Friday, January 22, 2010

Day Thirteen: Tuesday, January 19 – On the Boat

We motored into the night on our triple decker boat, Esperança II, for longer than we could stay awake.  We stretched our hammocks across all of the available hooks and learned how to lie diagonally in them to establish a more comfortable sleeping position.  Most of us zonked right out, though the ones who were downstairs had a bigger struggle due to the very loud engine noise down there.  No matter how loud it was though, we all fell asleep because we were really really tired.

We awoke to a beautiful Amazon scene with a rural farm just beyond our boat.  We could hear its cows and roosters making their morning noises, along with TONS of birds, bugs, and other unidentifiable creatures.   A few dolphins (not pink ones) frolicked in the water at dawn and an alligator was visible off in the distance.  We ate breakfast there then motored on upriver.

We were on a small igarrape of the Amazon (not the vast main river itself) that is more like a channel between portions of the entire basin.  It was narrow enough to see both sides from our boat and to take in the farms, schools, and churches we were passing along the way.  We made a special stop to see some HUGE lily pads that weren’t on our main route.  They are each the size of a bathtub or bigger and they seem like they could support our weight though none of us tested that theory.

From there we went on to a community called Arapixuna, which the group last year visited as well.  Their central church had been freshly painted in orange and pink, a big difference from last year’s weathered yellow color.  Most of the townspeople were out of sight, probably taking their post-lunch naps.  A few folks were playing pool in the open air bar just off the center of town.  We were surprised to see some solar panels in the community and we learned that their function is mainly to power emergency services.

We discovered that the temperature was about 110 degrees Fahrenheit, which helped to explain why we were sweating so profusely.  Our next stop, then, was a long sandy point at which we could swim and bathe.  We had to choose carefully where to swim so that we could avoid possible contact with stingrays in the still water of a small cove at the beach.  The other sides of the point were safe, though, and we ventured as far out along the pointed sandbar as we could get while still reaching the bottom.  We were especially thrilled to find that dragging our feet along the sandy bottom actually got our feet clean for the first time since we have been here.

As evening fell, the night noises began and little flying bugs attempted to take over our boat.  We turned off all of the lights and then got moving as fast as we could to shake off the bugs.  We were only partially successful.  We hit our hammocks while the boat was still moving and most of us didn’t even wake up when it parked for the night.  Turns out that it isn’t as hard to sleep out here as we might have expected . . .

We saw giant lily pads at Vitoria Regias, a little river where we stopped on our boat trip.

The orange church that stood strong, the center of a little village called Arapixuna.

The cemetery at Arapixuna.

The Esperanca II docked at the village waiting for us as we venture off into town.

Our cook Louro knows how to take care of our hunger along the trip.

This region of the amazon is the only place in the world where you can find Vitoria Regias plants.

Sunset swim on the Arapiuns River.

Checking out one of the many white sand beaches on the bank of the river.

 Sunset on the Arapiuns.

Another beautiful sunset to end the day.

Rionaldo leading us through the Vitoria Regias (giant lily pads).

One of many futból fields in Arapixuna.

The group enjoying an evening swim on the Arapiuns River.

Our boat the Esperança II

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