A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Linda K

Manaus, Brazil - almost 1,000 miles from the mouth of the Am

rain

On the way to Manaus

On the way to Manaus

Meeting of waters  - Amazon River and Rio Negro

Meeting of waters - Amazon River and Rio Negro

Meeting of waters Rio Negro and Amazon

Meeting of waters Rio Negro and Amazon

Meeting of waters Rio Negro (darker) and Amazon (lighter)

Meeting of waters Rio Negro (darker) and Amazon (lighter)

Meeting of waters Rio Negro and Amazon (lighter color)

Meeting of waters Rio Negro and Amazon (lighter color)

Meeting of waters, Rio Negro and Amazon

Meeting of waters, Rio Negro and Amazon

Rio Negro

Rio Negro

On the Rio Negro

On the Rio Negro

Manaus riverboat guide to Eco Lodge

Manaus riverboat guide to Eco Lodge

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Manaus

Manaus

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Raining -- pull down the blue tarps

Raining -- pull down the blue tarps

On the way to Eco-lodge

On the way to Eco-lodge

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Near Eco-lodge

Near Eco-lodge

Lobby of Eco-lodge

Lobby of Eco-lodge

my bed

my bed

Crocheted run on the floor in my room

Crocheted run on the floor in my room

Amoire in my room

Amoire in my room

At the bar - parrot flew in and was trying to drink Garth's beer

At the bar - parrot flew in and was trying to drink Garth's beer

Caiman in hand

Caiman in hand

Joan at Eco-lodge

Joan at Eco-lodge

me at Eco-lodge

me at Eco-lodge

91-DSCN4241.jpgLecture notes re Climate Change, World Bank, Economics:[/b]

Good lectures this morning on the SAS program, pre-port Manaus and Global “Weirding” as the lecturer called it. Mike Maniates gave a talk on “Brazil, Small Island Nations and Climate Change”. He discussed that less developed/poor countries will suffer more than the rich economies. And of course the rich economies like the U.S. and Europe use more of the world’s resources. There is a “Coalition of Small Island Nations” with no power but a strong moral claim. There is a poor world coalition which includes Brazil, India China and So Africa. They didn’t cause the problem of global weather change but will the results in “the shorts”. The U.S., Canada and Australia use most resources. China has surpassed the U.S. in emission but a high percentage of that is to make stuff they export to the U.S. If you believe the scientists that a 2% change in CO2 will change the world then an 80% reduction of Co2 is needed. The loss of sea ice has accelerated climate change faster than any scientists predicted. India and poor countries see control of CO2 as imperialism – rich world telling them what to do. Some groups work has show the U.S. owns 33% of the Co2 problem, Europe 25% and the third world suffers the most from climate change since rain feeds agriculture and they have no money for seawalls and oceans rise. There is talk of a “Climate Development Fund” so rich countries would help others and those credits would reduce our debt to others. The “Climate Development Fund” would be used to even this out – we know the U.S. won’t reduce CO2 by 33% so we would pay to help countries that are suffering because of us.

Contrary to what people in the U.S think, we give little foreign aide. People in the U.S. when polled think the U.S. gives 30% of budget to foreign aide; people when polled think we should give 5% to foreign aide; but we really give only 1% for foreign aide.

The economic might of the planet is heading east. IMF, World Bank built for U.S. and Europe. U.S. has veto power. India, Brazil, Viet Nam, So Africa and China have decided they have to go alone. This brings “multi-polarity”. Makes global cooperation more difficult. The major game in town now is climate negotiation. Obama has signed on the Global Exchange Initiative but not funded it (and he won’t until after the election).

Semester at Sea board and admins

It costs about $25,000 for a student to do Semester-at-Sea, earning a full semester of college credits and sailing around the world. SAS's educational component is run by the U of Virginia. On those voyages the average age is 22. On our Enrichment voyage the average age is 55 and that includes the three groups of students that are on board. Student scholarships are available. SAS just tried to break even on SAS program -- SAS is a non-profit. 1/3 of the cost of operation of the ship goes to underpaid faculty.


About Manaus:

Manaus is almost 1,000 miles from the mouth of the Amazon River. It is accessible only by plane or boat. It has 2 million people. It sits at the confluence of the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes, forming the Amazon proper. The two rivers flow side by side for many miles, different in color, mixing in eddies, “the meeting of the waters”. It grew during the rubber boom in the beginning of the 19th century. Some of our friends got to tour a “company town” built by DuPont or one of the big rubber companies and preserved as it was in the 30’s. On deck as we arrive at Manuas I'm on the deck thinking I wish I could bring the smell back -- it is a musty, warm pleasant smell. An earthy and pleasant smell. It it windy and overcast today. It is another "pinch me" moment as the ship moves into the Rio Negro, a tributary of the Amazon. The water is literally coffee colored with a brown froth against the boat. It was exhilarating to be on deck for the meeting of the waters.

Malaria:

Before we left the U.S. most of us were given Malaria meds by our doctors, clinics or public health districts. Earlier this week the ship doctor spoke on Malaria and the side effects of the drugs. I don’t remember his stats but I think he said in 20 years they have had one case of Malaria on the ship and that was a student. He suggested using our Deet (the nasty stuff) when in the jungle at sunrise and dusk (when the mosquitoes are out) but did not encourage us to use malaria meds. Joan and I and most of the people we talked to passed on the Malaria meds.

Brazil and oil:

Rocky spoke on oil and Brazil in the pre-port talk: 90% of new vehicles sold in Manaus are flexing – gas or ethanol. Ethanol from sugar cane is huge in Brazil. Didn’t go the “corny” route of production as U.S. (political choice in U.S. due to clout of “corn” states). Sugarcane, for one unit of energy, puts 8 units out. Corn barely gets more energy out that it takes to make it. Per speaker Rocky, after 70’s Arab oil embargo their motto is not “Drill baby drill” but “grow baby grow”.

I didn’t go outside for lunch because of the bugs on ship at Manaus. Ate a crowded early lunch as we are prepared to disembark. The ship was late – at least by an hour – docking in Manaus and then disembarking took a long time. Our 1 pm trip left about 2:30 pm I think.

Arriving Manaus
:

Just before arriving in Manaus, I was out on the outside deck watching the arrival. I wasn’t expecting this but witnessed the meeting of the waters for the Amazon and Rio Negro. The two rivers don’t mix for a long time due to several reasons, one of them being the acidity, which is what makes the Rio Negro black. It was absolutely amazing to watch. There is literally a line in the water, like a line in the sand, between the two bodies. The frothy wake around the ship, now that we are going up the Rio Negro, is coffee colored instead of white. It is such an amazing site. The Rio Negro is huge also –reminds one of the Amazon except for the color. We barely get into the Rio Negro and we are at Manaus.

Eco-lodge in Jungle:
Today we headed for an overnight at the Eco-lodge. We were met at the ship by a boat which had open sides and two levels that held 100 of us. Boarding was difficult as we disembarked from the fifth level of the ship down a long stairway and then had to climb some wooden steps up and down in the boat. Then another flight of narrow steps to the top of an open air ship. Our guide was a Brazilian man who spoke good English. We all had overnight bags with us so we were loaded up. We barely got underway and the rain started (rainy season here!). It poured and there was thunder and lightning. Soon the blue plastic (yes, even here in the Amazon) tarps along the sides of the boats were lowered to protect us from the rain. The rain poured into the boat in other ways and was running under our feet and chairs on the wooden decks so we loaded our bags onto our laps. Wild ride. Took 1.5 hours. Towards the end, the rain let up and we could pull up the tarps to see the landscape. Felt better and less claustrophobic. Manaus is on the Rio Negro, a HUGE tributary of the Amazon. The Rio Negro water is black. From the Rio Negro we went into another tributary and then another to the eco-lodge. By this time the river is not really wide and there is high grass on the sides of the river, so I’m thinking it is not very deep.

As we rode the guide told us much about Manaus and the area. Very interesting and he spoke very good English. The highlights are in my notebook! One interesting item, after the rubber trade bubble burst (by England I believe) moving rubber production to Persia (I believe), devastating Manaus’ economy with reduced rubber prices in another part of the world. The Brazilian government eventually created a free trade zone in Manaus in the 50’s and 60’s and Manaus now has 500 factories. The guide maintains that most of them are electronic factories so they are greener than most factories. Honda motorcycles employs 11,000 people in Manaus. Harley Davidson has its only non-U.S. factory in Manaus. He mentioned many other companies, including Sony and those types of companies.

We went under a large bridge that connects Manaus to the 3rd largest city in Amazon region -- a city of 100,000. The bridge was just completed in the last 4 months.

