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 for 5 days, and I was a little sad to move away from there. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place, where the river looks like a lake since it is surrounded by a bay. There are beaches with white sand, especially the “Ilha do Amor”, approachable by taxi-boats.
It has nothing of the hostile environment one would expect in the middle of the Amazon. The only animals around are some curious ugly black vultures searching for waste on the streets and, by the shore of the river, iguanas that look like mini-dinosaurs escaped from a Japanese cartoon.
After, I took another cargo boat to get to Manaus from Santarem. This time the boat was worse, and the trip was a bit harder.
Also, last time I managed to place my hammock at the end of one side, so, at least on one side, I had no one near. This time instead, I was in the middle of the hammocks tangle, on the right, left, up, down, and only a great weariness made me fall asleep the first night.
The next day, after many people left the boat at a stopover, I hung the hammock in another place, relatively spacious. But I didn’t think about the engine, which was just down there. It made a continuous noise that prevented me from sleeping. I don’t understand how the others around me could. It was really impossible, so I left my hammock and I reached a silent place on the boat where I spent the night with my laptop, reading, playing chess, and watching a couple of movies. (Thanks to my friend Stefan for giving me some films to watch in these situations.)
In the three days on the boat, an almost persistent flat white sky washed the colors, making the scenarios less spectacular than the first trip. We crossed several areas violently and sadly deforested, turned into meadows where cattle, buffaloes, and horses graze. On other stretches, we skirted high cliffs, covered with an orgy of clinging trees of all kinds. The dolphins appeared more often, together with all sorts of birds, herons, hawks, etc… of various sizes and colors.
In the meantime, 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?”
Next time I will tell of Manaus. I was thinking of making a tour in the forest from here, but by all accounts, those in Ecuador are nicer and also cost less, so, since I will also go there, it’s better to wait.
Also, I’ll do a little “cheating” in the sense that I will take a plane to get to Colombia. The reason is that there are not freighters for passengers to Ecuador, the only one passes (maybe) once a month, and the travel conditions are terrible. An alternative to reach Ecuador from here is: Manaus-Tabatinga (a week by boat), Tabatinga-Iquitos, Peru (another week by boat) Iquitos-Yurimaguas (still another week by boat) where finally the road is reached, and from there to Ecuador it takes maybe a week, in short, more than a month of traveling!
So, because the flights to Ecuador are very expensive from here, I changed my original plan, and I booked one for tomorrow night to Bogotà… keep following me!