Tuesday morning at 8 we left for the jungle. We were picked up at the hostel by our tour company, Amazon Gero, and then went with our guide and four other foreign travelers to a small dock area. It was surrounded by a little market where mostly fish was being sold.
From there we took a small boat (our group of six, plus a guide and a driver filled it up) out to the middle of the river. The amazon, as we learned, is formed at Manaus by the meeting of two massive tributaries, the Rio Negro and the Rio Salimoes. At the point where they meet, the two types of water don’t immediately mix, so for several kilometers the amazon runs with a dark brown, almost black side, and a lighter brown side. The different waters moves at different speeds and are different temperatures. As we crossed the line the boat cut its engine and we all put our hands in the water to feel the difference. It was surprising how different each side looked and felt.
After crossing the “Encounter of the Waters,” as the meeting of the two rivers is called, we proceeded to the south side of the amazon. There we left our boat, purchased insect repelant, and boarded a VW van. We rode in the van for about half an hour. Along the way we were able to see the flooded jungle. Apparently, this is the river’s high season, which means the water is many feet (possibly even several meters) higher than it will be in the low season. That means that areas that would have been dry land six months ago are now completely submereged beneath the river.
Our ride in the van concluded at another river, the name of which I’ve forgotten, where we boarded another, smaller boat. This boat carried us for about 25 more minutes to our lodge. En route, we passed through flooded rainforest and saw several brightly colored birds. In some areas, floating plants came to the edges of the boat and we had to duck beneath low hanging branches.
Once we arrived at the lodge we ate lunch. It was standard Brazilian fair (rice, beans, etc) and tasted more “ordinary” than a lot of the restaurant food than we’ve eaten. For me, that was a welcome change because it was more “authentic” than other food I’ve been eating (and by authentic i mean closer to what actual Brazilians eat everyday.).
Following lunch, we watched Brazil’s first match in the World Cup on the lodge’s single TV. It wasn’t what I expected to be doing when I arrived in the jungle, but I think the whole country pretty much shut down for the game, and that included our tour group. It was actually pretty fun watching the game with a bunch of Brazilians, and the general consensus was that while it was good that Brazil won, they really didn’t play all that well.
Then, after the game ended, we headed out into the jungle, but I’ll describe what we there in my next post.