Some facts from the river guide as we went up the Rio Negro in a smaller boat to the Eco-Lodge.
• Here is the biggest National Park in the world
• Biggest fish estuary in the islands in the Rio-Negro and Amazon
• Rio Negro is 98% preserved -- lots of national parks. Balsa forest, eco-systems.
• Two seasons -- rainy and dry.
• No Dengue fever at Rio Negro -- acid water - mosquitoes don't like. No malaria.
• Indian reservations on the Rio Nego. Biggest reservation in South America.
• Other people are forbidden to go there.
• Brazil rain forest is 4 million sq miles. There are 6 million sq miles in Brazil. 60% of Brazil is the Amazon region.
• Taper is largest animal in rain forest -- big as a big or a small cow
• Insects and bugs are bio-diversity. About 80 million types live in the forest canopy.
• Beetles fly and can be 5" high.
• 100 years ago Manaus was rubber capital of the world. England moved rubber trade to Asia.
• In 1967 Manaus was declared a free port; 500 factories here; Honda makes motorcyles. 11,000 employees.
• 90% of factories are electronics like Sony.
• Rio Negro supports 500 kinds of fish (River of hunger)
• Amazon supports 2000 kinds of fish, more than the Atlantic.
• Guide - 13 days by boat to his place near Columbia Peru
• Sleep in boats -- there are hooks, you bring your hammock and sleep there. 5 x more expensive to get a cabin.
• Amazon is biggest tropical forest. Siberia has biggest forest in world but it has only 1 type of tree. Amazon forest has 40,000 plants and trees.
• Thames river transports in 1 year what Amazon transports in 1 second – 400 cubic meter in 1 second out of the mouth of the river.
• Amazon is young river. Erosion makes new islands; others disappear.
• Colors is due to sediment. 100,000 tons per day head to the coast. French Guyana is growing.
• Longest and most volume of any river in world. It starts in Peru. Amazon follows equator. (Linda: The Rio Negro is a tributary of the Amazon and other than the Amazon, it is the biggest river I’ve ever seen).
• “Talma (sp) river is the next tributary of the Rio Negro that we are traveling on and then one more tributary to get to the Eco Lodge. 1.5 hour ride from Manaus.
• Lots of rich people in Manaus. Also see many rich people living on boats in tributaries. He mentioned Tamsu river. Less storms in tributories. Corrupt mayor lives there. He supports education, at least. Guide believes people will continue to make better choices at election time.
• Guide stated, just as Anna (Santarem guide), that if people have food, they are not poor. We may think people look poor, but if they have food they are not poor.
• Corruption is getting better in Brazil – finally some prosecution of crimes.
• Gas stations are in the river – floating
• Brazil doesn’t import oil. Cost of gas is $2.80 per liter or $7 per gallon.

Upon arrival at the Eco-lodge, we walked up hill on a sandy beach to the hotel lobby which is open to the air. We had a glass of juice and then went to our cabins. Mine was part of a three-plex. You walk through the jungle along paths with cabins which are duplex and triplex type rooms nestled along the path. It is dark as the trees are high and form a canopy in the jungle. Joan is in the triplex next to mine. The rooms are small with a double bed, nice lighting, a small bath/shower, an armoire. Wooden floors. No hairdryer (I noticed right away!). The room has a small porch and shutters (with screens ) than can be opened to let air in the room. It gets dark about 6 pm. We headed for the open air bar for a drink before Cayman hunting. As we stood at the bar, the neighborhood parrot swooped in and walked around the bar, walked over to the container holding lemons or something, knocked the lid off it. Tried to drink from someone’s drink. Pretty funny. We had a glass of wine to prepare for night boat ride to hunt Caimans.

Caiman hunting on the river:
We went to the lobby to start our Caiman (Alligator) search in the night. It was still raining with some lightening. We waited a while and soon boarded the motorized canoes (they call them). The boats are wooden, flat bottomed and wooden and hold about 5 bench seats. We had two guides, young Brazilian men, one at one end running a motor with a propeller on a long arm and a propeller on the end. They seem to hold it high in the water. One guide is in the front of the boat with shorts and thongs and a light to look for the Caiman. The Caiman have red eyes when light shines on them. We took off. Other than the putt-putt of the small motor and the light of the fellow at the front of the boat, it is very quiet and dark in the jungle with lots of jungle noises. We went down the tributary and came across a pair of red eyes. They cut the motor and then try to close in on the Caiman, pulling it out of the water (and then returning it to the water again). Our guide never caught a Cayman but another boat had so we ended up meeting up with them where we could all get a good look (or a good hold if you were willing) on the Cayman. I have told my traveling friends that I felt like I was in a movie – it didn’t seem real – out on the tributary of the river, pitch black in a small boat looking for Cayman. The evening is steamy because of the rain, it is very dark and we are surrounded by jungle. Whew. About 8 pm we arrived back on the beach. Headed for the open-air dinner in the dining room.

Dinner and to bed:

We had a very nice evening buffet dinner with rice, chicken, beef, bread, salads and vegetables. We used our flashlights to find our cabins in the dark in the jungle. The jungle comes alive at night with sounds and it was wonderful. I opened the shutters in my room (screened) to sleep with the jungle sounds. Slept well even though I forgot to bring PJ’s as we brought only and overnight bag with us. I had to sleep in a t-shirt. Luckily I had an extra one – sweaty Deet clothes – ick! The shower was basic with no metal pipes but a small plastic hose. The bathroom was tiled and very clean. One towel only. The floor was wooden with a pretty crocheted rug. Will post a picture of the cabin. Found out the next day that some people had some rather large bugs in their room – one fellow chased it under the bed and then went to sleep. Oh my gosh – glad it wasn’t in my room: I would have had to sit on the porch all night. As if there aren’t bugs out there too, huh?

Posted by Linda K 14:32 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Home

Jan 12 2012

overcast

Last breakfast on ship

Last breakfast on ship

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Up for another sunrise by accident but it was good! Breakfast and then waiting for U.S. customs to clear us for disembarking. Took pictures of our arrival at Ft Lauderdale and the pilot boats arriving. Seagulls arrived also.

We disembarked about 9 a.m., went quickly through customs, took a shuttle to the airport which was close by and then a day of flying. I got home about 10 p.m.

Some comments:

It was nice to have my own room on the ship. Joan felt the same. They are small and it is nice to have a get-away when traveling with so many people. There were movies playing on the TV. The TV is very small and it wasn't particularly easy to watch but at least there was some noise. Some of the speakers were taped into the rooms also.

As I've unpacked I'm surprised how many bar receipts I have. Happy hour on the ship was fun, a good break between activities before dinner.

The food was probably the only thing I would change if possible. By the end of the voyage the dinners tasted the same. For breakfast I usually had oatmeal, fresh watermelon and coffee; sometimes some eggs and bacon or pancakes and french toast. For lunch, we had choices of entrees or salad or sandwiches. Many choices and it worked well. For dinner we usually had pasta, meat, always green salad and usually another salad. The smell was usually garlicky. For some reason, dinner wasn't as appealing to me. The food is not like luxury cruise food. There is plenty of it and it is nicely prepared. I'm not sure how to change the dinners to make the better.

I thought I would read more books. As it turns out I got about 1/3 the way through the "Lost City of Z".

Rui, one of our guides, has the recipe for rum punch on the back of his name tag!

The average age on the ship was 55. That includes the students from Moorhouse College in Atlanta, the students from Piedmont and the high school students from three areas on the U.S. We met a person in her 90's, many in their 80's and of course below that. Many single people. Many repeat Enrichment cruise people.

The staff on the ship was incredibly nice. The waiters, the room stewards, the administration -- everyone was so helpful and friendly.

The ship was VERY clean. They work very hard to keep it looking really nice.

I don't think I ever saw a mosquito, despite all the alarm.

I can see why the Amazon is called the "River Sea". What a magnificent river. I feel so lucky to have seen it and traveled on it. Really lucky!

We traveled 6800 miles by ship at speeds up to 30 knots. We visited eight countries. We traveled almost 1,000 miles up the Amazon from the mouth to Manaus, Brazil.

If you have children or grandchildren, consider sending them for a "Semester at Sea".

I've never been on a trip where I did NOT want to come home. Usually by the end of a trip I'm winding down and anxious to see what is going on at home. This trip was different. I truly did not want it to end. I loved almost everything about it.

Posted by Linda K 15:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

At Sea on the M.V. Explorer, heading home

Jan 11, 2012

sunny

189-DSCN4824.jpg190-DSCN4832.jpgI set my alarm for sunrise today. First time I've been up for sunrise, something I wanted to do before I left the ship. Light clouds in the sky made sunrise even better. Nice time of morning. Fun to watch the ship "wake-up". On Deck 7 they offer coffee and sweetrolls at 6 a.m. before the dining buffet opens. Nothing beats coffee outside in the morning!

Today was a busy day. Julian Bond spoke at 1:30 on "Crossing the Color Line: From Rhythm 'n Blues to Rock and Roll". He played music between speaking and even did a little dancing on a rolling ship.

This afternoon we listened to "Island Life" by one of the professors in the Glazer Lounge. At 5 pm the Road Scholar group we came with had a cocktail party in the Glazer Lounge. I drank two Mimosas and ate plenty of potstickers and other appetizers. Next stop was our last dinner on the ship so we decided to go to the dining room. I had a snickers bar earlier today and then chocolate chip cookies at "tea time", a daily event. Add to that drinks and potstickers and I couldn't hardly face dinner. I ate a baked potato and even passed on dessert. Talk about making yourself sick!

At 7:45 in the Union Lounge we had two slide shows. One was some of the pictures people had posted to the intranet -- their favorite photos. The next one was photos from the ship photographer about our journey.

Today we packed up our bags to prepare for tomorrow mornings departure. Mine is bulging at the seams but I managed to get everything inside it. Took pictures of people and the ship as this is the last chance. After being up at sunrise, was tired tonight. Will miss not sleeping on the ship. It is hard to imagine returning home.

Posted by Linda K 22:33 Comments (0)

At Sea on the M.V. Explorer, heading to U.S.

Jan 10 2012

sunny

123-DSCN4404.jpg128-DSCN4425.jpgTwo days at sea to savor before arriving at Ft Lauderdale.

After breakfast on the deck, went to art class with Zen Browne. This will be my last watercolor class. Tomorrow will be open studio time but I'm going to enjoy being outside instead of inside painting. We were given large water color journals when we started the class. My goal was to have a watercolor from each day. Needless to say, that didn't happen. I have very few but I have enjoyed doing as much as I have. Today I drew six squares and put two colors inside each square that reminded me of a place. I.e. brown and blue is entry to the Amazon and yellow and green is St Kitts because of the bright building setting at the end of the dock. It is very simple but I like it. I like messing with the colors.

