How do you take the hook out of a piranha’s mouth. Carefully! When one fell off the hook into the bottom of our boat and started flopping around and snapping its teeth, all feet immediately went up into the air.
It’s photo Wednesday and today I will be featuring a trip that Peggy and I took up the Amazon. It was the pre-digital age and the photos produced by our camera weren’t quite as clear as we produce now, but I felt we did a fair job of capturing our experience. Enjoy.
Whenever I think of the world’s great rivers, associations pop into my mind. The Mississippi immediately throws me back into early American history with Mark Twain and riverboats. The Nile takes me even further back in time to Ancient Egypt and pyramids. I think of Hindus plunging into frigid waters when I picture the Ganges. The Yangtze or Cháng Jiāng carries me off to the heart of China and the ‘mysterious East.’ The Danube makes me want to get up and slow-dance— thank you Strauss. And, I imagine exotic adventures when I think of the Congo or Niger. All of this relates to the fact that I am an incurable romantic fascinated with both history and adventure.
But nothing spells exotic for me like the Amazon. The river with its 1,100 tributaries provides a seemingly infinite number of opportunities to get lost. One could easily spend a lifetime exploring the river and unlocking the secrets of the massive rainforest the river and tropical rains supports. More than 20% of the world’s oxygen and fresh water comes from the region. And it is one of the world’s richest centers of biodiversity.
One third of the world’s birds, some 1500 species, can be found in the Amazon. This parrot stopped by for a visit. Every evening large numbers would fly between the trees in the forest canopy.
I spent a lot of time checking out the shores and canopy for birds and wildlife.
Our trips ashore introduced us to some of the more exotic insect life such as this parade of caterpillars that somehow reminded me of a dancing Kokopelli from Native American mythology. All that was lacking was his flute.
Kokopelli playing his flute as he appears on a drink coaster of ours. The girls were said to go crazy over him.
Peggy and my journey into the Amazon was tame as such adventures go. Still, we managed to work in a five-day river boat trip out of Manaus and a stay at a tree house lodge up in the rainforest canopy where we hung out with monkeys and slept in a bed that Jimmy Carter had once occupied. Our riverboat trip introduced us to the rainforest plus gave us a slight flavor of life on the river— including fishing for and eating piranhas. It was the law of the jungle: Eat or be eaten. (Grin)
On today’s photo essay, I will feature our river boat trip. Next week, we will hang out with the monkeys.
Our boat, the Amazon Clipper, settled in for the night on the Rio Negro. Our crew would tie it off to trees in the rainforest.
The view out our port-side window.
A closer view of the boat. Six cabins provided space for passengers. The top deck served as an excellent viewing platform.
Peggy also used it for a Titanic-type pose. I would add that the deck made an excellent location for evening cocktails.
Our journey into the rainforest took us to the city of Manaus which is located at the confluence of the Amazon River and its tributary, the Rio Negro some 1000 miles above where the Amazon runs into the Atlantic Ocean.
Our riverboat journey would take us out of Manaus, up the Rio Negro River, through the numerous channels of the the Anavihanas, and to the community of Novo Airao. First, however, we boated down to the confluence of the Rio Negro and the Amazon near the # 319 marker where the dark waters of the Rio Negro meet the lighter waters of the Amazon. (Photo from Google Maps.)
They call it the ‘mixing of the water’ where the Rio Negro meets the Amazon.
The braided channels of the Anavihanas brought the rainforest in close to the boat.
An evening view.
Bone took his trick at the helm.
And then posed for a photo-op on the rear railing. It almost turned into a disaster as the boat sped up. I leapt up and just caught Bone as he started to fall into the piranha infested waters! I guess if you have to go…
Later, as I noted above, we took the boat’s skiff and went fishing for piranhas. These fellows made a tasty treat.
Peggy gave the piranhas their chance for revenge but no one bit. (The crew assured us that this section of the river was piranha free.)
We saw a number of small boats along the river…
We stopped here and went for a walk in the forest.
This fellow split open a Brazil nut with his machete and gave us all a taste.
While another machete wielding man showed off a hunter’s platform.
Rubber trees provided the wealth that drove the development of Manaus in the 1800s. Rubber is made from the sap that comes from the cuts in the tree.
The town of Novo Airao gave us a feel for how people lived in Brazil’s rainforest communities. This is the church of Igreja Santo Angelo.
We were amused by the cartoon characters that decorated what was probably a school.
This open market reminded me of the shops in Gbarnga, Liberia where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
And this handsome dog reminded me of Do-Your-Part, the basenji that adopted me in Liberia.
Another typical town building.
We found this flower on a walk through the town…
And what I assumed was breadfruit.
The boats were on the waterfront of Nova Airao.
While I could never break myself away from watching for birds, snakes and wildlife, Peggy found a comfortable place to snooze on our way back to Manaus.
Manaus is a bustling city. I liked the unique apartment house on the left, boxes stacked on top of each other and leaning slightly to the right.
Passenger boats are lined up along the waterfront to begin the thousand mile journey down to the ocean and points in between. Their schedule is that they leave when they are full!
I’ll close today’s post with a couple of photos of the sun setting on the Amazon.
FRIDAY’S POST: Reading guarantees that I become a wanderer.
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY: Since Bone is traveling with us on our trip through the Grand Canyon, I introduce him/her to those of you who don’t know the small fellow with a huge personality and ego to match. Sunday’s post includes an interview.
MONDAY’S POST: I kick off our raft trip through the Grand Canyon with a fervent wish that I had spent more time getting in shape!
WEDNESDAY’S POST: Peggy and I continue our Amazon adventure with me ending up with a monkey on my head and Peggy with one in her lap.