Half way along the Amazon

Trip Start Sep 23, 2010
Trip End Jul 13, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hostel Rio Branco

Flag of Brazil  , State of Amazonas,
Sunday, October 24, 2010

24th Oct.

It was cooler on board than expected but also quite noisy. We left the boat around 7am then spent an hour walking round in circles trying to find a hotel. We ended up in Hotel Rio Branco (who gave us breakfast on arrival, water melon, bananas and rolls with ham) with most of the guys from the boat which was nice. After a few hours siesta we went in search of food and the
Teatro and ended up in a bar listening to a local band playing. We then went back to catch up on emails and banking. At 6.30pm Federico rang and said that there was a music performance a the Teatro for R$1, so we went as it was a cheap way of seeing inside. The performance
lasted an hour and a half, so after that we took a bus to the football stadium for the Manaus 2010 fiesta. It was pretty amazing with 1000's of dancers and lorry floats with giant animal heads (mainly bulls) and musicians playing as loud as they can! Our first late night in Brazil!

25th Oct.

Got up at 8am and had another nice breakfast before getting some important laundry done. Well one thing I can say is that Brazil is expensive, in Peru 1kg of washing was 4sols (1) but here they want R$2 (0.77p) per item or R$10 (3.85) per kg! So we put a few items in the launderette and bought a bar of soap to wash the rest ourselves. Rock n roll! We then went in search of lunch which was not as good as yesterdays and was cold! An ice cream made up for it though! After some more internet surfing back at the hotel we took Alex out for dinner as she wanted a decent meal and didn't want to go alone. On the way we popped in to the port to check for boat times to Belem and after an hour of searching we found a restaurant and had a nice final meal together.

26th Oct.

Had breakfast then went down to the port to book the boat to Belem. Not only does it cost more but food is not included and we need to buy what we want (hopefully) on board. So we went down to the supermarket to stock up on fruit and a few other essentials that we might need on our next 4 day "cruise". We then had lunch in a restaurant across the road from the hotel that
did buffet by the kg so we had a plate between us which was very nice. As the girls were leaving to catch a bus to Boa Vista at 4.30pm they asked to use our shower to freshen up and then we said our final goodbyes, it had been a fun week with them. We then went down to the
port to get on-board and hang our hammocks to reserve a good spot. Once back at the hotel we sorted our stuff and made some sandwiches for the trip, had a shower and got off to bed.

27th Oct.

Got up early for breakfast then walked down to the boat with our big backpacks, (couldn't carry
everything in one hit) then back to the hotel for a nice cooling shower before heading back to the boat with the rest of our gear and food. Once on the boat we were pleasantly surprised to find the boat had Air-con on the deck we were on, result! At around 12.30pm the boat left the official port, then travelled 200 meters to another port to pick up people that paid for their tickets from the unofficial agents sat outside the main port. They then proceeded to search out any hammock space that was left, which wasn't much! We then thought that once people got on we would get going, "ah but we are in Brazil," the boat finally left 5 and a half hours later at 6pm! Yep you read it right, we left Manaus 6hrs later than we were told and all they were doing was loading up with coca cola and beer, why couldn't they do that yesterday?! While we were waiting we managed to get lunch on the quay side (as they weren't open on the boat) and an ice cream for dessert. We got chatting to our fellow hammocker's, Gill and Davginson (a Student who was learning English by himself and we think his mother heard Davidson and made his name up) from Brazil and Ernest from Austria (they weren't travelling together). We also meet a couple from Melbourne (Julia and Dan) and 2 other guys from Sao Paulo, Andre and Abreu. Just before leaving port a boat pulled up to deliver some fuel but the pump broke so they were franticly trying to fix it so we could get under way. Once we'd left port we settled in, played cards with Ernest then had a snack and not long after went to bed in our nice comfy hammocks.

28th Oct.