Many speakers were offered on ship today from Charlie Clarkson, the bird expert to Rita Dove, former poet laureate of U.S. I decided to skip classes and just enjoy being outside on the ship.

The food had become a little monotonous so today we had lunch on the pool deck where you can get hamburgers. We ended up playing the poolside trivia game. We had four at our table and did better than the last time where Joan and I (on our own) were dead last in the competition. Roy Yates, who manages events on the Ship and who we really like, was bold enough to announce that we were dead last in the trivia game!!

There is a monk on board who runs a meditation class in the mornings in the Glazer Lounge. We finally stopped in and did enjoy it. He has large attendance and lot of admirers.

We signed up for a bridge tour late afternoon. It was interesting and, to me, kind of surprising how much stuff seems to be done manually. There is someone on watch at all times. We passed a tiny sailboat the other day and we wondered how it maneuvers the sea and if they accidently come into the path of large ships at times. The M.V. Explorer is one of the fast cruise ships. At times we traveled at 30 knots, which doesn't mean much to me.

Tonight was a seated dinner for the Captains Farewell Reception. We don't particularly like these as one has to eat in the dining room (inside) and dress up a little bit. We sat with a fun group of people, shared some wine and ate shrimp scampi. Turned out be be a nice evening. After that there was a reception with the Captain in the Union Lounge -- best part is you get a free glass of wine.

Entertainment tonight was Madeline and Humberto Sales. Humberto is Brazilian and married to American Madeline. She sings, he plays the guitar. Nice music.

Setting our clocks back again.

Posted by Linda K 14:22 Comments (0)

Dominica

Jan 9 2012

sunny

Dominica

Dominica

Dominica

Dominica

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Cute boat worker

Cute boat worker

Dominica

Dominica

me and Joan on the whale spotting boat in Dominica

me and Joan on the whale spotting boat in Dominica

matching ankle bracelets

matching ankle bracelets

Dominica

Dominica

Our ship

Our ship

me and our ship in Dominica

me and our ship in Dominica

Political sign in Dominica

Political sign in Dominica

Dominica

Dominica

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Dominica

Dominica

Dominica

Dominica

We arrived in Roseau, Dominica this morning about 8 a.m. We had to tender into shore because there was no room for our ship at the docks. Disembarking took a while. We walked to the dock where we were to meet the boat to take us whale watching only to find out our boat had left earlier with the wrong crew (all those cruise ship people look alike). We had a wait on the dock but Joan and I took an opportunity to shop for some jewelry at the little market near the dock. Got some great necklaces for $8. Made from bamboo and brightly colored.

Eventually we got on the boat and went to look for Sperm whales. Evidently this is one of the few places that one can see them. After several tries, we ended up not seeing Sperm whales but we did see dolphins. The dolphins loved the wake of the boat and played in the wake. Fun to watch. Most of the people snorkled off the boat. People loved it. I didn't do it. Was a little seasick too. Because our boat was late, they brought lunch aboard and we ate on the boat and had more rum punch. We had to be back on the ship by 3 pm.

I always enjoy watching the ship leave port. We had dinner on the outside deck as usual.

Dominica sounds like an interesting island -- it has the world's largest boiling lake. The island has rain forest and some dry areas. Wish we could spend more time on the islands.

Posted by Linda K 10:39 Archived in Dominica Comments (0)

Barbados

Jan 8 2012

sunny

Full moon on Barbados

Full moon on Barbados

home Barbados

home Barbados

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Barbados

Barbados

Barbados

Barbados

Barbados

Barbados

Barbados

Barbados

Barbados

Barbados

Barbados

Barbados

Home in Barbados

Home in Barbados

Barbados

Barbados

Barbados

Barbados

home in Barbados

home in Barbados

home in Barbados

home in Barbados

Lunch and more rum punch!

Lunch and more rum punch!

Lunch place Barbados

Lunch place Barbados

Sugar cane Barbados

Sugar cane Barbados

Two rum punch!

Two rum punch!

Rum punch before lunch

Rum punch before lunch

Back into the 4 x 4's.  This is our driver

Back into the 4 x 4's. This is our driver

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African snail - real best in Barbados

African snail - real best in Barbados

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Gully Barbados

Gully Barbados

Tour of Welchman Gully

Tour of Welchman Gully

January 8 2012

  • 4 x 4's and rum punch before noon
  • Gully hike
  • Barbados is one of my favorites.
  • Not ready to go home!

This morning I was on deck having breakfast when the Explorer arrived at Barbados. I’ve read that Barbados is a well-developed island. It looks like it from outside the island. A huge blue and yellow tug met us and a large rope was transferred from our ship to the tug. Somehow we got positioned at some bulkheads with two other large cruise ships. Other than Nassau Bahamas, this is the first time we have encountered large cruise ships in a port.

The water here is the green-turquoise I remember from a trip I took to the Caribbean in the early 90’s on a cruise ship. The sky is blue, there is a light breeze, the water is turquoise, the coffee and oatmeal is good and I’m surrounded by voices of lots of new ship-friends. I sat there this morning thinking I have to figure out how to get one of the Explorer’s round-the-world-trips into my budget. I woke this morning about 5 a.m. and tried to stay awake to enjoy the rocking of the ship. It is such a pleasant way to sleep – the sound of the engines and the gentle rocking (even if the beds are pancake thin and the pillows not to my specifications).

Today we are taking a ride in 4 x 4’s that hold 10 people, have roll bars and seat-belts and they have told people not to come if they have back or heart problems. It is called a Naturalist Field excursion. We will do some hiking, visit Welchman Hall Gully and see a wildlife reserve Will report back later….. I'm back. What a full day. The 4 x 4's hold six in the back with a canopy on the vehicle. Our Road Scholar guide rode with the driver in front. Our first visit was to Welchman Gully. A gully is a cave where the top has caved in. It was so cool. Very deep into the earth and seemed like a rain forest with tall tall trees. Barbados has many many caves and the woman who manages the gully and lead our group said there was another cave under the gully we were walking through. It was a beautiful walk and we saw new trees and plants and birds. Our guide was happy to be back in Barbados and managing the Gully which she leases from the government. She charges people to walk through it and has four stuff who with her keep the Gully in good environmental condition. Right now the African snail which arrived five years ago is eating lots of the vegetation and that is a huge project for her and her staff.

The Gully land is leased from the government and managed by a woman named Debby who had degrees in botany and ecology from the England and Canada. She has a parent from Canada and one from Barbados. We were lucky enough to have her lead our group. Learned much about the plants, the five-year old invasion of African snails that are causing huge problems in Barbados and eating plants. The vegetation was bigger than stuff we saw in the rain forest. We walked about a mile in the Gully. After that the guides offered us “medicinal rum” and before you know it we had a big jug of medicinal rum in our jeep. We had fun and laughs as we all loosened up a little with the rum.

When we got back in the 4 x 4's the driver offered us drinks of rum punch. It was so good. And we had a second round. The next thing you know six quietly traveling tourists were talking and laughing and getting to know each other. Odd how rum punch works. Our next stop was at a plantation where we had a buffet lunch outdoors. Very nice place which was decorated like there was a big party! We then toured the island in our 4 x 4's. The roads are narrow and windy and the driver honks the horn at curves so people know he is coming. We had beautiful views of the Atlantic, saw the homes and neighborhoods of the island and

We drove over most of the island today. Barbados is the most beautiful island we have been to. It is tidy and the vegetation is lush. It is the farthest eastern island; the next stop is Africa. Also it is surrounded by the Atlantic. Once side has rougher seas and one side calmer. It has hills and is really quite beautiful. Banana groves, cane fields, etc.

After the Gully we had lunch at a plantation. Outdoors, decorated and festive. Buffet. Good food. And more rum.

We drove about 45 minutes, stopping for pictures at many spots on the island.

Tonight was the staff talent show. Not too exciting but some musicians in the group. Also the costume show. What a wild event -- you'd be surprised at the costumes people pack so they can take part in the costume show.

Re the beds: I was helping Joan look for something she’d lost in her room. We were looking under the beds…oh my gosh….think mattresses. Kind of hard. But many people here say they find them comfortable. I had a stiff neck at first –not sure if that was from working to keep myself upright on the ship or from the pillows. But I’ve adapted.

My room steward is Achiles and he is from the Philippines. He has been around the world an incredible four times. We talked to one young bartender who is from Bombay. He has the absolute best smile and the cutest personality. He is 25 and has been around the world four times.
The ship has seven floors. We can access two through seven. Joan and I have rooms on floor three. We are about mid-ship – almost directly opposite each other in different halls. There are three sets of stairs and two sets of elevators that serve the upper floors. Joan and I only use the stairs. She says there are 50 stairs to get to Deck 6 which is where we eat, use computer, listen to lectures, go to classes, etc. She estimates we make the trip 7 times a day. And she has decided that is worth a BILLION calories. So we keep eating dessert two or three times a day. Haven’t seen a scale on the ship!

I feel regrets about coming home. I have never been on a trip where I didn’t know what day of the week it is. I know the date because it is on the ship schedule but often the day of the week is not printed. What is odd is that it doesn’t seem to matter. I am usually ready to head home towards the end of a trip. I don’t feel ready to go home yet. Wonder if that will change in the next few day.

