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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Boca Do Valeria

Before I go on to talking about the village, I just have to mention that in the morning, as we were travelling down river towards our next destination, I managed to see three toucans on the riverside.  Very pleased with myself.

Boca Do Valeria is supposed to represent a true village on the Amazon. I think it probably does, in as much as the buildings are authentic, including the school, but I am sure that most villages are not full of kids with their hands out for whatever you will give. 
To be honest, it’s the fault of the tourists.  It’s become traditional to take gifts for the kids, and most people do.  Passengers where climbing out of the tender with carrier bags full of crisps and sweets and pencils for the children.  However, with so many children, who can be quite demanding, most bags full of goodies disappeared in minutes. We’ve been here before, we loved it the first time around, and we absolutely loved it all over again this time.  For visitors who do not have bags full of sweets and gifts, the trick is to make sure the kids do not grab hold of your hands, otherwise you may find you have adopted them for the duration of your visit.
Like last year, we knew we wanted to ride out on the canoes again, but I was also determined to visit all the little stalls and buy one of the wood carvings produced by the villages.  There were a couple of reasons behind this, the first being that I regretted not doing it last year, and secondly, because I personally believe that us buying their crafts is a better way of giving, other than to give in to the begging that is common.  There are many wood carvings, an artist, little pots and dolls to buy, as well as people posing in feathers and with pets for photographs.  They will accept any small donation for a picture, but the norm is a dollar.  You can also easily donate to the church and to the school in the boxes provided. We bought a wood carving of a heron with a crab in its beak, one of the best ones at the village and admired by every passenger who has seen it.  I’m dead chuffed with it.
We walked through the village, admiring the children in their feathers, the pet lizards, capibarra, caimen, monkeys and all the crafts available.  Then it was time for our little canoe trip.
We were joined by a couple of ships lecturers, the Bonners, who had heard me talking about the fantastic time we’d had last year, and wanted to join us on this year’s ride. Once again, the man who took us in his canoe did not speak a word of English, but he was a perfect gentlemen.  He took us on more or less the same route as last year, and once again we were awed by our surroundings,
We ended up at the wonderful little village, (whose name I have forgotten sadly), which is where our guide lived.  We’ve been here before, and I was dead keen to see the school again.  It was all locked up but they found the keys for us and we were able to see inside.  As well as the classrooms, there was an IT room with a couple of rows of computers, a well stocked room of text books, and the room with the “artifacts” that had been dug up by an archaeologist who had previously visited the area. He’d given them to the school which used them as part of their educational program. 
It is obvious that the people are proud of that school, and so they should be.  The children were delightful, and took great pains to help Peter film a large iguana up in a tree that they pointed out for us. Sadly, in no time at all, we had to go back to Boca Do Valeria, but with very happy smiles.
   Hot and thirsty, we headed for the tiny bar set up for us with refrigerated drinks.  Bliss. From there, we noticed a path behind the bar, and like many others, and after a good lathering in insect repellent, we took a walk to see where it went.   Now we really did get into the Amazon jungle.  OK, we didn’t see any jaguars, or monkeys, or even birds for that matter, but the noise of the insects and those invisible birds, and the humidity, and all the little things that bit my feet made the experience as real as possible. Awesome.
Finally it was back to the little bar, which by now had sold out and only had bottled water, which we guzzled anyway, and then back onto the tender for our return to the ship.  As before, towards the end of the day, there were canoes at the back of the ship, with occupants waiting for whatever donations came their way from the crew.  They are such lovely people it is impossible not to want to give. But we resisted.
And now it’s the end of another wonderful day.  Tomorrow is our last Amazon port, Santarem.  We’re going Piranha fishing!  Oooooer.

Boca da Valeria, Brazil, 2014
Boca da Valeria, Brazil, 2013
Boca da Valeria, Brazil, 2011

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