Not a good night, had a child kicking me in the back for most of it and every time I moved I
knocked Cat. Have discovered this might be the kindergarten boat! The last boat was a cruise liner compared to this! We had something to eat from our supply then dozed in our hammocks for a few more hours. Lunchtime came and guess what, it was chicken, rice and spaghetti,
our favourite for R$10, so we went up to the bar to see what delights they had, a ham and cheese toasted sandwich for R$3 was all we were going to get here so that will have to suffice. Oh, but the loud Brazilian music was free! Had a bit of sun in the afternoon and believe it or not a cup of tea from the bar! Yes they sell tea on-board! Just before dinner time we got chatting to Julia and Dan, dinner was left over lunch for the same price so we had our sandwiches, we might have to get something else when we get to Santarem! After a nice cold shower we played cards with Ernest then tried to get some sleep.

29th Oct.

A better nights sleep even after a 2am loading of sacks of who knows what. We arrived into
Santarem at 10.30 (1 hour time change from 9.30) where Ernest and Gill got off. We met the captain (Douglas) who was a big African American from Georgia and allowed us to store some of our stuff in the bridge, (very nice chap) as we would be sitting here for at least 5hrs (till "3pm"), Cat and I headed into town to get some more previsions for the rest of the trip. We found a supermarket where we got a meal for lunch and some yoghurt, cheese bread and cake
for later. Tom from Oxford joined us and had met Zohar on the boat from Manaus to Santarem, (small world!). 10hrs later at 7.30pm we leave port, so much for leaving at 3! Not many people got back on so there was more room (for now) and as compensation for leaving late we did get free dinner, a bowl of soup with fatty beef and spaghetti. One crazy thing we saw on the boat was a new passenger decided to plug an extension lead from the shower running it along the walkway and plugging (using 2 wires and not a plug) a fan in on the deck. I tried to tell them how dangerous it was considering they put the extension socket under the door of the shower that Cat was in, to which I received abuse and was told to look where I was going (using sign language of cause)! Thankfully they did move it overhead and put the fan (with no fan guard) above their hammocks! We'll see if it's still there in the morning!

30th Oct.

Quite a few ports in the night, one at 2am, 4am and 6am so a bit of off and on sleeping. We
had our cheese rolls for breakfast then sat in the bar chatting to Andre, Abreu, Julia and Dan. After lunch (yummy meat pies) we arrived into a port called Almeirm where we had to walk the plank to get ashore and had an ice cream, we also saw some fishermen's catches one
being an armoured Catfish looking fish called a Baku. We thought we might be stuck here for a while as a boy on board was ill and his mother had taken him to the hospital, luckily he wasn't too bad and was back within an hour. One thing I do find depressing and it's the same the world over, is that people can't be bothered to put something in the bin, just watched a Brazilian guy throw a plastic cup into the river when there is a bin 5ft away! Spent the afternoon roasting in the sun and relaxing in our hammocks watching the rainforest go by. Fruit salad for dinner as we had a tin of peaches, yoghurt and apples to use.

31st Oct.

Up at 7.30 and we were coming into our penultimate port Breves where we should only be 1hr. Bread and jam for breakfast yay! Would you believe it, 1hr later and we're away on time, that's a first! Andre always seems to find something new for us to try, today it's tapioca roll with cheese, quite nice! We spent most of the day up stairs in the bar chatting and eating with Julia and Dan (we had a dry cheesy baguette and a carrot). We also swapped some movies with them and Dan kindly transferred my phone notes to SD card so that I don't have to spend time retyping the entries onto the laptop. After another beautiful sunset word got around that the boat company was giving this evenings meal for free again, so we went down and tucked into a beef soup with spaghetti which was pretty tasty, and we had our own chocolate muffins for dessert! It's been lets say an interesting boat trip, there's a Tina Turner look a like drunk that keeps letching onto any man within her reach, late leaving port for various reasons, the AC kept breaking down then it stopped altogether, and every now and then the lights go out but tonight it's happening more and more and for longer periods, which was nice as you could then see the stars. Can't wait until Belem!
The boat finally pulled into Belem at 1.30am so we decided to stay on the boat and get some sleep until morning.

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