Guide notes:
• Last hurricane in Barbados was in 1955
• Gully we visited was 15 acres. Collapsed cave is due to crack in earth. Gullies are a water source as there is often acquifier underneath
• Barbados was deforested for sugar cane.
• Animals are watered at the gully
• They have had rainy season for two years now.
• Island is surrounded by Atlantic ocean.
• Guide pointed to Oprah’s house on the hill there.
• Top five (?) in literacy
• No such thing as DUI; 2nd in drinking.
• House on windy cheap side of island $70K; other side 500K
• All beaches are public.
• Government pays people to collect snails but no one wants to do it

Posted by Linda K 10:14 Archived in Barbados Comments (0)

Trinidad

Jan 7 2012

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Water in Trinidad

Water in Trinidad

Trinidad

Trinidad

cool bird

cool bird

Caiman on branch  - Waterfowl trust in Trinidad

Caiman on branch - Waterfowl trust in Trinidad

Trinidad - Country's bird

Trinidad - Country's bird

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Monkey god

Monkey god

Ashram

Ashram

Funeral pyres

Funeral pyres

Temple in the Sea - Trinidad

Temple in the Sea - Trinidad

Trinidad

Trinidad

Our guide in Trinidad, Sherry Ann

Our guide in Trinidad, Sherry Ann

Trinidad

Trinidad

January 7 2012

  • Port of Spain, Trinidad
  • Wild Life sanctuary located at Oil Refinery.
  • Visit temples, one a temple in the sea

Breakfast on deck as usual This morning we arrive at Port of Spain, Trinidad. I just happened to be eating at a table near the edge of the ship and saw the Pilot boat speeding towards our ship. In a split second it seems, the pilot jumps on board our ship and the Pilot boat takes off. Trinidad is a well-developed island. As we pulled in we could see some skyscrapers and some new hotels. There is a mountain (hill) range around the town and along the island. Looking at the city, from the water it looks like any large city.

We disembarked about 10 a.m. at Port of Spain which is the capital of Trinidad. We were met by buses to take us on today’s trips.

We had a beautiful guide with “locks”. Towards the end of the day she showed us how she uses a tool like the one we use to make hook rugs to “knot” her hair. We went to the Wild Fowl Trust, a bird sanctuary located in the heart of an oil refinery. We ate lunch at the Olive Tree on San Fernando Hill. We had fish, chicken, rice, beans, salad. Very good food and typical Trinidad fare we were told. Notes from the guide’s talk:
• Port of Spain has about 50,000 people
• It is a 6 hr. boat ride to their sister island Tobago.
• Official language is English though Spanish and French are spoken and street signs often have all.
• People are called “Trini’s” If from both islands you are a Trnibagonian (I believe)
• Trinidad is known for their Carnival.
• Venezuela is 7 miles away; one can swim there. But she said Venezuela will meet them with guns. She said when Venezuelans come to Trinidad, they kindly escort them back home; much kinder, she says, than the Venezuela government. Someone later said that oil is the reason for the hostility.
• Many religions. Catholic is most. Hindu second. Trinidad’s “watchword is tolerance”. She said because they have so many religions, they are very diligent about religious tolerance
• In school they learn English as well as French and Spanish
• Literacy 95%.
• Never had a hurricane.
• She told us about the “whine” at Carnival where women are dressed in costume (which sounds like a well-planned and expensive undertaking) and approach men and “whine” (suggestive dancing). Men also do it to some women. She said it doesn’t mean anything personal – but to be prepared if one attends carnival.
• When they hang out at beach or something they call it “liming”. A term that came from WWII when U.S. soldiers would arrive (seasick) sucking on a lime. The lime supposedly helped seasickness. The soldiers must have “hung out” because the word is commonly used for that now in Trinidad.
• She says a bar is called a “rum shop”.
• Ave income is $6000 TT per month. (like a bank teller job) I think I saw that the conversion rate is $1 U.S. TO 6 tt.
• 7% official unemployment rate; 15% unofficial.
• Only two seasons – rainy and dry. Dry is Jan- May.
• Main revenue is oil and gas.

We visited the Temple of the Sea. About one man’s perseverance to serve God. We were invited into the temple even though what seemed like a fairly private ceremony was going on. Food was being laid out in a beautiful organized fashion, incense was in the air, and a small hibachi had food on it. Prayers were being said. I think it was Hindu. The builder almost died in a ship accident and made a promise to build the temple. He was from India. He built the temple on land and the government destroyed it. He rebuilt it in the water, rock by rock. People made fun of him and it seemed it would never get done but it is there today. Along the beach were Hindu flags of various colors. You also see the Hindu flags in yards. They are three sided flags of many colors which seem to have significance. Those flags along the beach are at funeral pyres used for cremation. The body is burned at the beach and the ashes put in the ocean.

This is the first island we have been on with a four lane freeway in each direction. There is industry. The island is 1864 sq. miles, slightly smaller than Delaware. It is modern. They have oil reserves. They are the second largest producer of LNG (liquid nature gas) and do provide that to the western U.S.

Back to the ship for Happy Hour and dinner outside on the deck, as usual.

Our evening entertainment on board was Music and limbo dancing from local groups: Codrington Family Pan Group and Limbo Dancing Loventille Cultural Movement. Good entertainment!

Also used the computer lab and enjoyed the 10 pm snack, where there is always something sweet just as there is always ice cream available after dinner.

Posted by Linda K 10:06 Archived in Trinidad and Tobago Tagged of spain port Comments (0)

At Sea on the M.V. Explorer

January 6 2012

sunny

Achiles, my room steward, from the Philipines

Achiles, my room steward, from the Philipines

my desk

my desk

Jan 6 2012
Breakfast on the deck as usual. Sliced watermelon, oatmeal, coffee are my staples though some days I have some bacon or eggs or pancakes or French toast. It is my favorite meal of the day to be on the deck with coffee in the morning.

I skipped 9 a.m. art class to go to listen to “Ecotourism and the Caribbean Region” with Rock Rohwedder. Rocky is one of the best speakers and he did a good job of covering this topic. “Ecotourism” is a buzz word just like “green” is to sell stuff; Rocky talked about how to fund true sustainable travel options. The M/V Explorer, our ship has obtained some certifications for environmental excellence. It uses a lot of fuel though! And Rocky wouldn’t go as far as saying the ship is a green way to travel. In the lower level, there are three people whose jobs are to recycle everything possible on the ship including sorting the garbage. He talked about responsible travel: concerns environment; improves welfare of people visited; preserves environment and provides dollars for locals. He gave some resources: STCNA - just covers USA right now. Guide to sustainable travel; sustainable trips.org; and Green global standard. We talked about plastic and all our bottled water as we tavelled. He had a steripen which you can get at REI for $80 or $90. Sterilzes water in a few seconds when you put the pen in water. Makes the water 99.9% clean. Can we get rid of plastic bottles? The M.V. Explorer has received its ISO 1401 certification -- a process for some green standard. M. V. Explorer - three people downstairs go through garbage to recycle what they can; food waste is ground and released. Human waste is treated and released at sea. Treated with chlorine like at home. Dumped three miles off shore. Salt water is turned into fresh water with reverse osmosis on ship. The ships generator uses nasty fuel.

I don't know what I did the rest of the day......but I'm sure it was good!

We are heading for Trinidad!

Posted by Linda K 09:44 Tagged sea at for trinidad heading Comments (0)

At sea, leaving the Amazon River today

Jan 5 2011

sunny

Jan 5 2011
• Sea Day – Amazon pilot leaves the ship
• Scotch tasting and seasickness – not a good match
• Interesting fossil fuel lecture

Breakfast on the deck and still in the Amazon though you can tell we are getting nearer to the mouth as the river appears wider. Cloudy day. Warm. Breakfast on the deck. More “aha” moments. I really like the ship and the Amazon and I still can’t believe I’m on the Amazon. Can’t think of a better place to have morning coffee than overlooking the Amazon with the warmth and the breeze.

Today we left the Amazon. The ship stopped briefly at 7 a.m. when the Amazon Pilot got off the ship. Watching the pilots come aboard and leave is very interesting. A small boat with “Pilot” on the side comes up to our ship and in a flash a pilot boards the ship and the small boat takes off. The pilots are needed on the Amazon because they know the rivers well and with water levels changing, the river is rapidly changing.

Went to art class at 9 a.m and learned "mark making" (I think!). We also learned scribble drawing. I'm barely able to get the water colors I like on paper so all this is way over my head. But our teacher Zen Browne is so cool and other people's art is so cool, that I'm enjoying art class anyway.
Zen Browne, our art teacher gave us a cool quote today: “ An Artist is one who consents to dream of the actual world” (Zen’s thesaurus). He also had a cool little collage thing he did with a red door and a Chinese fortune inside that said “Live in your strength”, He is an art teacher at the Brooklyn Art Museum so you can imagine how cool his collage was. We do watercolor and he lets us do what we want. Just gives us a short lesson to start on some technique. I’m impressed with the talent in the room, especially since most of us are not artists.

Today Ian Campbell, the Scottish professor that has a great sense of humor, talked about disease in the Amazon. He also described old people as having a “sell by date”. I’ve forgotten the context now but I though it was very funny in the context he gave it.

Fossil fuel speaker whose name I can't find:
We had a speaker on fossil fuel. He maintains we are not running out of fossil fuels, it is just that the fuels available are harder to get to (fracking and all). He recommended a recent article in NYT on this topic. He says there is lots of oil shale. The biggest question is since we “can” get it “should we”. Four battle fields: 1) clean coal (costly to get rid of CO2), 2) fracking for natural gas; says we have 30 years of gas supply; says politics in D.D. has changed rapidly in the last year. Frackers are seeking subsidies and legislation 3) tar sands – supply in tar sands equals all the oil in Saudi Arabia. Energy/profit ratio is low. Co2. Produce 800,000 barrels a day; USA uses 2 Million a day. 4) Oil shale. ND, SD, VT. 200-900 billion barrels. Their extraction makes tar sands look easy ( I think that is what he said). He says getting much more contentious talk in U.S. about climate change. Contentious about options. 12 billion $ spent on weather events in U.S. last year. Many countries have records highs. Talked about rise in “Transition culture”. See Oberlin Project. Small town resilience – grows food, create energy, make resilient towns. Plenty of fossil fuel – last 18 months has been a sea change. Fossil fuel is available. China Brazil. Question is do we go for it. Geo Thermal is a puzzle – not well explored.

