Dec 31 2011
12/31/11 - 12/31/11
Dec 31 2011
• River pilot joins us for the trip to Manaus
• Traveling the Amazon river
Day on the Amazon on the way to Santarem. This morning at 7 a.m. the ship dropped anchor at Macapa Station to pick up pilots and local officials. The pilots will take us down the Amazon. I slept through this stop. Breakfast on the deck as usual.
I can’t begin to explain how awesome it feels to be on the Amazon. The air is warm but pleasant; there is a nice warm breeze aboard the ship. Other than the ship there is no noise The size of the river, the realization I’m in Brazil, it is almost overwhelming. It is a good place to be. An occasional moth-bat flies aboard but other than that we are not seeing people or animals. A few grasshoppers. It is warm, a little muggy. Partially cloudy. Sometimes we see a tributary off the Amazon. We learned in a lecture that people do not live along the Amazon but in villages a ways back from the river. The river rises during rainy season (starts Nov / Dec though today someone told us it is late this year) and the land along with river will be flooded.
Zen, our art teacher, calls the Amazon a “main artery of our planet”. I like that.
The river is very wide. At the mouth you can only see water. The mouth is 200 miles across and there is an island in the mouth that is the size of Switzerland and we can’t even see that when in the mouth. As we moved further into the river, there are jungle forests on each side. The river is brown. It gets its color from all the earth (that’s not the word but I can’t think of it) the river carries to the mouth. We see occasional barges and river boats. Other than that very quiet. The skies are slightly cloudy. The air is about 82 degrees and humid and the water is 83 degrees about noon. The world seems really huge and expansive on the Amazon.
Joan and I eat every meal possible outside. There is a formal dining room with servers that is indoors. The other dining area is upstairs where there is a buffet and also indoor or outdoor dining. We love eating outdoors. We have had three formal dinners (which are not that formal) but which are served in the dining room. That was for Captains night, Xmas ever and New Year’s Eve so far.
Joan and I had art class at 9 a.m. Zen Browne, who teaches art at Brooklyn Art Museum, is our teacher. He is a very interesting and helpful and lets us do whatever we want. We’ve been doing mostly water color. I’ve never done anything like this before and I find I’m really enjoying it. Today I painted the Amazon.
At 10:30 a.m. we had a class “From the Poles to the Tropics: Why Animals and Plants Live Where They do” by Dr. Schoenherr. He talked about weather and climate and how that affects animal and plant distribution. The Xingo dam in Brazil is one. Rocky calls climate change a social justice issue. He says he doesn’t talk about Polar Bears – the talks about people and what is happening to them due to global warming. Besides deforestation there’s a problem with people clearing enough land to sustain themselves. He sees sustainability as an issue of population control.
We had a pre-port class for Santareum Brazill and we told to bring water, hate, poncho (rainy season has started) sunscreen, hat, ziplock bag for camera and insect repellent.
In the intro we learned about Santareum and Brazil:
• 5,000,000 slaves were brought to Brazil
• Brazil had 50% of worlds slaves, the U.S. 5%
• 45% of Brazil’s population self-identifies as mixed race or black; .5 (1/2%) self identifies as indigenous. In the 1970’s Brazil’s census had people self-identify and there were 134 races identified. Racism exists in Brazil. It is more insidious than in the U.S. Brazil is 2nd blackest country in world, after Nigeria. Word for mixed race is “Mastisos”.
Was fun to greet the new year on the Amazon River.
(not complete, will finish later)