All about the fabulous cruises that I get to go on with my husband Peter.
We're just about to go on our next cruise, to the Amazon, West Indies and the Caribbean, on the good ship Magellan. We've been before, and I absolutely love all the creepy crawlies, birds and wildlife. Watch this space!
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Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Day seventeen, Tuesday 15th February, Manaus
Jungle trekking tour today. Yippee. Just so you know, today it got to 32 degrees C. It’s been really hot and humid throughout.
We got up and breakfasted quite early, so as to be ready at 8.30 as per jungle trekking ticket instructions. I was looking forward to this one. I know that we are not expecting to see much, because as was explained during one of the guest lectures, the birds and animals live up high in the trees, don’t make any noise, and can hear a noisy, gossipy load of old tourists from miles away. But I was excited anyway.
The tour started with a boat ride up the Black River or Il Negro to one of the hundreds of islands in the middle of it. We’ve been learning a lot about these rivers whilst we’ve been here. Today’s guide explained that because the Black River is more acidic than the Amazon, there is less flora and fauna, including mosquito’s.
Once on the island, our guides were joined by local experts of the jungle, (i.e. guys who know how to live in it without the help of wi-fi, loo roll, matches and insect repellent), and we were taken on a trail through the jungle. It wasn’t a long walk, we paused every hundred yards or so for an explanation by the expert and translation by the guide. We learnt about different vines, grass that can leave really sharp cuts, big 1 metre long worms, medicinal plants, and flowers. We saw another gigantic moth (as per picture). Hunting techniques were explained (like disturbing a load of ants so that they spray formic acid at you, that way you smell of formic acid, not of human), traps were demonstrated, and survival techniques were shown. Did you know that you can use two AA batteries and a brillo pad to start a fire? Sadly, the tarantula that they tried to persuade to come out of its hole to say hello decided it had had enough of tourists and being poked with a stick, and remained firmly hidden. (Another group saw it and showed us the pictures. It was HUGE!)
Once the walk was finished, we rested in a restaurant area where we were treated to cold cans and the Amazonian alcoholic drink made with sugar cane and lime, called something like assaye.It’s about 35% proof and is like drinking neat vodka.Knock out!Peter managed to get some film of a caiman in the pond nearby.Bonus!After that we were taken on the river boat back to the Boudicca and arrived in time for lunch.
It was all very interesting, but I suppose, for us, the real attraction was the fact that we were actually walking in the Amazon rainforest. We sort of wished the women ahead of us would shut up, and we could just walk in the quiet, listening to the insects and the odd bird call. We could have watched for birds and maybe monkeys, and walked for a lot further than we actually did. We wouldn’t have missed it tho, cos we can now say we’ve done it. We wouldn’t do it again for the money tho (£50 each).
After lunch, we went to have a look at the city. Manaus used to be very rich because the only place you could get rubber was from the Amazon rainforest, and obviously Manaus was the main trading city for the stuff. The wealth of the place was astounding, they paid for buildings to be shipped over from all over Europe, to be rebuilt, brick by brick, in Manaus. The Opera House is the finest and most lavish example of this, apparently well worth a visit because of the sheer opulence, quality and cost of the furnishings that were shipped over. The dock we were tied to was also imported, from England I think. It’s unusual because it is a floating dock that rises and falls with the annual flooding of the Amazon.
Then some Englishman had the bright idea of sending the rubber plant seeds abroad and Brazil lost its monopoly on rubber and became poor again. And what you see as a result is ugly modern buildings next to ramshackle run down looking huts and warehouses next to beautiful old buildings
During our city jaunt we first went to see the Opera House, we didn’t make it in time to fit in a tour because we had to get back to the ship, so we had to settle for a few pictures of the outside. We then took a wander in the area just outside the port.
The city is absolutely teeming with people. Like Santarem, the roads and paths are in poor state of repair, with plenty of rubbish to decorate. The city centre is full of shops, and the paths are absolutely crammed with market stalls. We had a look at the cathedral and sat in the grounds for a few minutes people watching. An amazing place, but I don’t think I would want to live here.