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Friday, 25 January 2013

Tuesday 22nd January – The Amazonian Experience

Manaus Dock
We’ve had another packed day and we’re both shattered, but it has been well worth it. Peter was one of the Escorts on “The Amazonian Experience” tour and we were down on the pier at 8am ready to see the passengers on board. 

It’s definitely one of the better tours in terms of value for money and experience. It includes the meeting of the waters, a visit to a local village where you are educated on the production of rubber, a trip in a motorised canoe across January Lake to see the wildlife that’s out for the day, lunch from the local cuisine and a walk across a high wooden platform to a lily pad lake. 

Manuas is a major city which sits on the banks of the Black River where it meets the Amazon. All around are the “lowlands”, the constantly shifting islands and river banks of the Amazon, which change according to the mood f the river. The lowlands are home to the farmers and fishermen. Their produce is taken across river to feed the city, and their lives are very different from the city folk. 

So today we were taken across to see the lifestyle of the people in the lowlands, but first we saw the floating petrol stations,(which I think are brilliant),
Petrol Station
and the meeting of the waters. There were plenty of river dolphins keeping us entertained too. 

Then we passed whole villages of floating houses and villages stilts. The floating houses are built on tree trunks. The trees are similar to balsa apparently, and about four trunks are strapped together on which the house is built. These houses last about 40 years, with the advantage that it is very easy to move, and obviously when the river rises, so does your house. Floating schools, bars and churches are also built.

And we were able to walk through a caboclo, (means descendents from the original Portuguese and local Indian couples), village of houses on stilts. A lovely peaceful place without roads. Children played, adults worked, and all as if we weren’t there. The villagers work together on the land around them to cultivate it and share the produce. The disadvantage of a house on stilts is it that it doesn’t rise with the water. Last year, the river rose to its highest level in memory. Described as “terrible” by our guide, we were told that there were no lowlands to see, just water and treetops. The city flooded too. As we walked through the village on stilts, you could see the on the walls the line marking where the water level had reached. The people here have a canny way of getting round the problem though. They just build another floor inside their home, and live above the water until it recedes. Admittedly some are forced to move though.

On from there to see the rest of the wonderful sights on offer, there was so much to see in the canoe ride, and walking over the bridge to see the lily pads was awesome, as was the huge caiman lying quietly in the water when we go there. (I’m glad we didn’t catch that one last night, it was as big as the boat).

A brilliant, brilliant day. Some pictures for you:

Wasps Nest high up in the trees
Amazonian Village
Floating House
Egrets everywhere
Blue capped heron

Black banded hawk 
Very large caiman
Lily pads on Lake January

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