Thursday, 4 July 2013

Jungle Living

Day 34 - 2 de Julho: Manaus & the Amazon Jungle

I still can't believe that everything i've done today has been crammed into just one day! Of course, it helps when you wake up at 5:30 in the morning. It was a hard wake up call, but after a bit of coffee and bread, I was ready to go. By 6:10, we were on the road to the marina - we were going to meet up with the family that stayed overnight in the jungle and then Jeffson would finish their tour. At the marina, we got more coffee and bread, then made our way out to the point where we dropped them off yesterday. Here's where Jeffson's amazing jungle knowledge came into play - he didn't actually know where his team took the family, and he was going to have to track them. Of course, it was a little easier than the jungle search and rescue that he was part of in the past (his team cut down the odd palm every so often to help him out). It still was impressive to watch him at work though. We continued a fair ways until we came across one of the training grounds that they use to demonstrate making traps. We had to re-set up a few before carrying on since we would be bringing the family to this place on the way back. A little further up, we met up with Marcel (one of the guides) who came ahead to meet up with us. We all returned to finish setting up the traps before the family arrived. It sounded like they had a lot of fun last night, despite it raining most of the night. The young boy along was such a cool little kid. And I still couldn't believe how well he spoke english! By his looks, mannerisms and such, I was convinced that he was the Brazilian version of the little asian kid from Indiana Jones. Anyway, while they were being demonstrated traps, I had a fairly decent portuguese conversation with one of the guides. Ironically enough, it was a conversation about how hard it is to learn another language. I think I'm getting better though. On the way back, I took a few pictures of the plant life here - one in particular, I had to give the appropriate name "Death Palm" to. It was basically a palm tree made completely out of long black thorns. If this thing could walk, the whole human race would be doomed. Anyway, we followed the same way back, dropped the family off back where they started, and were on our way again. As we will be deeper into the jungle for a few of the upcoming days, Jeffson had to buy ammo for his gun. Sounds like we're going to enter some pretty wild area! The unfortunate part of being busy is that time is never on your side. We didn't have much time before having to head out again, so we pulled into a fast food place to pick up some long awaited lunch. Everyone in the car had to go to the washroom, so I was asked to hop in the driver's seat and wait in the drive thru. It was all good, and I pulled up to the pickup window just as the guys returned. We got our food, but then Jeffson told me to continue on and drive home. I was surprised, but excited - after more than a month, I finally get to drive a car on the roads again - and better yet, foreign roads. But all these perks were potential downsides too - after not driving for a month, i'm suppose to drive an unfamiliar vehicle on unfamiliar (and somewhat less organized) roads, wearing cheap flip flops. It went well though; everyone back in one piece. We ate our lunch and immediately packed up and headed out again. With a few of Jeffson's relatives and Marcel, we had planned a two night trip to Jeff's house up the Amazon river (right in the jungle). The boat ride out was beautiful - it kind of reminded me of my childhood summer memories, heading out for a day of fishing on the boat, especially since the river was wide enough to be a straight or sound into the ocean. I sort of expected to see ocean at the end of the drive, however, I know that we would see that for hundreds of miles. We instead, drove into a smaller channel. Little houses speckled the coastline; all people who would much prefer the peaceful serenity of the jungle to the bustling city life. We stopped at a few of these houses, sometimes to buy food, sometimes just to talk. At the end of the channel though, was the place that we'd be staying. On stilts to stand just above the high river, it was so simple, yet so incredibly cool. Everything was hand built from the ground up and sort of made you feel like a pioneer - a jungle pioneer! Tonight, we'd be sleeping in hammocks, listening to the continuous thunder in the far distance. This place also has a bit of electricity in the form of a generator that lights up the house at night. If I need to, I can plug my phone in tomorrow, but because there isn't any wifi here, I probably won't have to. Bathing sure is different here too. It was dark here when we arrived, and nobody wanted to smell like they'd been hiking the jungle all day, so we took turns at the shower routine... which is really hard to call a shower. Basically, we had half a two litre coke bottle as a cup, and with it, you would crouch on the pitch black porch and pour river water over yourself. We had soap too, but it sure was a different way to get clean. I'm really surprised how clean the amazon river water is though - the locals actually can just scoop it out of the main river and drink it - i'll risk the clear and flowing creek water, but I don't think I'd go as far as to drink the yellow-green amazon water. We ended off the night with a bit of dinner - beef mixed into mandioc flour and fried. Really tasty. We ate, the set up my hammock in one of the rooms and here I am now. But the evening is not quite done yet - sounds like we'll be going fishing tonight and I won't miss out on that! Being such a long day though, I'll write about it in tomorrow's post. It won't matter since I can't post anything tonight anyway! 

Out in the jungle again

Perhaps he can hear better with the mushroom?
The death palm!!
Not that you can see anything in this pic, but on the way back we saw dolphins in the river!
We went to the marina in a VW van. Really cool!
Some shots of the way over
Random jungle fruit
A random stop to a guy's house along the way. I'm no expert or anything but I'm throwing out a guess that the boat there may have a small leak.
The kitchen
Our dinner

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