Day 282 – Amazon Riverboat Day 7

Day 282 – Amazon Riverboat Day 7         05/30/11       Mileage: 0

Today I did more writing and enjoyed the passing scenery on what would be the last day out on the Amazon River. Though certainly very far from posh, it’s been a relaxing and memorable boat trip.

John and I talked to this guy who worked on the boat and he was a total crack-up! All he could talk about was banging chicks and although I know almost no Portuguese, some words come across loud and clear!   😉

Yet another stunning sunset over the Amazon River….

We pulled into Manaus late in the evening and were allowed to stay one more night on the boat.

Although late at night, the dock in Manaus was a frenzy of activity….

Tomorrow we’ll have to get the bikes off the boat, find someplace to stay in Manaus and hopefully have a look around town.

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Day 281 – Amazon Riverboat Day 6

Day 281 – Amazon Riverboat Day 6      05/29/11       Mileage: 0

Today I buckled down and sequestered myself in the cabin for most of the day to catch up on the writing for the blog which was now over 10 days behind. I left the door open so I could see the river passing by and took some time to walk the decks.

At night John, Ian and I did our best to lighten the ships hold of excess beer and had a great conversation with a Brazilian girl from Sau Paulo. Tomorrow we arrive in Manaus in the heart of the Amazon…

Day 280 – Santarem, Brazil and Amazon Riverboat Day 5

Day 280 – Santarem, Brazil and Amazon Riverboat Day 5      05/28/11      Mileage: 0

The boat got a late start from port which seems to be the norm, but if you’re in a rush this is not the way to go anyway.

Sunrise on the Amazon River….

Looking back at Santarem as we head upriver….

I spent the day mostly reading my guide book on the far north of Brazil and Venezuela, studying the maps and getting a rough plan for a route back to Colombia. Ironically, it was Ian’s birthday today so I’m not the only one to have a birthday on the boat! In the late afternoon I started chatting with 2 local gals from Manaus.

They didn’t speak any English but they seemed to somehow understand my terrible Spanish, so between that and some sign language we managed a conversation while they taught me some Portuguese. Learning a new language can be fun after all….  😉

Parting shot:  Another great sunset over the Amazon River….

Day 279 – Amazon Riverboat Day 4 to Santarem, Brazil

Day 279 – Amazon Riverboat Day 4 to Santarem, Brazil      05/27/11       Mileage: 0

This morning we docked in Santarem which marks the halfway point of the trip up the Amazon River, and we had to change boats to go the rest of the way to Manaus.

Pulling into Santarem….

There was a boat leaving in two hours which would not afford us any time to see Santarem, so we decided to catch another boat that was leaving tomorrow which would give us more time to explore Santarem and a nice river beach town nearby called Alter do Chao.

This is our next boat…the Ciudad de Santarem I….an old wooden boat….

The first priority was to get the bikes transferred to the boat leaving tomorrow which fortunately was docked next to ours, so that turned out to be a pretty easy affair.

The bikes strapped in on the Santarem I for their next ride up river…

Next we transferred our gear over and once that was all secured we wandered out along the waterfront for some lunch and to pick up a few items.

Here was me and Ian’s cabin on the Santarem I…and being a wood boat with no windows in the cabin, it was musty in their…

Lunch at a local food stand…

After all that was done we hired a taxi to take us to Alter do Chao about 30 minutes away. Upon arrival we saw that the water was so high that most of the beautiful sand beaches were underwater…but that’s what you get for visiting the Amazon in the rainy season.

Those thatched roofs normally have tables, chairs and ice cold beer under them…..but not today….

Undeterred, we hired a boat to take us out to the last sliver of beach with a bar that was still high and dry and knocked back a few beers.

 The cost of the taxi was pretty steep, so we decided to take the bus back which was an easy if not bouncy ride back to Santarem. John wasn’t feeling too good so he went straight back to the boat while Ian and I went for some dinner. We wandered around but didn’t see anything appealing until we saw an older woman with a street food stand in front of her house. It smelled good, looked good and it sure tasted good.

After we knocked back a few beers at a small street café before heading back to the boat…or, at least where the boat was! Crap….were the %$%$@# is the boat?! Some guys on the dock waved us toward the other end of the port, so we walked there…then walked to the other end….but no boat. WTF!? So we asked again were told all the way down the end of another port 2 kilometers away.

Finally found the boat…

Well, it was freakin’ hard to find and it took us 2 hours of walking, but we did eventually find the boat. Tomorrow we continue up the river deeper into the Amazon towards Manaus.

Day 278 – Amazon Riverboat Day 3

Day 278 – Amazon Riverboat Day 3       05/26/11        Mileage: 0

The scenery was again great and it seemed there was always something new or interesting to look at as you watch the world float by.

This is the view from the sink to brush your teeth….

Not all the bathrooms on the boat were as “nice” as ours. Notice the large bug on the wall on the left side of the picture….

