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Thursday, 26 January 2017

Sunday 22nd January - Manaus Day 2

OK, so I was up early bug hunting as usual.  Creepy crawly of the day has to be this.>>>>

I don't know what type of butterfly it is, but it's quite beautiful.

We're escorting the all day Amazonian Experience today, which is one of our favourites.  Setting off at about 9am, it starts with a visit to the "Meeting of the Waters".  This is where the black water of the Rio Negro meets with the white (or tea coloured), water of the Rio Solimoes.  The two rivers don't mix because they are moving at a different speeds, and have different acidity levels and water temperatures.  As a result, the two rivers run side by side for up to 20 miles before coming together as the mighty Amazon.  It's quite a sight, for Brazilians as well as foreign tourists.
The "slums of Manaus" - every time we've come here, the guides have told us this area is due to be knocked down.  

Next we got to see a floating Village.  Apparently, you can't use just any old tree to build a floating house ON.  The logs used are very expensive and only last 20-25 years, which brings a whole new meaning to the word "subsidence".  At the beginning of each dry season neighbours choose each other carefully and their houses are tied together in threes and fours to huddle up at the sides of the biggest rivers.  When the rain comes and the water rises, they all get to move house - literally.  I think I quite like the idea of picking a new view for the front room window every year.
Floating houses
Lesser Yellow Headed Vulture
Village boy with Green Anaconda (we think)

 At Lake January we changed into smaller, 10 person boats and were taken for a short tour.  At one corner of the lake is a small settlement where the guide explained how THEthe families lived.  We had difficulty hearing him as he was drowned out by a loud humming that completely surrounded us. We couldn't work out where the noise came from until he explained that there were underwater electricity cables.  Nobody put their hands in the water after hearing that!
Next was the buffet lunch provided in a large floating restuarants at the side of the lake. Conscious of hygeine and stomach bugs such as Noro Virus, most of the passengers washed their hands before eating. As Peter pointed out, when you see a tap and a sink, you naturally assume the water is clean. But there are no pipes bringing clean water from elsewhere into this restaurant, There is just the river, which also acts as the sewer. I had to keep pointing this out to people as I dashed around with sanitizer.   
Striated Heron, (except it has pink feet and a black bill - needs to be worked out)
After lunch, we dragged the passengers out of the craft market for the last highlight of the tour, which is to walk along a wooden boardwalk through a section of rainforest to see some giant lily pads. The boardwalk is about 20 feet off the ground and probably no more than 200 meters in length. A troop of monkeys live in the area and are often seen from this aerial view of the jungle floor.  But today we didn't get to see the monkeys.  In fact, we didn't get to see anything.  As we approached the lily pads, it started to rain.  Amazonian rain.  We hurried to get our waterproofs on, but in our haste, they got tied up, inside out and upside down, so of course we were very wet in less than a minute. 

There was a viewing platform at the end of the walkway. It is built on stilts, with a wooden plank floor about 20 foot above the water of the lily pad pond.  It has a roof, which meant shelter from the rain and every passenger on the tour headed for it.  As more and more of us squeezed in, and the platform began to feel just a teensy bit unsteady. There were over 60 of us after all, could it take the weight of us?
Giant Lily pads - and a lot of rain!
We stood there for around ten minutes, waiting for either the platform to collapse or the rain to ease, but we got attacked by mosquitoes instead.  I'd forgotten how prolific mosquitoes are at the lily pads.
Several bites later, the guide announced we couldn't wait any longer, we'd have to make our way back. Heads down, we hurried along, rivulets of water running down hunched backs onto trousers that slopped and shoes that squelched. We reached the craft market and the amused stares of the stall holders, dripped our way through the restaurant and slapped sodden shoes against the painted floor of the river boat as we climbed aboard. The riverboat staff ran around behind us, mopping the floor repeatedly.  "Yep", I thought, definitely an "Amazonian Experience".

Back at the ship, our cabin looked like a chinese laundry with coats, shoes, bags and clothes hung everywhere to dry out.  Fortunately, the day ended on a much dryer and happier note, with the comedian Andy Leech in the show lounge.  Tomorrow it's Parantins.  Cool.

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