandered the decks taking pictures of the latest wildlife to attach itself.  It’s brilliant really, they all pose so well.  We wouldn’t even see these moths if they were in the forest, but on the ship they just smile and let hundreds of people take photos of them.  
Pics are of the small, normal size moths

Once the ship and passengers had clearance, and the queue died down, we sunscreened up and disembarked. I needed and decent hat, and hey presto, the first stall we came across 30 secs out of the port gates was selling them for $5 (£3.75).  I didn’t even haggle. 
Then we walked for at least 2 miles, maybe three.  Santarem is not a modern city.  It’s roads are poor, the paths are dangerous if you don’t watch where you are going, the drainage smelt bad and  most of the buildings were run down and unkempt.  But we loved it.
We visited the fish market first.  It’s built on stilts over the river, and at the back, a boy was using fish as bait to attract the famous Amazon pink dolphins.  They were fascinating, and both Peter and I filmed them for several minutes.
We carried on walking, along the riverside in the baking heat.  We saw vultures, big white birds we think are egrets, some big lizards eating carrion, yellow butterflies, massive dragonflies and a yellow and black bird that needs Moss to identify it, amongst other things. We got to the market and the main shopping street in Santarem.  To be honest, there was very little there to interest us, but we can tell you the Amazon Brazilians like hammocks, colourful clothes, shoes, football, and buying in bulk.  We checked out the local cathedral, which is bright blue on the outside, sparsely decorated inside and actually quite small. 

We carried on walking to a point where we could see the “meeting of the waters”.  This is a section of the river where another one joins it, but, the waters are different colours.  If I remember this right the Tapojas river is relatively clear in comparison to the muddy waters of the Amazon.  The two rivers run side by side, the water does not mix, for several miles. You can see the two types of water, side by side in the same river.  This happens several times on the Amazon.
The little park provided by the Santarem local authorities to look over the river and see this “non-mixing” was lovely:-  Benches, trees for shade and a little tower to go higher up in and see the river.  Not only that, free wi-fi!  And if that was not enough, there were power sockets all over the place for you to plug your laptop in.  Not necessarily safe, since these sockets were exposed, and the Amazon is noted for its rainfall, but the lad on the bench next door was quite happily working away plugged into one of them.
While we were here, we saw more birds and another iguana type thing clambered about in the tree above our heads.  We stayed for maybe an hour, taking advantage of the wi-fi, before setting off back to the ship.  Again, we walked for a good mile, before we got a lift, which we were beginning to need, because it was really, really hot.
Back at the ship we managed to get a sandwich (cos we’d not had lunch) before going out on deck. By now it’s about 4.45, and not worth us walking back into town again, so we watched the numerous boats go by, took loads more photo’s of birds, the river and Santarem, and chatted to other passengers until the ship until the captain announced it was time to leave. 
Dinner, a show, (the comedian) and back to the cabin to type this up.  We are worn out.   Tomorrow is an early start for Boca De Valeria.  I am really looking forward to it. 

Santarem, Brazil 2012
Santarem, Brazil 2103
Santarem, Brazil 2014

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