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Sunday, 22 January 2017

Friday January 21st - Boca Do Valeria

Surprise, surprise, I was up early again bug hunting.

Our port today is Boca Do Valeria and we'll be tendering ashore.  The ship let down anchor and pink dolphins (or Amazon River Dolphins as they are correctly known) entertained us whilst preparations where made. In a fit of madness, Peter joined the queue and waited for at least 45 mins to get tickets for the first tenders across to the village.  His sacrifice meant we had more time there.  My hero.

Boco Do Valeria means mouth of the River Valeria apparently.  The village sits on the confluence where the Valeria joins the Amazon.  The people there wear western clothes, have limited electricity produce by generators, and watch television via the many large satellite dishes about.

But their lives are very different from our own.  They hunt and fish for food.  The teacher at the small school is self taught, and now passes on what she has learnt until the children can go to the surrounding, better equipped schools. The people live in cramped wooden houses on stilts and during the rainy season, have to share that space with their livestock which take over the "balconies".

According to the information sheet from CMV, Boca do Valeria only recieves about half a dozen or so ships each year.  This means that when one does stop to visit, the schools in the surrounding villages close and whole familes climb into their boats and travel down river to meet us.
Which means as passengers climb out of the tenders, they are inundated with curious children who attach themselves in twos and threes, hoping for sweets and treats from the wealthy tourists. Despite our experience at avoiding them, we ourselves gained a couple of teenagers who followed us as we walked up and down the paths around the village. The boys worked eventually worked out what we were looking for, and started to point out butterflies and creepy crawlies.
We have no idea what this is, but it was cute.  And very fast. 
In return, Peter showed them how to make several different popping noises and tunes, and had them laughing out loud with his imitation of a sloth. We decided they'd earned a dollar each at the end of our wander, as a thank you for finding stuff.
Back in the village the adults were waiting with their small boats and crafts. I think the standard of the crafts is getting better year on year.  If it wasn't for the fact that we already have so many keepsakes, I'd have bought loads, but I settled for a necklace which is complex and well made.  It would have cost a lot more than $5 dollars elsewhere, and I'm really pleased with it.
Peter and I always take a ride on one of the small boats for $5 each.  It's the luck of the draw as to where the boat owner takes you, but we've loved the experience everytime.  There is something we've nicknamed "the boatyard" which Peter particularly likes as source material for his paintings. Our driver today was very happy to accommodate us, spending some time close by so that we could take loads of photographs.
The "boatyard"
Local houses along the Valeria river
Back again at the village, we visited the bar for an ice cold drink before going back to the ship.  As always, we've enjoyed our time here, but we were grateful to get back to the relative cool of the ship and have a cold shower before lunch.  The afternoon was spent chatting with other and watching the Amazon idle by.

We'll continue sailing now until we reach Manaus tomorrow afternoon.  Something completely different again then.

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