Booyakasha, Jungle is massive

Trip Start Aug 26, 2009
Trip End Jun 24, 2010

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Amazonas,
Thursday, December 10, 2009

The journey out of Venezuela was a little bit interesting.  First of all we got a taxi to the border and after stamping out of Venezuela went straight pass the Brazil entry without stopping, not the tight border security we had been expecting.  When we did finally get our visa we didn't need our yellow fever card or anything.  To get to Manaus we needed to get to Boa Vista and get a bus.  We found a collectivo going there and hopped in with three other people, the driver was quite possible the most suicidal driver I have seen, and that includes all the moto drivers in Asia as well.  He drove at about 100km/h zig-zagging around potholes and when he got to town carried on screaming to through the streets so much so that even the locals were looking at him as if he was insane.  We were happy to get out and catch our bus to Manaus which was thankfully straight forward and calmly driven.

Manaus was a large if not too interesting town where we launched our trip to the Amazon with the super chatty Gero.  It took us a taxi, boat, van and another boat to get into the Amazon. We stayed in some huts on the bank of one of the rivers that connects to the Amazon, they weren't exactly luxury but they were clean and, apart from one tarantula and some pirahnas, mainly without wildlife.  Our first activity was to go pirahna fishing in boats, our 'fishing rods' consisted of some wood a line and a raw chunk of chicken on a hook.  The trick was to yank the rod out of the water as soon as you felt a bite. Jemma caught one early on and about half the group managed it, sadly Tim only caught a sardine and then Jemma caught another pirahna to show off, but then Tim caught Jemma with a hook through the thumb so it was pretty much a score draw.

That night we went out Caiman spotting (cousins of crocodiles) with torches, we couldn't see a thing but our guide seemed to be able to spot them a mile off.  Once we were close he jumped out of the boat and grabbed them so we could take a look, he taught us a little about them and then we all posed for photos with them.  The only other danger at night in the river appears to be the monkeyfish that jump out of the water, one gringo got slapped in the face by one.

The next day we went trekking into the jungle to learn about the plant life of the amazon and some jungle survival skills.  It is hard to describe all the cool plants and trees we saw, but one of our favourites was a long trunk with no leaves that when you shook it all the branches and leaves came out and it looked a bit like a palm tree.  We also got to try eating the grubs ala 'I'm a celebrity get me out of here', to be fair they didn't taste too bad, a bit like nuts and coconut milk, although Jemma wasn't so keen on the texture.  We were also treated to some good ol' amazon style rain, how can it be so hot when it is raining?

That night we slept out in hammocks in the middle of the jungle.  Our guide made us a chicken dinner using a bamboo spit sort of thing (see photos) and some cocktails out of pineapple and some crazy local rum made from sugar cane, it was potent.  Staying in the jungle wasn't nearly as bad as we thought with bugs and stuff like that but the noises were incredible, they didn't sound real.  The biggest noise we heard was from packs of howler monkeys vying for territory, they are well named as it sounds like an animal version of loud gale force winds sweeping through the jungle.

Next morning, happy that we had survived unscathed, we went to see a local shaman to learn about how village life works for the natives.  The best part of seeing him is that he had a pet monkey and a sloth, they are the strangest creatures to hold.  It is like holding something made of wood because their skin is so hard and their fur is very bristly, but they make the funniest faces.  We asked why the monkey was tied up, apparently he had been naughty and was biting some visitors, in retaliation her mate was ripping up washing on the other side of the house.  The shaman was a hilarious guy who told us all about the plants he uses in medicines and how teenagers become of age (by putting their arm into a tree trunk full of fire ants) and as soon as they pass the test they go and get a wife.

Jemma got fully submerged into the culture by letting the shaman paint her in traditional face paint. We then all had to do some dancing and singing just like the locals would, except they would know the words and probably had about ten times as much rhythm as the pack of europeans jerking their way around the dance circle. We also got to taste some of his mangoes straight from the tree. Yum!

This was our last visit and it was soon time to take the boat/bus/boat trip back into Manaus.  Our next leg was to fly to Fortaleza and on to Jericoacoara.

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southnclarke on

WOW WOW WOW !!!!! You just keep amazing us. Your story telling is superb, really feel like we've been there & seen it all with you. You have to bring home a sloath, it's your dads favorite animal. Glad to see the South fishing talent hasn't skipped a generation, go Jemma.
Missing you loads & loads, will speak soon
All our love Dad & Debs

jttours on

Check out the 'moving picture', just for you Dad.

lisypoo80 on

Pics are amazing!! Poor Tim only catching a sardine!! Jem I don't believe you ate it, I just don't!! Nooooo!! Miss you skype soon xxxxxxxxxxx

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