We docked in a small river town of Almeirim to offload some cargo of vegetables and beer….work that is done entirely by hand.

We also bought some tasty fried pastels from the food venders that come down to the docks on bikes to meet the boat.

Back underway it was more great scenery along the river which I could and did watch for hours.

Here’s how most people travel the river boats….in hammocks….

Wonder where that road goes??

It was also my birthday today and the irony is, it was my father birthday yesterday and my parents are on a cruise in Alaska….so he celebrated his birthday on a boat in Alaska and I’m celebrating mine on a boat in the middle of the Amazon…although I can guarantee his accommodations are a bit nicer! John had snuck off the boat earlier while we were docked and tracked down a cake which was extremely thoughtful! So the highlight of the day, or night as it were, was having happy birthday sung to me in Portuguese by some Brazilians on the boat….here’s the video….

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After cutting and sharing the cake with the other passengers, I made up some capirinha’s with the limes we bought earlier and we washed them down with several beers. Unfortunately once the cachaca started flowing everyone forgot about the cameras…so no more pics….oh well! We laughed and had a boatload of fun…excuse the pun…and that was definitely one of the most memorable birthdays I’ve ever had….

Day 277 – Amazon Riverboat Day

Day 277 – Amazon Riverboat Day 2      05/25/11      Mileage: 0

Today was our first full day on the river and now that it’s daylight I could have a good look around the boat and the river. I’ll let the pictures do the talking….

Here are the bikes on the cargo deck….with the banana’s, limes, produce, motor oil and everything else….

Ian and I split a cabine…..sure isn’t Royal Caribbean!

The river is incredibly wide in some spots and very narrow in others as it splinters in to several parts around the islands.

The boat runs close to the shore when it runs up river so the kids that live in remote villages often paddle out to meet the boat…

This kid was using a kayak paddle…the only one I saw during the whole trip…..brite kid!

This boat doesn’t look like it’s gonna’ make it!

Locals with food or wares to sell will also paddle out to the boat and use a small hook to hook onto the boat, then get climb on and sell what they can and then unhook and paddle away….

Ian, John and I had a nice dinner on the top deck…nothing fancy mind you, but the setting was superb…

And to cap off a great day we were treated to a great sunset over the Amazon River….

Day 276 – Belem and Amazon Riverboat Day 1

Day 276 – Belem and Amazon Riverboat Day 1      05/24/11       Mileage: Local miles

After packing the bikes and checking out we headed to the port to hopefully get the bikes loaded onto the boat that will take the three of us up the Amazon River to Manaus. We have to load the bikes when the river tide is high so the dock and the boat cargo deck are close enough together….if the water is too low it’s very difficult or impossible to do. The dock is a chaotic place and with the language barrier it’s hard to get accurate answers. We are again told a different time and to come back in 4 hours….frustrating. So instead we headed for Alex’s motorcycle shop called Moto Mania a few kilometers away….something we were going to do anyway.

We hung around the shop for a while and did a little work on John’s bike to stop an oil leak. With that done we said goodbye and thanks to Alex who has been a great host and made our stay in Belem infinitely more enjoyable and fun. On the way back we grabbed a quick burger and then it was back to the dock. Riding out on the dock into the chaotic scene, people were waving at me but I wasn’t quite getting what they wanted (read ignoring what they wanted)…..so I continued riding slowly up the pier and pulled off to the side near the boat. Well, a fellow in a black shirt with a gun comes storming up the pier yelling and seems to be pretty upset with me. After we “exchanged” some words he stormed off back down the pier. A dock worker standing nearby pointed at the guy and said he was military police, then made the universal sign for a gun with his hand and pointed it at me and said bang. He was trying to say that that guy could or would shoot me. Oh well, what’s done is done….and right now getting the bikes on the boat was the number one concern.

The tide of the river was still not exactly right after all that and the boat cargo deck was some 4 ft. lower than the dock. A ramp wouldn’t work because the bikes were too tall now to clear the opening into the boat.

The only way now was to hand the bikes down which was something we were trying to avoid, as it requires hiring dock hands which adds a layer of BS to the process. At first they wanted more than 30 Reals for each bike, so we told them it was too much and started to load the bikes ourselves…and in the end we did get some help and paid only 5 Reals per bike….which is what Alex said was a fair rate.

In this video, we loaded Ian’s Yamaha Tenere first followed by my KLR….

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Once the bikes were onboard and safely stowed for the trip up river, we stashed our bags and went to the top deck to see about some beers….which we enjoyed while taking in the frenzy of activity on the docks and the now darkened skyline of the city.

She was checking our tickets…high heals in a cargo hold, sure why not!

Those carts are stacked with cases of beer…at least we won’t run out!

 Looking back at the city lights of Belem…

Shortly after 11pm…almost 5 hours late, our boat, the Ciudad de Santarem II, pushed away from the dock and headed up river…we were finally on our way up the Amazon…