Seasick:

This afternoon we left the Amazon mouth for the Caribbean and rougher sees, I was feeling sick. We had Scotch class with Ian Campbell, a Scottish professor, at 6 p.m.; we had signed up and paid $10 so we went. Ian is the astronomy professor with the Scottish accent who also gave a talk on traveler’s diarrhea. He is a funny guy and we wanted to take his class even though neither of us drink Scotch. We did visit a distillery while in Scotland and didn’t like Scotch there either. We had 10 samples of Scotch and all tasted terrible as far as I’m concerned. Ian loves Scotch because of the way it “warms up your tonsils”. Have to agree that it warms up tonsils, if that is a good thing. Came out of that class, took a seasick pill and headed to my room without dinner. Fell asleep in my clothes at 5:30 pm ; woke at 11 pm; back to sleep. Love sleeping with the ship rocking.

Posted by Linda K 09:19 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

At sea, returning to the mouth of the Amazon

Jan 4 2012

sunny

Jan 4 2012

• Dancing with Stars
• Day at Sea – Meeting of Waters Rio Negro
• “Chorus line”

The ship left Manaus about 6 p.m. last night for our return trip up the Amazon. Almost 1000 miles to the mouth of the Amazon. Soon after leaving Manaus, we passed the meeting of the waters of the Rio Negro (a tributary of the Amazon), and the Amazon. Very interesting site as you see the two rivers flowing beside each other. I have so many pictures of it I’m sure I’ll wonder what I was doing!

Today we are traveling down the Amazon. Had sunny skies on the way in and now have cloudy skies on the way out. It is warm, of course. In this part of the Amazon we can see green forests on each side of the river. About lunch time we passed Santarem, the town we stopped in on the way up. Santarem is much smaller than Manaus, having about 300,000 people in the region or 150,000 in the city. The Amazon is brown – like a muddy brown, the Rio Negro is coffee colored. I love the Amazon and can spend a lot of time outside looking at it. We have many lectures, meals and activities going on so it is hard to fund much time to just sit. Maybe when I get older I will come and just sit!

Breakfast inside as the deck is closed to food due to bugs. My usual of hot cereal and lots of fresh watermelon and coffee. Ate with Diane (Eugene) and talked about her visit to someone’s house in Santarem and how she was able to talk people into letting her into the house. Then to Art class for water colors at 9 a.m. Busy day as usual: lecture on Tropical rain Forests and then one on Searching for El Dorado, the mythical city of gold in the Amazon rain forest. Then to a session on the Enrichment voyages, which is what I’m traveling on.

Some time in the sun. Some time on the computer for journal writing. But not much.

At 6 pm we had a cocktail party for some of us that came via Road Scholar. The door prize was 500 internet minutes that would have been such a goldmine! Alas, neither Joan nor I won. The road scholar coordinators are Rui and Helena, both Portuguese residents. Also Alex and Erin who live in Boston and work in the offices at Road Scholar. They are young and fun.

In addition to formal lectures and classes, there is so much going on from Portuguese to Dance Class to Bridge lessons to Poolside trivia to Yoga to Zumba to writing classes and even lectures by fellow tourists. Something for everyone. I go to as many lectures as possible. The lecturers are university professors and very interesting and knowledgeable. Some are even very funny. Joan and I enjoy happy hour too – time to visit with fellow travelers and catch up on the day’s news.

Barbeque ribs on deck 7 tonight and then “Dancing with the Stars”, a dance contest – entertainment by fellow passengers. Too funny. The judges were entertaining. A couple of our friends danced which made it even more fun. Rita Dove (former U.S. Poet Laureate) and her husband were the dance winners and evidently do competitive ballroom dancing.

I’ve met so many interesting people on this trip. The students are fun. The staff Is fun. There are some engaging waiters. Joan and I particularly have enjoyed Rushan, a waiter from Bombay India. He is 24 and on his fourth trip around the world. He travels with Semester at Sea half the year and lives with his parents half the year. He has the cutest smile and giggle – he makes us laugh. Most passengers have interesting travel stories and lives. People from all over the U.S., a few from other countries. One of our fellow passengers from NYC made the observation that we are like the “chorus line”. We all step out at times to tell our story and then move back into the chorus. Everyone has interesting stories and travels. I’m amazed at the people on the ship. Many solo travelers, many quite old. Some are on their second Enrichment voyage, having traveled the Central America/Panama canal route last Christmas and liking it so well they returned this year. Also ran into quite a few travelers who were Semester-at-Sea participants while in college 20 or 30 years ago. I guess that would be Semester-at-Sea alumni. The kids that attend Semester-at-Sea come from colleges all over the U.S. and some international students. They earn a semesters worth of credits and travel around the world on the M.V. Explorer, our ship. “Lifelong Learners” are welcome also and can either just travel or audit classes with the students. The ship holds 800. Crew is about 300. I listened to a lecture on lifelong learners. If I remember, they like to have about 10% of the ship with lifelong learners on the student voyages. The ship often travels to places I would love to visit including South Africa, China, India and Vietnam and Cambodia. Something for the wish list!

I can't remember which day this was but we were to view the meteor shower from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m if interested. Ian Campbell got the lights turned off for a bit for viewing on deck 8. I went for part of it. Saw few meteors but did see the Southern Cross, Crux, a constellation only visible below 25 degrees latitude. Ian has a laser which he used to point out the stars so it was easy to see the Southern Cross. I overheard one person say it was one of the highlights of their trip. It wasn't very important to me but I'm glad I saw it.

Posted by Linda K 08:25 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Manaus, Brazil - day two

Jan 3, 2012

sunny

Man in Manaus Brazil

Man in Manaus Brazil

Manaus Brazil

Manaus Brazil

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Opera House Manaus

Opera House Manaus

Inside of Opera House in Manaus Brazil

Inside of Opera House in Manaus Brazil

Opera House Manaus Brazil

Opera House Manaus Brazil

Opera House in Manaus

Opera House in Manaus

Map from eco-lodge

Map from eco-lodge

One of our boats

One of our boats

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96-DSCN4263

through the forest

through the forest

our guide on the jungle forest walk

our guide on the jungle forest walk

out my front door

out my front door

breakfast at eco-lodge

breakfast at eco-lodge

January 3, 2012

• Day 2 Manaus, Brazil – Jungle walk and Monkey preserve
• Manaus Opera House
• Manaus Market

Eco-lodge in the morning:

Slept with open windows (screened) in the eco-lodge cabin. Surrounded by jungle sounds and jungle noises. There are 2000 types of bugs in the jungle of I remember right. When it gets dark the noises start. The smell is earthy and musty. The air is warm but I did turn off the air conditioner so I could hear the jungle noises. Pitch black dark except for some small lights along the path. I slept surprisingly well. Tried to work on my journal but was so tired that I ended up closing my journal and my book by 9:30 and fell asleep. That meant I was awake by 4:30 a.m. Before daylight. I didn’t get up but laid in the dark listening to the noises and enjoying the air. No hairdryer and high humidity - I think my hair dried in the late afternoon. I met Joan for breakfast.

Finally got up at 6 a.m., went to Joan’s cabin to borrow shampoo and then showered and headed for breakfast at 7 a.m. in the outdoor restaurant. . There was yogurt, omelets, fresh pineapple, bananas, great Brazilian coffee and tapioca pancakes. We find that wheat flower is unusual in Brazil – makes sense – they don’t grow it there. The juices are papaya, some other fruits that I don’t remember the names of – one tasted like coconut. Shared an omelet with Joan and met with our group at 8:30 a.m. for a walk in the jungle forest. Our guide was a woman, indigenous. She insisted we tuck our pants in our sox to keep the snakes and ants away.

Jungle hike:

Our guide was very interesting. She knows the jungle well. We walked a couple of hours. She told us about jungle trees and the medicinal uses, we saw a Sloth; we were in primary and secondary jungle forests. Once the jungle is clear cut it does not grow back like it was before the clear cut. The earth in the jungle is not very nutritious and it takes a very long time for the forest to grow back small. The regrowth will be small and never look like it did. Saw huge (like two feet long) termite nests. Saw vines that hold water that would be as fresh as the mineral water in our back packs. Also saw vines that would have poisons. The vines grow from the top of the forest down and anchor on the ground and then grow back up to the canopy again.

She talked about her grandmother who was a Shaman. She talked about her diet of fish and rice and vegetables. Little meat. Mostly fish. This is similar to what the guide, Anna, said about her diet the other day. Though we did have one guide say Brazilians like meat and that is causing ecological problems as growing cattle takes a lot of land and is harmful to the land.

We were covered in clothes, hats, DEET and sox. We were HOT and when you had the humid jungle we were REALLY hot. Some people literally had sweat running off them. Some of the travelers in our group are fairly old – like late 80’s and I’m surprised how well they managed this day. We had to walk under branches, step over downed trees, stick our heads inside tree trunks to see bats, and deal with the warmth and occasional snake spotting, sloth spotting and jaguar warnings.

