Posted by Emily Block | 0 comments

Brazil! (Day 2)

My second say in Brazil started just as early as the first.  I scrambled to get ready and arrived at the meeting spot just in time to sign in before we left the MV Explorer.  Similar to yesterday, we all boarded onto a large boat that would take us up the river.  Along the way, the guide explained some of the things we were seeing.  
I learned how important the rivers (the Amazon and Rio Negra) were to the people who lived here.  The river was a source of transportation similar to a highway complete with floating gas station

as well as a repair shop

and was also a major source of food.  

Most of the fruit I have been eating is actually imported because edible vegetation is rather rare.  Fish is the main staple food of the region.  It's a good thing there are 100s of different species of edible fish so there can still be lots of variety in the diet.  

The boat meandered along the meeting of the waters which is where the Amazon River and the Rio Negra meet.  Due to their differences in pH and sediments, the two rivers actually flow side by side for quite a while before they truly mix.  The guide told us a lot of interesting things about the rivers including where they got their color.  The Rio Negra looks black, but is actually a deep red from the same acid that causes an apple to brown once cut.  The Amazon on the other hand looks more like the brown of chocolate milk due to the high concentration of sediments that the snow melt in the Andes brings into it.  Some species of animals can live in both rivers, but for the most part, they are adapted to one or the other.  The river dolphins that we visited yesterday swim in between the two rivers to eat a wider variety of fish.  

After a leisurely cruse around Manaus, the boat pulled up to where we would be eating lunch.  My stomach was rumbling at that point, but I found out we would be going on another nature walk before it was time to eat.  I once again almost opted out of the walk due to the heat and humidity, but found the energy to do it anyway.  I was rewarded right away with a curios monkey climbing down from the treetops to get a better view of us strange creatures.  A walk along a rather dodgy bridge brought me to a second fantastic sight.  There was an offshoot of the Amazon that had gathered into a large, still pond where giant water lilies made their home.  I couldn't get over the size of these things!  They were bigger than the largest pizza I had ever seen.

On the way back, I stopped for a brief photo-op with one of the larger trees in the area.  

At this point in the day the heat was miserable and I saw it take it's tole on the people I passed by on the trail.  Oddly, I fully felt the intense heat, but seemed to be largely unaffected by it.  I was certainly no more uncomfortable than anyone else.  Another surprise I found out about what I am able to do.

Instead of going directly to lunch, I shopped a bit in the nearby indoor market.  I was expecting outrageous prices based on what the people from the embassy told us, but things were actually really good prices.  I bought some jewelry and magnets of some of the creatures I had seen on the trip including the pink river dolphin, the large fish I saw yesterday, and a piraña.  

Lunch was fantastic and I got to try many new foods.  By the time I was done, I was more than happy to board the canoe that would take us out on the Amazon.  The breeze from the moving boat was very welcome after a couple of hours in stagnant air.  The tour through the offshoots of the Amazon was everything one would expect it to be.  We saw tons of birds and a few of those huge blue butterflies I had only seen in a museum previously.  We got a treat part way through when an 84 year old indigenous man paddled up to us to chat with our guide.  He was selling some excellent candy that his wife had made from chocolate and Brazil nuts.  The guide taught me how to say a few things in Portuguese so I could properly purchase some candy and then tell him how good it was.  

We concluded the boat trip with some fishing for pirañas.    Even though the other boats were pulling them in like nobody's business, our boat had no such luck.  I am pretty sure it was because I bright us bad luck.  At home, my dad and I go fishing all of the time but we haven't caught anything in at least six years.  It was still fun watching the pirañas nibble at the bait.  

On the way back to our ship, it started pouring quite torrentially which was very welcome and refreshing.  I gladly spent the rest of the day resting up for another early day tomorrow.  I did some reflecting on how lucky I am to be able to do all of this.  I am having a hard time reconciling all I can do now with the memory how sick I have been.  Not that I'm complaining one bit!  :0)


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