Thursday, October 17, 2013

Up the Amazon - A Journey Into Paradise

Hey all,

It’s time for another trip into the Amazon.  I got great response from you all last week, and today’s blog hopefully should be just as interesting.  Over the next two weeks I’ll go chronologically, starting with day one and working on through the two days we spent in Manaus.

As I mentioned last week, once we got on the boat we had a short introduction time where we got to know the crew, our guides and each other.  Then we had a few hours on our own before any activities were scheduled.  Jonathon and I put our room together--that only took a little bit, then we were up on the deck, sitting in the bow and watching the river go by.  

Lord, it was beautiful.  So green and lush and peaceful.  We went along at a decent pace, slow enough to see the sights, but fast enough to make good progress up the Rio Negro.  We saw small settlements, islands, and acres and acres of trees that were huge and oddly shaped.  I was amazed.  

There were small boats--a little like The African Queen, and barges that moved anything from sand and garbage to housing supplies and appliances.  There are few roads in this area, so the waterway IS the only way to move things around.

We loved the first day on the boat and were filled with anticipation as we headed out for our first canoe trip.  We climbed into the small green canoe and headed out into one of the smaller tributaries off the main river.

I can't express how amazing this trip was.  We cruised into a flooded forest and slid between some of the biggest trees I've seen since my time in the redwoods.  They were beautiful and filled with life.  So many birds I couldn't count, I about got whiplash trying to see everything.  We saw toucans, parrots, and macaws! WooHoo!!!! Below is a picture of some nests made by weaver birds.  They were everywhere along the river.  Pretty damn creative.

After that adventure, we came in for dinner.  The cook made sure she served food that was traditionally Portuguese.  It was great for those who hadn't been in Brazil for long and over the seven days we were on-board, even Jonathon and I were able to taste some things we hadn't before.  Each and every meal was an adventure in itself.  Especially deserts were amazing!

Dinner was followed by a talk by our guide Souza about the native fruits and veggies found in the Amazon.  It was really interesting and I learned a lot.  I took copious notes and I'm sure some will find it's way into the book I'm writing.  

And to end the night, we were treated to a wonderful lighting storm.  All flash heat, meaning no rain, but it was beautiful.  I took lots of pics, but not many came out.  *sigh*

The days started EARLY.  A knock sounded on the door at 5:20am, and we were due at the canoe at 5:50am.  OUCH!!!!  But it was totally worth it.  This first morning and every morning afterwards became my favorite time of day.  We watched the sun rise over the river, and the quiet serenity of the forest was lovely.  In the mornings you could hear the howler monkeys waking up all along the river, and it's a sound you won't soon forget.  Perfect for a zombie movie is what I thought.  I even spied our first critter!  A Northern Cayman Lizard sunning itself on a branch.  Looked a bit like an Iguana. 

The day set the standard for those that followed.  Morning canoe ride, followed by breakfast, then a bit of time as we sailed up the river.  After that, we'd go on a forest walk for a couple of hours, then back for a cold shower, then lunch.  A few more hours of travel, then we'd hit the canoes or sometimes, we'd find a village or ruins to explore.  Then back for dinner, followed usually by a night time canoe ride.  The days changed up a bit, but this was the usual schedule.  And though it kinda felt like we ate then adventured, then ate again, it was a wonderful experience.

This day in the afternoon we visited a indigenous village.  I think they were called the Korubo.  We were shown how these people lived and it really makes you appreciate what you have.  The most amazing thing we saw was how they built their homes.  Planked homes made by chainsaws.  I mean they used chainsaws to smooth logs and make boards.  We were totally impressed.

We also saw how they cultivate the land with fruit trees and other crops.  No manioc here (will talk more about that next blog) but they had palms, acacia, banana and cashew trees.  So very poor, yet they seemed content and happy with their lot.  Really made me think.

They had jewelry we could purchase and I went crazy.  I loved the colors and styles.  I also picked up a wooden carved canoe that looked like what we traveled in, so it was a good souvenir for a memory. 

After dinner, which was yummy--we had delicious maracujá (passion fruit) ice cream.  My newest favorite fruit, this is one I'm totally remembering and making when I get home--we went out for our very first night canoe ride.

I've got to tell you, there is something about sliding underneath the stars as you slip through the low branches of trees that was so romantic AND a tiny bit scary.  But mostly exciting.  I loved it.  The guides used huge searchlights to beam on the trees and at first I was irritated because they moved so fast I couldn't understand how they could see anything.  But after a while I realized they were so expert they knew exactly what they were doing.  And they found things.  

We saw many night birds (check out these beautiful hoatzin) and of course, bats.  And we found a large speckled Cayman.  Beautiful animal, and so still the only way we saw him was by the reflection of the spotlight in his eyes.

I'll be posting night pics from several other people in my blogs, because my camera doesn't do night photos well.  We did more videos than pictures.

Anyway, that was the first day, and like I said, most of our days followed the same schedule.  A few changeups  in the routine, but overall each day was like a wonderful gift we got to open.  Absolutely awesome!!!!

Next week's blog will have more detail about the highlights of our trip.  You'll discover why I LOVED one particular morning and why there is a pink dolphin wearing a pair of my pants.  *grin*  Want to learn more?  Check in next week and see all the deets!

Hugs to you all,

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams


Ray said...

Sunrise and sunset are two of my favorite times to just look and meditate. Sunset at sea is beautiful, but my favorite was at the Ex-Pat Club in Diego Garcia. The club was at the edge of the water as I stood there with the Navy doctor who came to inspect out clinic. She took the other Medical Services Officer and me to dinner at the club after the inspection.

The best time I had observing sunrise was sitting near Puget Sound when I was out all night driving around with my two best friends Joyce and Aleta when I was nineteen and they were seventeen. The day before we had been in Olympic National Park on the Quinalt Indian Reservation.

CJ England said...

Hey Ray,

I've not been to Diego Garcia, but I agree 100% about the Puget Sound. It's gorgeous there, both sunrises and sunsets on the far side of the islands. San Juan is one of my favorites.

Phylis said...

Oh what an adventure CJ! I am jealous! How fun! I love both sunrises and sunsets. We have some really gorgeous ones here in Nebraska. Thank you so much for sharing. I know I'm going to love each installment as much as I loved this one! Wow! Yep. JEALOUS! lol

CJ England said...

Everyday I thank God, Phylis, that he's given us this amazing adventure we're on. There is no way we could have managed without him giving us this gift and this life we're living? It IS a true gift!