But what a day. I think we were all knocked out about being in the jungle and enjoying the sounds, smells and the talk by our guide.
One interesting thing was the termite nests and ants nests which hang on the side of the trees and are literally several feet long and a foot think. The guide screamed at the ant nest to wake them up; then she took a bunch of ants in her hands and rubbed them together – smooshed them – and then had us smell it. The smell was like insect repellant and that is what one could use in the jungle for repellant. We saw plants that are used for prescription drugs in U.S. to treat diabetes, leukemia, cancer, etc. Saw the plant that is used to make Vicks Vapo-rub.

Some Rain Forest notes from our local Guide at the Eco Lodge:

• Molatato tree – wrinkle cure
• Rain forest never grows back – poor soil
• Primary and secondary forests
• Jaguars seen recently – traking care of their babies now.
• Wooly monkeys and 20 other kinds. Yellow faced monkey lives there. They are caught at homes as pets and confiscated. Prohibited as pets so brought here to re-introduce into the forest. Marcella who is in a case at the Monkey Foundation, has been released but ends up running over to the eco-lodge. She likes people so she wants to be at the eco-lodge.
• From the spot we were in at Manaus, the jungle continues to Columbia and Ecuador. The animals found in the forest include: Jaguars, wilds hogs, monkeys and spiders.
• Ants nest. Tabita (sp?) ants are used for medicine. Our guide yelled at the huge nest, the ants came out. She squished them in her hands and had us smell the result – it smelled like insect repellant. And it is used for insect repellant.
• Water vine comes from tp of trees.
• Bushmaster nake – dangerous. Also boa constrictors
• Power tree – BRIO (sp). Used to treat headaches, sinus, arthritis, itching.
• 18% of medicine comes rom rain forests and much is used for soaps and creams.
• Kupareba tree – oil – treat cancer. Use bark. Can buy capsules.
• Adarba tree – has a hollow sound. Use when you are lost – take a stick and pound and sounds like a drum and someone will hear you. Also used for drums.



Monkey reserve:

Next we went on the motorized canoes to the Monkey Reserve. It was started 20 years ago by the owners of the Eco-Lodge that we stayed in. The reserve is for monkeys that are treated as pets, which is illegal. When found, the monkeys are then put in the reserves where they are watched for a bit by a vet and held in cages a while. After acclimating they are let out in the jungle but still fed part of their food by the reserve. Eventually they will end up in the jungle in the wild. Right now they had Marcella. She has been let out a few times but ends up going over to the Eco-lodge and wanting to be around people. They will keep working to get her back in the jungle. People visiting the Monkey reserve asked for a restaurant and that led to the Eco-Lodge as well as the restaurant that we stayed at. The “boys” were supposed to bring monkeys from the jungle for us to see in the wild but they never showed up. Our stay was short.
Back to the Eco-lodge, a stop at the gift shop where I bought my ACAI bean (?) necklace – lime green. Very nice. The young girl that works there gave me some chocolate made from ACAI – it was dark chocolate with the ACAI in the center. Very rich and very nice.
Took a quick shower. Had lunch at the eco-lodge outdoor restaurant and also a Happy Birthday song for Ruiz, one of our Portuguese guide’s, birthday and headed back to Manaus.

Manaus City Tour and Opera house:
We didn’t travel as far as we did on our way out as we didn’t do the whole trip by water. We came to a spot were buses met us to take us on a city tour. Manaus has almost 2,000,000 people. Many huge high-rises. Lots of poor substandard housing also.

Our first stop was the Teatra Amazonas, the Brazil Opera house which was built in the 1890’s when Manus was flourishing under a rubber boom. The house has been closed on and off, one time for 90 years. It has been open in the late 1990’s after its fourth renovation. Beautiful and very old. Manaus was called “the Paris of the Amazon” at one time. We had a tour of the opera house and the ballroom, spent some time in the square next to it, picked up a pair of earrings at a local shop and then back to the bus for a stop at the market. The market reminds you of Pikes Place Market but on a MUCH larger scale, especially the fish section. Late in the day, the activity is down some as most buying is done in the morning. There are 2000 species of fish in the Amazon. One of our fellow tourists was pick pocked in the market. He had a waist belt on that had some zippers. He wore it on the front of his waist. Someone quickly zipped open one zipper and took $80. Luckily no credit cards. He said it happened so fast that by the time he “felt” something wasn’t right, it was over. The market is crowded and kind of smelly. We went to the outside part that was stacked with watermelons and bananas. Then walked the riverfront (Rio Negro) for a bit and viewed the abundance of plastic garbage at the shore. The local tour guide told us it was worse than usual. We did see three people with humongous bags picking up the trash – I suppose to recycle. The river here was loaded with boats – from tourist boats to houseboats to dinner boats.

Some facts from the guides:

  • Manaus means "mother of gods"
  • Manaus is 6000 KM from Rio and 5000 KM from So Paolo
  • Immigration here from other parts of Brazil, but not skilled
  • 160 years ago Manaus did not exist. It was one of the richest cities in the world at the beginning of the 19th century because of rubber. It was the only city to export rubber for years. Government spent money on parks, buildings, etc.
  • 40-50% of people in Manaus were born elsewhere.
  • 8 hours to venezuela
  • road to south closed. Environmentalist don't want it re-opened. Soybeans came. Clothes and food have to come from far away.
  • People are called "monowattas" (sp?) -- residents of Manaus. They include Indian, European. Kobuchos (?) are white man living in the jungle. He calls it a very international city
  • Economy is growing here and all of Brazil. Have oil. Very rich. exporter of beef, cow, O.J.
  • Men have one year mandatory military service --18 year old males.
  • In Manaus there are 50,000 more femails than males.
  • Building materials were originally brought by "smoke ships" (?)
  • Manaus had no planning -- rich houses, poor houses all together -- now doing more planning
  • 75% of people in Manaus have running water.
  • From Rio Negro -- no one drinks town water. Quality wasn't good. Now French company runs water company. Still no one drinks it.
  • Lowest salary is $400 month. 25% minimum tax rate. Factories offer many social programs for workers -- health, food, transportation.
  • Gas expensive. Monopoly by few people. Brazil has biggest reserve in world.
  • Humidity is hard on houses.
  • Only Harley Davidson factory outside the U.S. is in Manaus.


Back to the ship:

As you can imagine, we were sweaty and hot and tired and looking forward to our THIRD shower of the day. We had to board the ship at 5 p.m., loading to deck 5 so it takes a while to get aboard and then walking into the Air conditioned boat. Joan and I stopped at the piano bar for a glass of wine and a “aha” moment. We had been through a few adventures in the last 24 hours – the rain soaked ride on the boat to the Eco-lodge, Caiman (small alligator) hunting at night in motorized canoes, overnight in the rain forest, jungle walk. Hot, tired. Next to our rooms for a shower and then another glass of wine and trading stories with our fellow travelers. Some took trips where they slept in hammocks on river boats overnight, some took day trips and stayed on ship, etc. I think our trip was the best and glad it was part of our itinerary.

After dinner on the outside deck and a change to watch some local Brazilian dancers and musicians in the ship’s lounge, Joan and I headed to our rooms, exhausted totally! Still surprised what we had done in the last 24 hours. And that we did it. We are not the most adventuresome people in the world.

Posted by Linda K 07:02 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Manaus, Brazil - almost 1,000 miles from the mouth of the Am

Jan 2 2012

rain

January 2, 2012

• Do we take malaria meds?
• Manaus and Caiman hunting,
• Manaus – overnight at Eco-lodge
• Manaus – meeting of the waters

Lecture notes re Climate Change, World Bank, Economics:

Good lectures this morning on the SAS program, pre-port Manaus and Global “Weirding” as the lecturer called it. Mike Maniates gave a talk on “Brazil, Small Island Nations and Climate Change”. He discussed that less developed/poor countries will suffer more than the rich economies. And of course the rich economies like the U.S. and Europe use more of the world’s resources. There is a “Coalition of Small Island Nations” with no power but a strong moral claim. There is a poor world coalition which includes Brazil, India China and So Africa. They didn’t cause the problem of global weather change but will the results in “the shorts”. The U.S., Canada and Australia use most resources. China has surpassed the U.S. in emission but a high percentage of that is to make stuff they export to the U.S. If you believe the scientists that a 2% change in CO2 will change the world then an 80% reduction of Co2 is needed. The loss of sea ice has accelerated climate change faster than any scientists predicted. India and poor countries see control of CO2 as imperialism – rich world telling them what to do. Some groups work has show the U.S. owns 33% of the Co2 problem, Europe 25% and the third world suffers the most from climate change since rain feeds agriculture and they have no money for seawalls and oceans rise. There is talk of a “Climate Development Fund” so rich countries would help others and those credits would reduce our debt to others. The “Climate Development Fund” would be used to even this out – we know the U.S. won’t reduce CO2 by 33% so we would pay to help countries that are suffering because of us.

Contrary to what people in the U.S think, we give little foreign aide. People in the U.S. when polled think the U.S. gives 30% of budget to foreign aide; people when polled think we should give 5% to foreign aide; but we really give only 1% for foreign aide.

The economic might of the planet is heading east. IMF, World Bank built for U.S. and Europe. U.S. has veto power. India, Brazil, Viet Nam, So Africa and China have decided they have to go alone. This brings “multi-polarity”. Makes global cooperation more difficult. The major game in town now is climate negotiation. Obama has signed on the Global Exchange Initiative but not funded it (and he won’t until after the election).

Semester at Sea board and admins

It costs about $25,000 for a student to do Semester-at-Sea, earning a full semester of college credits and sailing around the world. SAS's educational component is run by the U of Virginia. On those voyages the average age is 22. On our Enrichment voyage the average age is 55 and that includes the three groups of students that are on board. Student scholarships are available. SAS just tried to break even on SAS program -- SAS is a non-profit. 1/3 of the cost of operation of the ship goes to underpaid faculty.


