A Travellerspoint blog

Amazon Jungle Trip

semi-overcast 30 °C

(Please note it takes ages to downlad photos on this blog so we will be adding more photos to enrties on after we have posted them)
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From Manaus we ventured into the jungle overnight. We reached our jungle camp by a 3 hour bus journey then motor boat. The camp was made entirely from wood, no electricity and employs only local people. As it's the rainy season there was only us and 1 German traveller staying there. flooded_forest.jpgThis meant that we had the luxury of our own guide. During rainy season the water level is 7-8 meters higher than in the dry season. trees.jpgThis means that the trees are either underwater or just their tops are out. We took a canoe through the canopy of the flooded forest, which in some places so dense that our boat only just made it through. jungle_flood.jpgWe saw cappuchin monkeys and caimen, but this was nothing to the excitement of Antonio, our guide, to the grey squirrel we saw!jungle.jpg On the way back from the forest, it rained jungle style i.e. hard and long. There was a wall of rain behind us on the water approaching faster than we could row away until inevitably we got drenched.

At night we went out again by canoe alligator spotting. They find the alligators by the red reflected by the eyes from a tourch beam. Our guide was able to find a baby alligator in the pitch dark at 100 meters and even managed to scoop it up into our boat so that we could see it up close.
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The following day we went for a long trek into the jungle and were shown, Ray Mears style, the medicinal uses of all the plants. There's a tree thats sap smells like vicks sinex! We got to drink from a vine and even have a go with the machete. There's these ants that if you get them to cover your hand and then rub them in quickly before getting bitten, they act as mosquito repellent. Unfortunately the camera was playing up and Dan had to keep his hand in a bit longer than advisable so has a few small bites! The whole trip was really enjoyable.

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We also went to see the meeting of the waters in Manaus, where the black and white rivers meet, but don't mix for 10km. It's really strange and there's even a big difference in temperature. waters.jpg

The next morning we took our first flight which has brought us a few hundred km closer to Peru, but still a few hundred km and 2 sleeper bus journeys away. We hope to make it into Peru sometime this week and will probably head to Cusco as our first stop.

Posted by DanSue 11:16 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Amazon Boat Trip

Our arrival into the city of Belem, the gateway to the mighty Amazon River was made with out incident apart from it being May 1. It turns out that that they don’t round all bank holidays up to the Friday or Monday so we found every thing shut on a Thursday apart from our hotel. It being May Day we find a large protest march running through the city. Sores of people waving reds flags, chanting and wearing red noises with cops in full riot gear looking menacingly on. We never did find out what was going on but it all ended peacefully enough.
After a night we made our move to the river boat that would be our home for the next 6 nights. It was only supposed to be four nights but this is how things work in the Amazon apparently. The boat had three decks. The bottom for cargo, the middle for people in hammocks and the top was a makeshift bar. The middle deck was full by the time we set off three hours late. About 80 hammocks cramed into a space made for half that number. 47b8db29b3..LVszcsp.jpgWe were at the end of this hammock line but still had people in very close quarters Hammocks were strung above and below each other all through out the deck. You got to know your neighbors very well. We were well fed for the 7 days we were on the boat albeit the meals were the same very day. The showers and toilets were a bit grim but nothing too bad even though you were sharing them with everybody else.
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Nothing prepares you for how beautifully amazing the Amazon River is. It can be so wide that you are sure you are out at sea only seeing the faintest line of trees in the distance. You are also surrounded by dense jungle on either side with the odd clearing every now and again for a few small houses. amazon_house.jpgKids as young as 4 or 5 would row out to the boat to play in the wake or get a small gift thrown by one of the passengers.
7 days on a boat is not as boring as it first may sound. There is always something to look at. We would see pink river dolphins almost every day, toucans, macaws and a world of bugs would greet you in the night. You could also just chat everybody else on the boat. My Portuguese is a little better because of it. We also acted as makeshift babysitters on a few occasions. I don’t think I’ll forget little Gabriel and his mother who we nicknamed “trouble” for reasons we haven’t got time to mention in this entry.
I would recommend this trip to any one who loves a bit of adventure. It was a experience I for one will never forget.

