Alter do Chao and the new river journey to Manaus.

Hello! I am in Manaus, where I arrived yesterday after another boat trip of two and a half days, from Santarem.
I was in Alter Do Chao 5 days, and I was a little sad to move away from it. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place, where the river seems a lake because is surrounded by a bay. There are beaches with white sand, especially on ‘”Ilha do Amor”, approachable by taxi-boats.
It has nothing of the hostile environment one would expect in the middle of the Amazon and the only animals you encounter are curious ugly ugly black vultures who cavort through the streets in search of waste and, on the shore of the river, iguanas that look like mini-dinosaurs escaped from a Japanese cartoon.
Then I took the boat to get to Manaus from Santarem. This time the boat was most unlucky, and the trip was a bit harder.
First of all, last time I was able to place my hammock on one side, so, at least on that side, I had no one. This time instead, I found myself in the middle of the tangle, with hammocks on the right, left, up, down and only a great weariness made me finally fall asleep the first night.
The next day, however, after a lot of people left the boat in a stop, I hung the hammock in another place, relatively spacious. But I didn’t think about the engine, which was just down there. It did a continuous noise that which prevented me from sleeping, I don’t know how others around me could. Luckily I have a laptop, so I read something, played some chess, watched a couple of movies and so I spent the night. (Thanks to my friend Stefan for giving me various films to use in the dead moments of the trip.)
In the three days on the boat, an almost persistent flat and white sky and washed the colours, making the scenarios less spectacular respect to the other time.
We crossed several areas violently cleared from trees, turned into meadows where cattle, buffaloes and horses graze. For other traits, however, we skirted as long orgy of dense trees of every kind, clinging to high cliffs. The dolphins appeared more often, together with an enormous variety of birds of all kinds, herons, hawks, small, colorful, long and white, etc. …
While the meantime, more and more, a powerful thought conquered me: if this crooked proceeding in a dark forest, to the West … The road to western lands … if it was just a symbol, a metaphor of existence? “Why do we fly precisely in this direction, where all the suns of humanity have hitherto set? Is it possible that people may one day say of us that we also steered westward, hoping to reach India — but that it was our fate to be wrecked on the infinite? Or, my brethren? Or?”

 

One of the Alter Do Chao beaches.

 

The boats that ferry to “Ilha do Amor” (Love island).

 

A small strip of sand connecting two shares dell’Ilha do Amor.

 

After putting a Brazilian beauty girl in water, I promised some female readers a Brazilian guy. But I can offer you much more: an Amazon-Italian, a rarity! :-)

 

 

 

 

 

I did carnival in Alter do Chao. On small and large chariots, people danced frenetically meanwhile other people threw each other flour and spray foam (impossible to avoid them).

 

This gentleman asked me to take his picture, and why not.

 

Canoe at dusk.

 

Sunset at Alter do Chao.

 

Again on the boat, from Santarem to Manaus, again a tangle of hammocks.

 

An hammock neighbor. At the end, a little of promiscuity is not so dramatic ;-)

 

Sadly, it is forbidden to jump in the other net.

 

The same girl of before.

 

Boat.

 

Mother and son.

 

Canoes on the river.

 

Canoe greetings.

 

Canoe and hut.

 

Another blue sunset.

 

Next time I will tell of Manaus. I was thinking making a tour in the forest from here but, by all accounts, those that are made in Ecuador are much nicer and cost less as well, then, as I go there, is better to wait.
Also, I’ll do a little “cheating” in the sense that I will take a plane to get to Colombia. The fact is that there are not freighters for passengers to Ecuador, the only one passes (maybe) once a month and the travel conditions are terrible. So the only way to reach the Ecuador from here is: Manaus-Tabatinga (a week by boat), Tabatinga-Iquitos, Peru (another week in the boat) Iquitos-Yurimaguas (another week of boat) where finally the road is reached and from there to Ecuador it takes maybe a week, in short, more than a month of travelling!
So, because the flights to Ecuador are very expansive from here, I took one for tomorrow night to Bogotà… keep following me! :-)

The trip on the Amazon from Belem to Santarem

Hi mates! This time I speak of the journey by boat from Belem to Santarem on the Amazon river.
Apart from a bit of inconvenience due to sleeping in the hammock together with a hundred other people in the under-bridge, the trip was really amazing and when, after more than three days, I arrived at destination in Santarem I almost regretted having to leave the ship. The fact is that you pass through spectacular scenery. Already during the first night I was filled with all the charm of the river, the forest, the lights of small coastal villages and houses on stilts, scattered here and there, mysterious, with little dim lights before the black wall of forest.
The next day, then, I have not ceased for a moment to contemplate “Heart of Darkness” scenarios, with thick vegetation that falls plunging into the brown water. In some places it is extraordinarily wide, it is amazing to see how much water pushes towards the sea. In other points we passed through archipelagos of small islands, entering in long corridors through the forest. Sometimes I saw freshwater dolphins.
Another curious thing are the children who come by canoe from their little houses to greet the boat. Some of them are very small, at six – seven years venturing alone in the canoe, and indeed in that context it is important to learn to drive one of it almost as walking. Other times, the mothers bring their children to see the boat.
However, I had never seen a river so big, and in fact it is the biggest. Then a question arises: how is it possible that with all the water that this and all the other rivers of the world always pour in the sea, this remains constant salty? I will look for an answer on google.
In short, an amazing experience, which however I will do again early to go to Manaus and then from there to Ecuador, although the latter seems not so simple as it seems looking at the map.
The Lonely Planet describes these trips much harder than they are, in the end there was no sultriness, nor mosquitoes, nor smell, and apart from some discomfort of sleeping on the hammock, the only problem was the food because a heavy rain in Belem had prevented me from doing the shopping before boarding, and being now vegetarian, the only choice were the cheese toast but, for some reason, they were pretty disgusting and were very expensive as well. Fortunately, the next morning when we stopped at Breves, a kid from the port sold me on the fly two baguettes of bread that I have used for the rest of the trip.
Arrived at Santarem I took a bus to Alter do Chao, where I am now. It’s a small village on the river where there is not much to do and then is a good place to rest before leaving again.

 

Boats in Belem, since always the main port toward the Amazon.

 

The tangle of hammocks in the underbridge where I slept three nights.

 

Amazon river.

 

A Canoe.

 

Hut.

 

Another boat with hammocks.

 

Boys in canoe greetings us.

 

During the trip I met Eva, a German doctor. Here she taught the flute to the children.

 

A boat.

 

People.

 

People.

 

The river.

 

Me on my hammock!

 

Hut on the river.

 

Little house.

 

Kid on canoe.

 

Another house.

 

Backlight.

 

Amazing Amazzon.

 

Sunset.

 

Twilight.

 

Big clouds.

 

And these were the photos. Ah, now on call me Dekaro Geographic! :-)