Penguin Island, Antarctica 2008

Sunday, March 13, 2011

FRIDAY, MARCH 11 - Boca Do Valeria and Sailing The Amazon River

Dick is up at 6:30AM even though it appears to be still dark. A look outside shows that it is light but that it is pouring rain. We are moving very slowly and soon drop anchor. Carolyn is up at her usual time and we go to breakfast about 9AM. Out of the dining room window we can see a tender waiting to enter the creek that, evidently, leads to the village we are to visit this morning. The writeup we are given says this is a small village whose life is hunting and fishing. Terry Breen has repeatedly told us that we will not see any "Indians" along the Amazon as all the indigenous people (Indians) live very secluded lives and are in parts of the Amazon Rain Forest far removed from the Amazon River. So, our writeup starts out by telling us this is an "Indian" village. Is they is or is they ain’t? Well actually they are river people. A group of people who are a mixture of Indigenous, Portugese and Black and are very proud of their heritage.

The rain appears to be letting up by the time breakfast is over so we prepare to go ashore and head for the tender dock. We luck out and walk right on one and off we go. We have to wait for the one docking spot to clear and while doing so some of the lucky ones, Carolyn included, get to see the famous pink dolphin of the Amazon River. Carolyn confirms that it is "Bubble Gum" pink.

Once ashore, we are greeted by a swarm of children all expecting to be given something; anything! We are sad that we did not know of this opportunity or we would have brought more of the Silly Bandz bracelets like the ones we took to Fanning Island last September.
Fortunately, the kids move on once they realize we have nothing for them and we begin our walk through the red, sandy mud between the huts. The portion of the village that we can see consists of 20-30 open air shacks,
a school room (The ship staff has donate supplies to the school.)
 and a simple church.
The school and the church are concrete but everything else is of rough cut lumber and driftwood. Small skiffs, canoes and a few larger boats line the muddy shore.
We walk the length of the village and are cordially greeted but the language barrier is very high. The people are, to us, clearly not "Indian." The children are generally handsome with clear signs of their Portuguese and Black African background. One teenage girl, standing in and "Indian" costume of multi-colored feathers, is quite pretty and beginning to blossom. Some of the children have various animals to show us also.
Carolyn buys a small wooden boat. It is a carved, stylized, replica of the local river boats we have been seeing. This goes for $12US. She also buys four, multi-colored dolls made of circles of cloth for her Christmas tree ornament collection. These cost 10 reals or $6.67.
The people seem healthy but what a limited life they live. There is electricity but it must come from a local generator and we do not see much evidence of wiring in the homes/shacks. It is limited to a few right in the middle of the village and to street/muddy trail lights,
the school and the church. However there is a satellite dish sitting in the middle of the village.
All travel to and from here has to be by boat.
It is probably a nicer place when the river is not 18 feet higher than normal but for now it is just a muddy strip of land beside the huge river.  We understand from the crew that there is more to the village on top of the hill but we do not make the treck.
We catch the tender back to the ship,
change our muddy shoes and go to the observation lounge to watch our progress on up the river toward Manaus.

About 1PM we go to lunch and then retire to our room to do some laundry, exchange messages with our daughter and work on this blog.
There is the last Seven Seas Society party tonight. We have been invited to all four, but didn’t go to the first three. We decide to go tonight and are glad we did. It is really very nice and Dick gets two nice servings of caviar. Then we join the Chief Pursuer, Angela, for dinner. There is another couple included. We are both on the ship for the whole 71 days. We had noticed that on the formal nights there are always several tables hosted by the officers. Angela is from England and has a great sense of humor. We have a pleasant evening.

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