I'm on a boat: Tabatinga to Manaus

Trip Start Nov 17, 2010
Trip End Feb 27, 2011

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On a boat

Flag of Brazil  , Amazonas,
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

02/02/2011 - Wednesday
As we approached the boat, we could see that it was already 80% filled with hammocks and people.  The boat was a triple decker: the bottom and middle decks were filled with hanging hammocks and passengers, and the deck at the top was an open deck with some chairs and a small cabin at the top.

I had read that there is generally more room in the middle deck, however it looked quite full so we decided to get a spot right near the entrance/exit of the boat.  This meant that we could not put up our hammocks until we had pulled out of the dock, so we had to sit on our bags and wait.  Around us where all locals, mostly families.

It took well over an hour before we finally left, and in that time many more people had boarded and hung up their hammocks on the boats.  We stopped at two or three more ports to pick up more passengers, and finally we were out on the open water.

We hung our hammocks up with not much space between them, and very soon our hammocks were surround with many more families.  I'm not sure how fast the boat was travelling, but there was a nice breeze along the sides even though it was pretty sunny.  I had a wander around the bottom and middle decks.  Near the rear (stern?) of the boat there were toilets, which also served as shower rooms.  It wasn't the most hygenic shower but then there wasn't much choice, it was either that or not shower at all.  We also realised a bit late that we only had one roll of toilet paper to share between us for three nights and four days, but luckily they supplied some rolls in the toilets.  I took half a roll just in case we ran out.

On the boat, lunch was served at 1pm, and dinner at 6:30pm.  The food comes out of the kitchen and is set up on a table near the back of the boat.  It was the same most of the time, rice, beans, chicken, and some kind of grain that the locals sprinkled onto the rice. It didn't taste all that nice though, just very dry and flavourless.

The lights on the boat were turned off around 9:30pm, and by then most people were in the hammocks already.  It had gotten much cooler by nightfall, and there was still a steady breeze, so we went to bed fully dressed as to not get cold.  Neither of us had any blankets, which was something we didn't think we'd need being in the Amazon.

03/02/2011 - Thursday
Decided to explore the boat a bit more on Thursday.  Found out that there was actually a small store on the third deck, as well as tables and chairs to sit.  Oliver had some Brazilian money and we bought these things called "dim dims", which were different fruit flavoured ice blocks.

We met a few more gringos on the boat; a few Israelis, a few Australians and a British guy called Jason, who we shared a hostel room with in Leticia.  We thought he looked familiar before, and it turned out he had worked at Hostel Musicology in Bogota.

Most of our time was spent chatting, playing cards and reading.  The view from the boat was great though, and the river just seemed like a flat never ending ribbon of brown.  When the wind died down the river was very calm and the reflections made by the clouds above were amazing.  In the afternoon we could see storm clouds gathering on one side of the river.  At night there was a large thunderstorm, and I was lucky enough to capture a lightning strike on my camera (see photos).

04/02/2011 - Friday
Much of the same, I finished reading the second book in the "Millenium Trilogy", which I had picked up for $2 from the hostel back in Bogota.  At night they set up a TV near the front of the boat and surprisingly we could get reception of a football match, between two teams in the Brazilian league.

05/02/2011 - Saturday
Around midday we passed the 'Crossing of the Waters', where the Rio Solimões joins with the Rio Negro, and after two hours we finally docked at the passenger terminal in Manaus.
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