Amazing Amazon – Diary Day 6

I get woken in my hammock by a canteen lady shaking me and saying ‘cafe!’ and beckoning! She’s letting me know we better come to breakfast if we don’t want to miss it but it seems really early!

Lara looks comfy in exactly the same position she fell asleep in last night! I go up to the cabin. My phone says its 06:36 – yesterday our phones automatically went back an hour as satellite decided we’d moved timezones. We know Manaus, our destination, now 200km away as the crow flies is in the ‘GMT-5 hour’ timezone but apparently on the boat they are still on ‘GMT-4 hours’! By the time we head to buy breakfast vouchers it’s too late but the lady gives me coffee and bread rolls anyway!

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A few times during our journey we have had a very sudden and luckily short-lived plague of moths. The first time, mid evening they appeared from nowhere on the top deck and swarmed around all the lights and up and down the corridor! Ben and some of the boys tried to swat them in vain as the girls screamed and ducked. We took refuge in the cabin and in the morning swarms of dead moths were on the decks but all the rest were gone! Then there were the beetles. Nasty looking black beetles, not as many as the moths! And at least they seemed to just land on deck rather than buzz around us!

There must have been quite a lot of them last night as there are several, some dead, some alive around the decks and corridors today.

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Ben sleeps all morning in the cabin while we spot a few more dolphins. They’re still too elusive for photos!

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Lara made friends with some little girls who got on yesterday and Martin, Zoe and I play rummy whilst we meander along the riverbank, seeing lots of clearings with small cattle ranches.

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Martin chats to a Systems Consultant for half an hour in Portuguese with the use of our phrase book and feels very chuffed! The man is traveling back to his home in the far north at Boa Vista near the Guyana border where Martin was on expedition with Raleigh. They have a good chat though he finds it difficult to explain Corporate Events and team building in Portuguese!!

We eat lunch at 11am which I guess is 12 to the people on the boat then Martin takes a siesta in a hammock while the kids take refuge in the cabin and I try to bear the heat reading and writing.

Lara spends the afternoon running around the boat with a growing troup of little friends – when I check on her she’s eating crisps and finishing someone’s Coke – she’s never had if before. It’s hard to explain she should have said no thanks!! She also seems to have struck up quite a rapport with the cafe man who has not only fed her a few lollies today but even a cheese toastie! She runs back to the cabin triumphant and shares it with Ben Zoe and me!

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The boat has turned off the engines a few times today and we heard there was some mechanical problem. The last time we stopped we drifted back downstream a little way, rather close to the bank and wondered what to expect next, but we soon started up again, though seem to be going a bit more slowly – checking the map and satellite, we are getting close to our destination, Manaus – this is a snapshot of where the are with Manaus starred as our destination. The data box shows speed (though this one must be inaccurate!) straight line distance to destination, latitude, longitude, height above sea level and satellite accuracy! Its made a big difference to the journey being able to track our progress and zoom in and out to see exactly where we are!

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Lara’s foot still looks odd though not troubling her at all – maybe a cluster of mosquito bites, we’ll get it looked at Manaus, meanwhile Ben discovered a strange lump on his toe that looked a bit like a large blister. Ben will tell more in his own blog and share photos… but suffice to say with the use of zoom photography, it wasn’t a blister but some insect had laid eggs inside his toe!!

It occurs to me that being on this boat gives the kids more freedom that they’ve ever known – it’s like living in a community where the kids go off with their friends all day and pop back when they need something. It’s easy enough to find them and check they’re ok or to drag them off for lunch!

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Martin has read 3 books in 6 days, more than in the whole previous year enjoying the occasional ice cold beer. It’s taken a while to get used to having nothing to do but we’re adapting pretty well!! Tonight we sit at the front of the boat with a sky full of stars around us, watching spectacular fork lightening in the far distance and the boat driver using his spot light to check for fishermen (presumably, as we spot a few who head quickly out of our path) as we hug the right hand bank. We wonder if we need to be this close to avoid the fast flowing part that would take us fast back downstream should the engines fail again!

I can’t believe this is already our last night on the Amazon Star. It will be nice to spend some time on dry land in Manaus but no one will object to catching another boat further up the river, I think 8 days to the border before we head onto Peru and Ecuador via Columbia!

When we go to find Lara for bed, we can’t see her with the other little kids, panic momentarily then find her fast asleep in the top bunk in the cabin with Ben and Zoe who are almost asleep on the bottom bunk.

Martin carries Lara down and pops her in a hammock. I crawl into the one beside her but it’s hard to sleep as there are a few restless noisy toddlers and babies. The baby boy next to Lara is wide awake and his Mum is swinging him wildly back and forth to try and calm him… I wonder if she might manage to catapult him across the deck but I fall asleep before she does!

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