Deep into the Jungle

Manaus, Brazil

I had never really had a picture in mind of what the jungle – The Amazonas – would look like. I guess my only idea was based on Walt Disney´s ´The Jungle Book` as a place filled with all these exotic animals – not quite! I had also not envisioned been guided through The Amazonos by an Indian Rastafarian from Guiana. He was quite a character, a all time Mr Cool, jungle junkie and nature lover who loved to sing ´Everything is going to be alright`. He was at total ease with his surroundings which I found extremely alien and at times intimidating.

I spent three days and two nights in the jungle covered in my new perfume – also known as DET – on both body and clothes. I faired better than the rest of the group in the bite department but did annoy myself that I had to drink so much water as the result was always more more bites on the bum – those sneaky mossies just seemed to be waiting for the very moment.

I enjoyed the boat trips up and down the small channels of the Rio Amazonas for the breeze it brought in the heat, the distant view of the dense jungle and to sit quietly for a good couple of hours trying to catch Piranhas with pieces of fresh chicken. I managed to get a few nibbles as they feasted on my bait while clearly avoiding being caught – I am sure they must love novice fisherman. A few others were a lot luckier and it resulted in Piranha soup for lunch the following day.

Our night adventure on the water was eerie and exciting as we motored along the unnaturally calm river from bank to bank looking for Cayman which would be big enough to eat. I have never been on a hunt before and it is some serious business. One of the local jungle residents easily balanced on the boat and managed very quickly to spear and catch a female cayman. It was tied up for safe transportation back to base – well for the benefit of the passengers that was.

The next day we once again ventured on the river in search of some Pink Dolphins (yes they do exist) before trekking into the jungle for the night. I was not overly excited about the prospect but still needed to see what this jungle talk was all about. We made our camp (15 minute walk from the waters edge) using all resources the jungle could provide us with. So while some people helped chop down trees, others swept the area clean, built a BBQ or started marinating our skinned cayman in garlic, salt, lime and citrus herbs found in the jungle. I did ask myself at this stage who on earth would ever want to be on Survivor.

The cayman was just yummy – a smooth smokey flavour from the fire and neither tasted of chicken nor fish. It was not all about building camp and we made tracks into the jungle to explore. Our Rastafarian guide showed us medicinal plants for malaria, cuts, bruises, water vines (whose water tasted very sweet), how to make fans out of the local palm tree leaves, crack open fresh Brazil nuts with a machete and I guess the best highlight of the day was to see a tarantula.

Back at camp we set up our hammocks and mossie nets before settling down on a log to enjoy the relaxing properties of cacacha with dinner. Even with a few strategically placed candles the jungle was very very dark and I did hope that no snakes would be going for their nightly stroll. When it actually came down to going to bed it really was entertaining and annoying all at the same time as some people hammocks broke when safely settled inside and then to top it all once we were all in bed I found myself hitting the hard wet ground with a big thud – along with everyone else. This happened a few times and at this stage I did not appreciate the quirky saying of our guide ´Everything is going to be alright` and wished ever so hard that the morning would come so we could leave this place that made me feel very uncomfortable.

I had a big smile as we got back on the boat and smiled even more when I got to see a sloth for the very first time. My jungle trip was finally over and I could not wait to get back to the city of Manaus.

Comment dowloaded from Travelpod
Green with envy!!!
Hey my dear… your jungle trip sounds AMAZING!!!! I’m very jealous and now DESPERATELY want to quit my job and do it all again!!! You sound like you are having great fun…. even if you hd to trek through the mozzie filled jungle….
Miss you!
L xxxx From lizzielizard77, on Mar 14, 2008 at 08:37AM

Ferrying with the locals

Ferrying with the locals
Manaus, Brazil

Described as an experience and a half, it was something I was dreading but in some crazy way getting excited about. It would also be (I kept telling myself) a great local experience to be living, eating and sleeping with the Brazilian people – no chance to go back to the safety of a hotel, hostel or tent. Prepared with hammock, snacks, water and other drinks I was ready for my three nights and four days on the river with about 150 local people…or was I?

Having put up my hammock up the day before leaving, it seemed somewhat spacious even though the 13 of us had to place our hammocks rather close and I mean arm to arm. However upon arriving the next day the 2nd deck was covered in an array of colours – there must have been 80 – 90 hammocks of all different sizes strung from beam to beam. We had to get our fighting hats on to protect our space, as the local people constantly tried to fit one more hammock amoung ours – Crazy.  Limited Portuguese was a definite disadvantage but soon the international sound of huffing, puffing and tutting started to work its magic.

I was a bit apprehensive about what the food would be like on the ferry especially as the guidebooks all say that you receive brown rice (only brown as it is cooked in river water) and beans. I was pleasantly surprised as we all piled in shifts of 10 into the dinky dinning hall that the food was rather good – yes I had beans and rice but it wasn’t brown looking rice and included some delicious beef , salad and potatoes served a different way each day.

I enjoyed some good sunsets on board with a couple glasses of vino and watched and listened to the local people including children sing and dance to the constant music that played on board. The first night however was pretty much restless and I am sure some bruises will be appearing as I was elbowed in the cheek, hit on the head, sat on and kicked in the back. I did eventually go to sleep only to be woken at 5am with more people coming on board and of course a lot more hammocks!! Let me just say the trip to the bathroom was not just a colourful affair but also meant a lot of ducking and crawling.

After three nights we docked in Manuas at 2am in the morning and carried on sleeping till they kicked us off at 6am. If I had to sum up my time on board it was something that I am glad I did not miss, of course I thoroughly enjoyed my first shower in three days but I would give that all up again in order to share and experience once again this time with the Brazilian people and their way of travelling. I do also think we got extremely lucky with our ferry and maybe if the boat was a lot more packed I might not be singing in the same tune!

TravelPod Comments Downloaded:

Very beautiful sunset!
And hilarious hammock experience. Keep up the great writing!
Louise Brown
TravelPod Community Manager From Louise Brown, on Feb 29, 2008 at 08:29PM