About Manaus:

Manaus is almost 1,000 miles from the mouth of the Amazon River. It is accessible only by plane or boat. It has 2 million people. It sits at the confluence of the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes, forming the Amazon proper. The two rivers flow side by side for many miles, different in color, mixing in eddies, “the meeting of the waters”. It grew during the rubber boom in the beginning of the 19th century. Some of our friends got to tour a “company town” built by DuPont or one of the big rubber companies and preserved as it was in the 30’s. On deck as we arrive at Manuas I'm on the deck thinking I wish I could bring the smell back -- it is a musty, warm pleasant smell. An earthy and pleasant smell. It it windy and overcast today. It is another "pinch me" moment as the ship moves into the Rio Negro, a tributary of the Amazon. The water is literally coffee colored with a brown froth against the boat. It was exhilarating to be on deck for the meeting of the waters.

Malaria:

Before we left the U.S. most of us were given Malaria meds by our doctors, clinics or public health districts. Earlier this week the ship doctor spoke on Malaria and the side effects of the drugs. I don’t remember his stats but I think he said in 20 years they have had one case of Malaria on the ship and that was a student. He suggested using our Deet (the nasty stuff) when in the jungle at sunrise and dusk (when the mosquitoes are out) but did not encourage us to use malaria meds. Joan and I and most of the people we talked to passed on the Malaria meds.

Brazil and oil:

Rocky spoke on oil and Brazil in the pre-port talk: 90% of new vehicles sold in Manaus are flexing – gas or ethanol. Ethanol from sugar cane is huge in Brazil. Didn’t go the “corny” route of production as U.S. (political choice in U.S. due to clout of “corn” states). Sugarcane, for one unit of energy, puts 8 units out. Corn barely gets more energy out that it takes to make it. Per speaker Rocky, after 70’s Arab oil embargo their motto is not “Drill baby drill” but “grow baby grow”.

I didn’t go outside for lunch because of the bugs on ship at Manaus. Ate a crowded early lunch as we are prepared to disembark. The ship was late – at least by an hour – docking in Manaus and then disembarking took a long time. Our 1 pm trip left about 2:30 pm I think.

Arriving Manaus
:

Just before arriving in Manaus, I was out on the outside deck watching the arrival. I wasn’t expecting this but witnessed the meeting of the waters for the Amazon and Rio Negro. The two rivers don’t mix for a long time due to several reasons, one of them being the acidity, which is what makes the Rio Negro black. It was absolutely amazing to watch. There is literally a line in the water, like a line in the sand, between the two bodies. The frothy wake around the ship, now that we are going up the Rio Negro, is coffee colored instead of white. It is such an amazing site. The Rio Negro is huge also –reminds one of the Amazon except for the color. We barely get into the Rio Negro and we are at Manaus.

Eco-lodge in Jungle:
Today we headed for an overnight at the Eco-lodge. We were met at the ship by a boat which had open sides and two levels that held 100 of us. Boarding was difficult as we disembarked from the fifth level of the ship down a long stairway and then had to climb some wooden steps up and down in the boat. Then another flight of narrow steps to the top of an open air ship. Our guide was a Brazilian man who spoke good English. We all had overnight bags with us so we were loaded up. We barely got underway and the rain started (rainy season here!). It poured and there was thunder and lightning. Soon the blue plastic (yes, even here in the Amazon) tarps along the sides of the boats were lowered to protect us from the rain. The rain poured into the boat in other ways and was running under our feet and chairs on the wooden decks so we loaded our bags onto our laps. Wild ride. Took 1.5 hours. Towards the end, the rain let up and we could pull up the tarps to see the landscape. Felt better and less claustrophobic. Manaus is on the Rio Negro, a HUGE tributary of the Amazon. The Rio Negro water is black. From the Rio Negro we went into another tributary and then another to the eco-lodge. By this time the river is not really wide and there is high grass on the sides of the river, so I’m thinking it is not very deep.

As we rode the guide told us much about Manaus and the area. Very interesting and he spoke very good English. The highlights are in my notebook! One interesting item, after the rubber trade bubble burst (by England I believe) moving rubber production to Persia (I believe), devastating Manaus’ economy with reduced rubber prices in another part of the world. The Brazilian government eventually created a free trade zone in Manaus in the 50’s and 60’s and Manaus now has 500 factories. The guide maintains that most of them are electronic factories so they are greener than most factories. Honda motorcycles employs 11,000 people in Manaus. Harley Davidson has its only non-U.S. factory in Manaus. He mentioned many other companies, including Sony and those types of companies.

We went under a large bridge that connects Manaus to the 3rd largest city in Amazon region -- a city of 100,000. The bridge was just completed in the last 4 months.

Some facts from the river guide as we went up the Rio Negro in a smaller boat to the Eco-Lodge.
• Here is the biggest National Park in the world
• Biggest fish estuary in the islands in the Rio-Negro and Amazon
• Rio Negro is 98% preserved -- lots of national parks. Balsa forest, eco-systems.
• Two seasons -- rainy and dry.
• No Dengue fever at Rio Negro -- acid water - mosquitoes don't like. No malaria.
• Indian reservations on the Rio Nego. Biggest reservation in South America.
• Other people are forbidden to go there.
• Brazil rain forest is 4 million sq miles. There are 6 million sq miles in Brazil. 60% of Brazil is the Amazon region.
• Taper is largest animal in rain forest -- big as a big or a small cow
• Insects and bugs are bio-diversity. About 80 million types live in the forest canopy.
• Beetles fly and can be 5" high.
• 100 years ago Manaus was rubber capital of the world. England moved rubber trade to Asia.
• In 1967 Manaus was declared a free port; 500 factories here; Honda makes motorcyles. 11,000 employees.
• 90% of factories are electronics like Sony.
• Rio Negro supports 500 kinds of fish (River of hunger)
• Amazon supports 2000 kinds of fish, more than the Atlantic.
• Guide - 13 days by boat to his place near Columbia Peru
• Sleep in boats -- there are hooks, you bring your hammock and sleep there. 5 x more expensive to get a cabin.
• Amazon is biggest tropical forest. Siberia has biggest forest in world but it has only 1 type of tree. Amazon forest has 40,000 plants and trees.
• Thames river transports in 1 year what Amazon transports in 1 second – 400 cubic meter in 1 second out of the mouth of the river.
• Amazon is young river. Erosion makes new islands; others disappear.
• Colors is due to sediment. 100,000 tons per day head to the coast. French Guyana is growing.
• Longest and most volume of any river in world. It starts in Peru. Amazon follows equator. (Linda: The Rio Negro is a tributary of the Amazon and other than the Amazon, it is the biggest river I’ve ever seen).
• “Talma (sp) river is the next tributary of the Rio Negro that we are traveling on and then one more tributary to get to the Eco Lodge. 1.5 hour ride from Manaus.
• Lots of rich people in Manaus. Also see many rich people living on boats in tributaries. He mentioned Tamsu river. Less storms in tributories. Corrupt mayor lives there. He supports education, at least. Guide believes people will continue to make better choices at election time.
• Guide stated, just as Anna (Santarem guide), that if people have food, they are not poor. We may think people look poor, but if they have food they are not poor.
• Corruption is getting better in Brazil – finally some prosecution of crimes.
• Gas stations are in the river – floating
• Brazil doesn’t import oil. Cost of gas is $2.80 per liter or $7 per gallon.

Upon arrival at the Eco-lodge, we walked up hill on a sandy beach to the hotel lobby which is open to the air. We had a glass of juice and then went to our cabins. Mine was part of a three-plex. You walk through the jungle along paths with cabins which are duplex and triplex type rooms nestled along the path. It is dark as the trees are high and form a canopy in the jungle. Joan is in the triplex next to mine. The rooms are small with a double bed, nice lighting, a small bath/shower, an armoire. Wooden floors. No hairdryer (I noticed right away!). The room has a small porch and shutters (with screens ) than can be opened to let air in the room. It gets dark about 6 pm. We headed for the open air bar for a drink before Cayman hunting. As we stood at the bar, the neighborhood parrot swooped in and walked around the bar, walked over to the container holding lemons or something, knocked the lid off it. Tried to drink from someone’s drink. Pretty funny. We had a glass of wine to prepare for night boat ride to hunt Caimans.

Caiman hunting on the river:
We went to the lobby to start our Caiman (Alligator) search in the night. It was still raining with some lightening. We waited a while and soon boarded the motorized canoes (they call them). The boats are wooden, flat bottomed and wooden and hold about 5 bench seats. We had two guides, young Brazilian men, one at one end running a motor with a propeller on a long arm and a propeller on the end. They seem to hold it high in the water. One guide is in the front of the boat with shorts and thongs and a light to look for the Caiman. The Caiman have red eyes when light shines on them. We took off. Other than the putt-putt of the small motor and the light of the fellow at the front of the boat, it is very quiet and dark in the jungle with lots of jungle noises. We went down the tributary and came across a pair of red eyes. They cut the motor and then try to close in on the Caiman, pulling it out of the water (and then returning it to the water again). Our guide never caught a Cayman but another boat had so we ended up meeting up with them where we could all get a good look (or a good hold if you were willing) on the Cayman. I have told my traveling friends that I felt like I was in a movie – it didn’t seem real – out on the tributary of the river, pitch black in a small boat looking for Cayman. The evening is steamy because of the rain, it is very dark and we are surrounded by jungle. Whew. About 8 pm we arrived back on the beach. Headed for the open-air dinner in the dining room.

