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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Sunday 20th January – Boca Do Valeria

The ships blurb describes it as “This remote and primitive Indian village of 75 inhabitants.......”.  This confused the ship full of tourists - as when we got off the tender, there were at least double that number of children waiting at the pier.
Boca Do Valeria Church and School
The ships blurb does go on to explain that people from all the surrounding villages turn up when a ship drops anchor in the river nearby, and 75 must easily swell to 2-300.  In fact, the ships blurb gives a very good description of the place and what to expect.   Not everyone reads that though, do they?  The “primitive Indians” are getting wise to the tourist trade, and turn up with all sorts of means of persuading money out of us.  Many of the children just straight out and beg for a dollar, which of course gets right up the nose of us Brits, so everyone refuses, although most of the passengers being of grandparent age, cannot resist giving or buying the children sweets, crisps and pop.  Then there are the pets.  They are brought in for the passengers to take photos of.  Caiman, parrots, monkeys, giant bugs, sloths, a toucan and little guinea pig rat things were on show everywhere.  As were catfish?  Giant examples were on display, apparently breathing in the air, and I’m told one child had a fish on a lead?   I am sure most of these pets are well looked after, but seeing the way some of them are handled makes me wary of encouraging the practice and handing over the obligatory dollar to take a photo.  I am always happy to encourage fair trade though.  Each time we have visited there seem to be more stalls, and this year I bought a couple of little handmade items for just a few dollars. 

Villager dressed up and posing for photographs.  Note the fish model, and the painted back drop.  The villagers really are working out how to get our money.
We love this place.  Not because of the hundreds of begging children, but because it is remote.  The little village really is in the middle of the jungle, and for $5 dollars each you can take a canoe ride further up the tributaries to see more of the area where these people live.  If you’re lucky, you get to see more of the wildlife, such as an eagle or an egret, but mostly you get to soak up the environment of lush green vegetation, and water everywhere.   As usual, our guide slowed when he could see we were interested in particular things on the river banks, taking us closer when he’d worked out we were curious about something.  And this was without speaking a word of English.
One of the villagers offering a boat ride

A riverside house
 We also took the walk along the path behind the little bar again.  This path is clear and well trodden and goes on for a long way, probably to the next village or something.  We walked along it for as far as we thought right, as always hoping for sightings of monkeys, or birds, or any of the weird and wonderful.  As per our last walk along this way, we heard an orchestra of birds and insects. I think we heard monkeys too.  But we saw very little in comparison, the butterflies were pretty though, it was just a shame the large and stunningly beautiful blue ones didn’t rest long enough to have their picture taken.  These did though.

 And then sadly, it was another visit over, and we took the tender back to the ship. 

Tomorrow we get to Manaus which is basically the largest city on the Amazon.  We’re hoping to go Caiman Spotting tomorrow night, and then do the Amazonian trip the next day.  Awesome!

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