Trip Start Feb 22, 2009
Trip End Mar 31, 2009

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Amazonas,
Friday, March 20, 2009

It's been a while since I last wrote, and plenty has happened!!

After Fortaleza(which ended up not being so bad because we ate an entire plate of excellent prawns fried in olive oil and garlic, and drank mango juice) we flew on to Santarém in the Amazon. Spent 3 nights there waiting for our boat ride to Manaus. Was a quiet city, with not a whole lot to see, but a nice river and a cute little town which apparently in the dry season has a white sand beach on the amazon(no such luck in the rainy season though...). There we took a tour with a couple of people we met along the way and climbed a hill with a lovely view of the rivers. The amazon(and accompaning rivers) remind me more of the Puget Sound(with rainforest of course) than of a river. SO much water and space. Hard to wrap my mind around it actually.
That night we drank caipirinhas with our new friends at a little bar with live music. The next day we left on our boat.

The Boat:
Big, 3 stories, one large room for hammocks. Packed in like little sardines, hammocks above, below, next to, lights on all night, LOUD brazilians(i think brazilians are actually louder than americans if possible...) nothing to do all day except talk to other travelers, sit in hammocks, drink beer, play cards, watch for dolphins and nap. This was good, because sleep was more than elusive...
Mid-way through the trip one of the engines died out, and we slowly drifted backwards(downstream) into a tree:-) funny affair. Luckily we were pulled out by a big boat driving by-back on our way in less than an hour! miracle! but of course slower this time as we had only one motor running.
the rest of the trip went smoothly until we had entered Manaus at 1:30 in the morning, probably 30 minutes from the dock(10 minute swim from land) and we ran out of gas! we ended up arriving at 4 am...

The next day we left for our Jungle trip with a couple of new friends we met on the boat and our guide Tarzan.
What fun! The first day we saw crocodiles, pink dolphins, sloths(held one!), monkeys, tarantulas, piranhas, butterflies, lots of birds and LOTS of trees!

we spent the night in a lodge with a gigantic fire spider and ate what was still delicious food.(i cant see another plate of fish, rice and beans...) the next day we left for our jungle camp out. Frightening, but so exciting! after going in the motor canoe about 2 hours we arrived at this little tributary, and the guides began to literaly build our camp from several trees they cut down. We were in charge of fire(semi-succesful!) and we watched in awe as they built a shelter, bench, made string, built a table and cooked an entire chicken over the fire(improved by Tarzan and Branco..) we slept(or shall I say didnt sleep...) that night in Hammocks strung to our new shelter with images of mosquitos, tarantulas and panthers running through our heads.
The next morning we took a hike through the jungle. It was amazing how much practical knowledge of the plants in the jungle our guide had! we were almost like blind people walking through as our guides would point things out to us that we would never in a million years have seen. We went piranha fishing and Andi caught one. I went piranha feeding. we ate them an hour later:-)
The next night we spent with an indigenous family. Of course with houses (albeit electricity-less) and regular clothes. That night we went crocodile catching in the pouring rain. I was terrified. Andi had fun, and held a crocodile(but didnt catch any).

Now we are back in Manaus, and had a decent nights sleep for the first time in a week. Manaus is a huge city (pop. 2 million) in the middle of the amazon. Bizarre, I think there is maybe one highway (mud road?) connecting it to the rest of the world(not counting the rivers). Its not particulary charming or beautiful, but has some interesting sights we will hopefully see today.

Tomorrow we fly to Sao Paulo.
more news as it comes

ps added photos to the entries "Santarem" and "Dune Buggy" too
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