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Sunday, 22 January 2012

Alter De Chao

A new day and a new place to explore.  Each town we have visited has been so different from the last, and we could see from the ship, anchored in the middle of the river, that Alter de Chao is going to somewhere completely different again.
It is called the Caribbean of the Amazon, and we could see the white sand beaches, and the thatched roofs of the craft stalls and bars.  The little town actually lies on the shore of the river Tapiojas, at a point where a sandbank known as the “Love Island” separates the river and the Lago Verde (Green Lagoon). The sun was out and weather was warm, so we donned our swimsuits and went to have a look.
Alter de Chao is where the Brazilians go when they want a day at the seaside.  It really is lovely.   Full of craft shops and stalls, bars on the beach, with tables and parasols right on the riverside, where, unlike a lot of places where you have to hire the lounger or buy a beer, anyone could sit without obligation to pay for anything.
We took some time so that I could explore the shops and Peter could film our surroundings. 
The crafts there were extensive and quite wonderful, and naturally took me a long time to investigate.  (Peter is very patient).  We spotted a couple of beautiful, brightly coloured birds:  an Oriole Blackbird, which is actually yellow,  a kiskudee (not sure how it's spelt and a Red Crested Cardinal.  We found free wi-fi, and spent a lot of time updating blogs and catching up on email.  The chips were expensive, but the beer was cheap, and the cafe provided good cover from a downpour just after lunch.  We bought a couple of items from the craft shops and then took a wander across the beach to the river. 
Now it was time for a swim.  We’d seen all the locals splashing about enjoying the water, so we had to try.  We picked exactly the right time to be honest, because at that moment the sun came out and started burning down on us, but the water was lovely and cool.   Apparently the water here is the clearest of the all rivers running into the Amazon.  What that actually means is that you can see through the first 12 inches or so, and it’s a dark peaty green colour generally.  The Amazon river itself looks like milky tea and opaque.
We sat on the beach for 30 minutes to dry off,  supposedly in the shade, but as usual, I managed to burn a little more, and then we took the tender back to the ship.  We’d had a wonderful day, and not had the chance to see everything  there, apparently Fordland,  (the remnants of Henry Ford’s project to create rubber plantations) is nearby, there were tours around the lagoon on offer, and I am sure plenty of guided walks into the jungle.  I kept saying, if anyone was to have a holiday in the Brazilian Amazon, here would be the place to stay. 
So tomorrow we have Parintins, and the Boi Bumba show.  I am looking foward to it.

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