Amazing Amazon – Diary Days 17-18

Day 17

I’m rudely woken in my hammock on the Voyager IV by the bell calling us to 6am breakfast! After it goes a third time at about 6.20am, I peel myself out of the hammock and head off to wake Martin in the cabin!

The girls are snuggled up together on the bottom bunk but quickly wake up. Ben is much more reluctant to be woken from his hammock! ”I was in a really deep sleep and I don’t even like this breakfast!” he moans and I promise to let him sleep through tomorrow!

Breakfast is a bread roll, margarine and milky sweet coffee! It’s good to sit out on deck with it, passing the banks of the river as the sun climbs in the sky.

Martin enjoys another good book in a hammock and the children do various schoolwork activities on and off through the morning with me. We have quite a lot of fun – we need to, or we’d go crazy in our little cabin!!! It’s good we’ve brought some biscuits and fruit and can have little breaks and rewards to keep us going!

Before lunch, Ben and and I sit on deck playing a world map quiz on my phone then he, Zoe and I play Rummicub before lunch at 11.30am!

After lunch the kids take turns with Martin for some Daddy-style maths up on deck. Zoe goes first – Ben is making a South American map with me and Lara is flitting around like a little social butterfly who periodically returns to try and persuade me to feed her a treat!

She has scavenged crisps and drinks from a fellow passenger by hanging out with them at the bar then when they buy something she says ‘my mum says I can have a drink and a snack but I don’t have any money!’ – that was yesterday, today they’ve wised up so she’s back trying with me!

We can see the water levels are really low now, well into the dry season, but also how high the levels were earlier in the year in the wet season where there must have been a lot of flooding. We were told that the water was higher in 2012 than for over 50 years.

In 48 hours the boat hasn’t stopped and we’ve barely passed any towns, not seen a phone signal, just small villages along the way. This boat operates like a floating shop, smaller boats pull up alongside it, we slow our speed and they purchase provisions from the stock deck!!

It looks like we’ve travelled over half way from Manaus to Tabatinga in the first 2 days… I wonder how it will take another 5 to get there, perhaps we have some long stops ahead, otherwise we’ll surely get there a couple of days early?!

Tonight a treat! Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix – film no 5 – Me and the kids squeeze into the bottom bunk to watch… Martin stays on the top bunk with a good book! By the end Lara is fast asleep so Ben and I creep off to the hammocks and play Scrabble together on my iPhone !!!

Day 18
I wake up about 3am – it’s really noisy and I realise there is a boat moored to us and they are loading goods into it.

It’s cold in the hammock and when I wake up again just before 6am, it’s raining and windy so I go off to the cabin and get some leggings and my fleece jacket, Martin gets up too and when we go outside, they have pulled down the plastic around the sides to keep out the driving rain. The coffee and bread somehow tastes delicious.

When I check on the girls they’re just waking but Ben sleeps in till after 10am.

It’s Saturday, I consider whether we should say it’s the weekend and time off schoolwork or whether to carry on. It’s such a good way to use our time and keep from getting bored that we keep going, but take an easier pace. We finish The Butterfly Lion and Zoe does another Maths session with Dad and some English work while Ben reads another book and Lara does a little colouring and letters.

After lunch we pull towards a town that has floating shops and even a floating gas station along its banks. It’s called Jutai. We moor against another cargo boat and the afternoon is a frenzy of unloading and selling! We stay for a good 5 or 6 hours. So this is one of the long stops that helps explain how we still have another three nights and days before reaching Tabatinga which is now just 388km as the crow flies.

There are some crazy party celebrations going on in the town. The street which slopes up from the port is full of flag waving revellers letting off fireworks or fire crackers, people are out in what seem to be party boats. We’re told it’s part of the lead up to an election and apparently it’s a four month long party, though I can’t imagine it?!

Ben manages to get himself involved in unloading stuff with the boat guys and discovers just how heavy some of the sacks of flour, beans etc are. We see that the main products being delivered here and sold up and down the river seem to be bottles of coke, fanta and other local sodas. It seems awful that these products find their way to even the remotest places and are replacing healthy drinks everywhere! I suppose if the alternative is chlorinated and filtered brown river water then I’d choose fanta too!

We play Zoe’s travel ludo before and after supper up on deck where we can also see what’s going on on the docks.

This town is a hub for the region with people coming to the floating shops from all around.

We finally leave about 21:30, we are up on the top deck where theres just a bar and seating area – a large and very tame moth keeps landing on people so we take some photos. Who said moths are not beautiful too?!

Soon after, we turn in, it’s a cold night. Martin’s in the hammock and I’m in the cabin where it’s hard to regulate the temparature and I’m turning the air con on and off all night!!! All three kids are snuggled on the bottom bunk at first but it’s musical beds! Lara steals Bens sleep sheet, Zoe steals Lara’s. Ben pulls on his school player layers to get warm, takes my sleep sheet and goes off to the hammocks, Lara comes up to snuggle with me!! It’s a long night!

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