Posted by DanSue 11:10 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Up North

Moving further North towards the great Amazonas. Jumping from town to town with long mind and arse numbing bus journeys seeing us between them. One night in Fortaleza and then in Sao Luis. Neither town particularly remarkable by Brazilian standards but nice enough for a well earned rest after so much bus travel.
While looking for somewhere to stay in Sao Luis we stumbled across what has to be one of the grottiest little hotels I have had the displeasure to set eyes on. The Landlord took us though the kitchen behind a busy restaurant, down an ally way that appeared to have been directly taken from the Dickensian imagination of east end of Victorian London then down into what looked like a dungeon. The half plastered stone walls in the room were damper than the mangrove swamp we had planned to see the next day. A slight blush of mould green highlighted the damp and misery. We didn’t feel that we should breathe the air it was so musty. A single rusty iron framed bed stood like a shipwreck in the corner of the rooms hiding a multitude of stains and bad memories under grey covers. And then there was the smell….Years of festering rot and decay invaded our nostrils and made our eyes water. The landlord smiled at us with a expectant, “well?”. We have both stayed in pretty terrible rooms in our time and I don’t like to bash humble abodes but when the shower bleeds insects and mud when turned on, you know that this is not the room for you. I wouldn’t have minded as much if it were dirt (literally) cheap but it turned out to be a lot more expensive than the other, cleaner hostel we ended up staying in.
The next day we took a trip to a small village called Raposa. It was set just outside beautiful mangrove swamps that were lined with giant sand dunes. We took a trip by boat, watching the sea eagles and other wildlife fly and scurry about. After a bit of dune jumping we headed home to catch another bus to Belem and got caught in the biggest thunderstorm on the way to the bus. We were so wet that the taxi driver who took us to the bus station asked us if we'd mind sitting on the floor mats rather than directly on the seats.
We set off on Friday for our 5 day Amazon boat trip where hammocks will be our beds and insect repellent our constant companion!

Posted by DanSue 10:42 Comments (0)

Recife

sunny 32 °C
View Itinery on DanSue's travel map.

There is a warning that comes with this city, which is not to enter the sea further than a paddle as you'll be got by sharks. There have been 19 fatal shark attacks in the last 15 years and over 30 other 'shark incidents', whatever they may be... So we've not been to the beach here and have stuck to hanging out in the city, which incidentially has the highest murder rate in Brazil... It does say that as tourists we're much more likely to get mugged or pickpocketed than murdered or got by sharks though, so that's encouraging.
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Other than that it's a nice enough place and the people are really friendly. We leave tomorrow to head further up the coast towards Belem, where our Amazon adventure begins. After this we're going to head into Peru. We're hoping we can pick up a cheap flight, as otherwise it could involve several days on a bus.

We went to a ceramic sculpure garden of Francisco Brennand yesterday - 'sexualised earthworms' was the description given to some of the sculptures. When we finally sort out our site for sharing all our holiday snaps you'll be abe to see for yourselves. It was a way out of town so we had to get a taxi and we even found our taxi driver wandering amid the sculptures with a bemused look on his face.worm.jpg

We've just been round a shopping centre which until recently was the local prison and all the shops are in the cells.

Very much enjoying the local customs of cake for breakfast and if it's a bank holiday, beer.

To look at our photos, the website is http://dansue3.shutterfly.com

Posted by DanSue 13:52 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Salvador - a night of Candomble

This entry may be a little hard to explain...

Candomble is a type of religion/spirituality that occurs throughout Bahia. Last night we went to a ceremony in one of the Favellas here. We were accompanied by a tour guy from the favella and a motley collection of 7 other travellers. Being a bit sceptical that we may be visting a 'show' put on for the benefits of us tourists soon disappeared when we arrived at a small house where it seemed the entire local community were crammed, and a scattering of us tourists.
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I was seated with the women and Dan the men. There was lots of drumming and singing (some cracking tunes infact) and several people went into a trance assisted by the lead guy who shook bells at them and an older lady whose job it was to make sure their cigars stayed lit throughout. Those in the trance disappeared upstairs and returned some time later in different dress. They wandered though the audience to more singing and drumming then stood in a line whilst everyone went up individually and were 'cleansed' of evil that inflitrates all of us. I declined to go up as not having the first idea what was going on at the time I felt it could have been a bit superficial and tokenistic to try to somehow take part. Everyone who was there, young and old took part with many people being profoundly affected by the experience.

From doing some research and visiting a couple of local musems it appears that these ceremonies happen sproadically throughout the year and at specific houses. As many of the people in Salvador have their roots in slavery, their ancestory is largely unknown. The homes in which these ceremonies take place are grouped into areas where people belive their ancestors were from e.g. areas of West Africa. The guys who go into the trance-like state connect with these ancestors and thus connect them with the people attending.

As well as having religious and spiritual roots, Candomble appears to also have a role in connecting communities together and in providing ancestory and roots that were taken when people were enslaved.

One of the local colleges with the local community has mapped back ancestory where it can and tried to put names and faces to the ancestory of some of these houses.

As I say, hard to explain, but a fascinating and moving experience.

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Salvador

Capiora.jpgDan introducing the shin kick into Caipoiera

Posted by DanSue 11:02 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

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