Dinner and to bed:

We had a very nice evening buffet dinner with rice, chicken, beef, bread, salads and vegetables. We used our flashlights to find our cabins in the dark in the jungle. The jungle comes alive at night with sounds and it was wonderful. I opened the shutters in my room (screened) to sleep with the jungle sounds. Slept well even though I forgot to bring PJ’s as we brought only and overnight bag with us. I had to sleep in a t-shirt. Luckily I had an extra one – sweaty Deet clothes – ick! The shower was basic with no metal pipes but a small plastic hose. The bathroom was tiled and very clean. One towel only. The floor was wooden with a pretty crocheted rug. Will post a picture of the cabin. Found out the next day that some people had some rather large bugs in their room – one fellow chased it under the bed and then went to sleep. Oh my gosh – glad it wasn’t in my room: I would have had to sit on the porch all night. As if there aren’t bugs out there too, huh?

Posted by Linda K 19:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Santarem, Brazil

Jan 1 2012

sunny

Back to our ship in Santarem

Back to our ship in Santarem

home along the river Santarem

home along the river Santarem

63-DSCN4089

63-DSCN4089

Fishermen along the river

Fishermen along the river

Santarem

Santarem

Piranha

Piranha

Kids fishing from their boat in the shade

Kids fishing from their boat in the shade

Santarem

Santarem

57-DSCN4052

57-DSCN4052

Santarem -bike parked in river

Santarem -bike parked in river

Joan - Santarem boat

Joan - Santarem boat

Santarem

Santarem

Santarem - woman was washing clothes or her hair -- can't remember

Santarem - woman was washing clothes or her hair -- can't remember

Boat manager and Anna, the English speaking Guide from Berlin

Boat manager and Anna, the English speaking Guide from Berlin

Santarem

Santarem

Santarem

Santarem

Santarem

Santarem

Meeting of the waters - Santarem

Meeting of the waters - Santarem

Police car in Santarem, Brazil

Police car in Santarem, Brazil

January 1, 2012
• Pink dolphin
• Piranha fishing
• A visit with woman from Berlin who speaks five languages and is living in a house without walls or windows or electricity and with a hand pump for water – and loving her life.

This morning when I woke up we were at Santarem dock. Many ships at the dock. There are many small boats and small ferry boats near the docks. When the ferry boat goes by everyone waves.

We left the ship from deck five and walked over to the buses which would take us to a boat going up the Amazon and a tributary with the word “lake” in the title (but it was not a lake but a tributary). We had a Brazilian guide (boat manager/owner) and a young woman named Annie who spoke to us in English.

We started out in the Tapajos River which is mineral water. Acid. Low PH. We went into the Amazon. Viewing the meeting of the waters. The dark Tapajos and the brown Amazon.

The guide showed us the “security clothes” (life jacket) and made motions to “plus your nose and jump in”.

The Tapajos and the Amazon mix at Santarum. The difference in color is due to density, velocity and temperature.

Mosquitos don’t like acid water. Less fish in acid water and less biodiversity.

Today was an incredible day. The sun was out, the boat ride was peaceful and fascinating we learned so much, As we traveled up tributaries of the Amazon, we went by islands that will be covered in water during the rainy season. There are small houses, often on stilts and the island will be covered by water during the rainy season and the houses damaged. I think Anna said the water will go up 6-8 feet. During the dry season the residents will have cows moved to the island via barges. They will rebuild the homes that have been damaged by water. Because they can live on the island for only part of the year, one crop they can grow is rice and they can grow vegetables like cucumbers. They catch fish to eat and sell. They have outdoor plumbing. No running water. No electricity. We saw small children swimming, playing by their homes, a woman washing her hair near the river, fisherman in small boats or tucked under trees that overhang the river seeking some shade. It was a picture into the life of the people that live on the river. It doesn’t even feel real. It was peaceful on the river, the views were beautiful, many birds around.

We had lunch on board with the food prepared in a teeny-tiny kitchen by two women wearing hairnets. The lunch was buffet. Wheat isn’t raised in the tropics, obviously so there are other flours, one of which was served as a side-dish. It was curly and yellow and didn’t have much taste. The lunch was beef, chicken, rice, salads and watermelon for dessert. Also the sweetest pineapple you can imagine.

After lunch we fished for piranhas, which must be a tourist activity. Someone I talked with in the U.S. said they ate the piranhas after catching them. On our boat, they were catch-and-release. We were given a small wooden block with notches on the ends; around that was wrapped fishing line. The hooks had a chunk of red meet. We threw them over the side of the boat. I quit rather quickly as I’ve never liked to see fish suffer. A few people caught them; the boat helpers took the piranhas, held them up for pictures and then put them in a bucket of water and later returned them to the sea. I’ve never really understood how the fish heals his poor little mouth but didn’t ask.

The Amazon has 2000 species. Tapajos has 300 fish species. Fish don’t prosper as well in the acid water of the Tapajos.
Anna, our guide, was very clear that even though the people we saw along the shore looked poor, that in Brazil these people are not considered poor. If they have food, they are not poor.

Brazil has two seasons. Rainy season and dry season. They don’t speak in terms of summer or fall or winter or summer. Rainy season is December – June.

We headed back to the ship in the afternoon. (Have to finish the rest later)

My conversation with Anna:
• House with no walls and windows; palm roof, clay floor, cooks in clay oven.
• Pumps water from the ground with a hand pump and has a good filter on it. The water table is high so easy to get water.
• Solar power.
• Her passion is growing food – she grows food to eat.
• She also makes jewelry, does some tourist stuff like today, makes Pesto to sell, etc. She says she only needs money for food. She is a neighbor of the boat owner – not sure how she has her land. She has lived in the Amazon 4 years.
• Willy the bat lives in her house; only comes out at night. Not a bother. He was named by her mother when she visited Anna from France.
• Anna likes warm weather;has lived in Mexico and was heading for Venezuela and then stopped in Santarem because tired of traveling. Has been there four years. Thinks she will move on some day as she would like weather that is a little more temperate.
• Never bitten by a bug
• Degree earned in Berlin
• Speaks five languages: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
• Brazil government planned to move soy plantations north in Brazil near to Santarem. 2004 U.N. says “no” to aquifer. Largest drinking supply (in world?) near Santarem. Can’t use pesticides.
• Has bugs in house and she says “you guys have the whole “f….g” jungle, get out of here” and they listen to her.
• Locals kill things like bugs but she doesn’t.
• Three months pregnant: support groups, free healthcare for all but she doesn’t want to give birth in hospital.
• I told her she looks like a model – she says she’d rather plant.
• Lives on land that is not treated with pesticides.
• Anna has a pump in the land – hand pump for water and a great filter
• She takes the bus 45 minutes to her village (has guest room, living room and kitchen
• She says the islanded are “floated”, when she means “flooded” .
• Cost of stuff including food is as high as Europe. $1.50 Kilo bean. (Kilo is 2.2 lbs.)
• She is three months pregnant. I gave a little money to buy something for her baby, the least I could do for all the interesting conversation I had with her today.

Posted by Linda K 19:50 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Traveling the Amazon River

Dec 31 2011

sunny

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)

Posted by Linda K 19:44 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Arriving at the mouth of the Amazon River

Dec 30, 2011

sunny

Dec 30, 2011
• Mouth of the Amazon – huge!
• Astronomy class on deck.

Art class this morning. Spent time making a color wheel. Primary colors. And learning about tertiary colors which are those mixed from the mix of the primary colors. I put a few touches on St. Kitts picture. Our art teacher is very nice to everyone – it is a great class.
Still reading my Amazon book and ended up taking a snooze on Deck 6, sun, wind and warmth. Too hard to read. Joan went to digital photography class.

Met Joan for lunch at 1 pm and then “Geography for Life” with Herb Thompson and Cliver Rijoa. Very interesting…Herb teaches in Las Vegas and Cliver lives in Peru and Iquitos. National Geographic and some others are sponsoring them and after they leave us they will travel 1300 miles further up the Amazon to Iquitos.

At 2 pm we were due to hit the mouth of the Amazon. I was in a lecture and by the time I got out we were in the mouth. The mouth of the Amazon is 200 miles across; there is an island in the middle that is the size of Switzerland. Amazing that we are in the mouth and you can’t see land on either side or the island in the middle of the mouth. The water is brown and the wave action lower but the horizon looks the same as being in the Caribbean. I missed entering the mouth but those that were on deck said the water gradually changed from the blue/emerald green of the Caribbean to the muddy brown of the Amazon.

You can only imagine how thrilling it is to be in the mouth of the Amazon River. Truly a pinch-me moment. As our art teacher, Zen, said today: “….enjoy. We may not be in this neighborhood again for a while”. I never thought I’d be here. This is the first time I’ve been to Brazil or on the continent of South America. I’m spending as much time as I can on deck just looking at the river and enjoying the air. Many interesting classes and lectures going on inside the ship. It is hard to make choices.

I woke at 5 a.m. with my sore throat. I noticed immediately that the smell in my room had changed. It changed to a dustier/mustier smell. A very pleasant earthy smell.

Next listened to Rocky Rohwedder speak on “Ecological Handprints”. He spoke on the rainforest, deforestation and slashing and burning. He says the forests lost in Brazil are the size of France. He said the Amazon has 600 habitats. He said the Amazon holds 10% of the world’s species. Electric dams are threats. There are 60. The Bel Monte on the Xingu is a huge one.

Listened to music after dinner and now to computer.

Astronomy professor was on deck 8 and the stars and moon were bright. Prof. Ian Campbell had his laser (which he claims is illegal) but it made it very easy to see the stars he was talking about. He had binoculars and we were able to look at some of the stars through that. He also has a delightful Scottish accent.

Went to Karaoke for a while.
Off to bed.

Posted by Linda K 19:42 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

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