Penguin Island, Antarctica 2008

Sunday, March 13, 2011

THURSDAY, MARCH 10 - Sailing The Amazon and Alter Do Chao, Brazil

We awake to the brown waters of the Amazon River sliding by. Sometimes there is land close by, first on one side and then the other. We have been told that these will always be islands as the actual shores of the river are miles away. Another lazy day on the Mighty Amazon!
There is nothing in the way of lectures this morning that interests us. Dick goes to trivia at 10:30AM. It is early today as we will be visiting a village this afternoon. Second place by one, again. Pierre, the Canadian from Montreal, did not show and he usually supplies one answer none of the rest of the team knows.

Dick meets Carolyn in the Observation Lounge about 11AM to watch the river go by and wait for Terry’s lecture. We begin to see frequent, small water craft of all kinds. We see the boats that provide mass transportation on this water highway
as well as small boats with an outboard and we even see what looks like a dugout canoe being paddled by two men.
There are some houses along the river and they are always up on stilts.
The river is currently 18 feet above normal and it is clear that flooding is a constant threat. We can see land on both sides, but it is really a string of islands that we are seeing, not the main land.
As mid-day approaches, the towering cumulonimbus clouds begin to build. These are an almost daily phenomenon in the Amazon and they are beautiful to see. It sure looks like we will get some rain later. At 1PM Terry begins her commentary on the area. We slide by the confluence of the Amazon and the Rio Tapajos where the city of Santarem is located.
We will visit here on our trip back down the river. At this confluence of rivers, the muddy, brown water of the Amazon and the clear water (sort of) of the Tapajos meet and do not mingle readily. One can see, at this "Meeting of the Waters," the clear and the muddy water running side-by-side and not mixing.
The muddy, heavier water of the Amazon tends to sink beneath the clearer, lighter water of the Tapajos.

We precede about 21 miles up the Tapajos to Alter Do Chão. (The map shows us leaving Alter Do Chao, white, in the evening going back to the main channel, red,)
It is a small, island community offering white, sand beaches and small cottages. It is accessible by road from Santarem and is a popular spot with the locals. This is a small fishing village on the island, Ilha do Amor. There are no tours...just tender service to the village for those who want to ashore.
We get to the theater about 3PM, in time to meet the last tender that needs a ticket. It doesn’t take long before we are called. It is just a 10 minute ride, but, as has been the standard operating procedure of the tenders on this trip...they let us idol in the water near the dock while they wait for people they can see in the distance, heading for the currently docked tender, to get there...about 10 minutes. This is crazy because our tender is right there waiting to dock! Finally the other tender pulls away and we dock. The dock is a really jerry rigged set up, but we get off.

It is almost 4PM now and the last tender is 6:30PM. We won’t be that late as we have 6:30PM reservations in Prime 7.

There are people selling crafts at a park area where the tenders are arriving.
We look at the stuff and buy a couple of miniature masks and head into the main square where there is suppose to be a craft store that carries things made by the remote natives.

The little town is nice enough...nothing like we have pictured.

The store has some really interesting things, but nothing that really speaks to us. It is very hot and humid. Fortunately it is overcast or it would be unbearable! Still we are slowly melting and running down into our shoes! We walk around the main square
 and down to a little dock area where small boats will take you over to a sand bar, made of white sand, that separates the river from a pretty lagoon.
There are a string of bars along the sand bar and several people from the ship are bargaining with some small boat owners to take them over for a drink.
This whole area is normally connected, but the river is so high you have to take a boat now. It is getting late so we continue on around
to the area where the tenders are docking.
There is a tender waiting, but they are running the tenders on a schedule now.
We are held until the next tender can dock. It is 5:45PM when we get back to the ship.
We rush around to get to Prime 7 on time.

We have a great dinner of steak for Carolyn and prime rib for Dick with oysters Rockefeller, French onion soup, and apple tart for dessert. Pleasant end to a good day.

A picture for our grandchildren who love BUGS....a moth we found on the screen ing around the tennis court today...a moth about 2-3 inches!

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