11 February 2009

In Country: Scenes from the Amazonas, Solimoes and Tapajos Rivers

Looking back I realize I did not post any pictures of our boat trip down the river. The following is a sample of some of the 300 photos I took on while on the Amazonas.
Under an Amazon sky
Contrary to North American stereotypes of steep mountainous jungles tangling down to the river's bank (which is the case in the Andes), the Amazon basin here in Brasil is surprisingly flat. According to recent NASA satellite imagery, geographers have determined that the Amazon is 4,250 miles long. In addition most of the 2,900 miles that are located inside Brasil are at sea level, thereby making the landscape very flat. As a result there is a startling sameness to the sky, water and land.
Creative carrying capacity was on display in the harbor in Manaus. Note the bicycle, refrigerator and stove on this small lanche (motor boat), and the amazing ability of the men to heft huge items around like this guy carrying a full size refrigerator on his head!

A boat crewman waiting for passengers.
These boats are used like buses on the Amazon. Indeed, there are no roads that go from Manaus to Belem so the only way to get from the interior to the coast is by air or by boat. Hence the river functions as a roadway network. Typically the overnight boats are comprised of three decks. Locals string up their hammocks in the middle decks and sleep swinging in a common area that can be very crowded.

Hope, assessing the life boat capacity on our boat.

Cooks, waiting for departure.

At the juncture of the Solimoes and Negro Rivers, the waters come together but do not mix. The Solimoes is muddy brown while the Negro is black, hence its name. Where they meet the waters swirl together in interesting shapes that look a lot like coffee con leite (coffee with milk).
And always the river and the sky.
Wildlife at the dock in Santarem

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