Three weeks today since we left Belem aboard the Amazon Star and began our journey westward along the Amazon.
Martin and Lara wake me soon after 6am and I join them for breakfast and sunrise! Going up on the top deck I realise we’ve run aground on a mud bank for no obvious reason! Wondering if it could really be pilot error we watch with interest but are told by our Portuguese friend that its a deliberate stop! Soon, we pull back, continue 10 minutes upstream then repeat – headlong into the bank – It’s a stop for local boats to come and stock up and soon there are half a dozen boats attached and filling up with provisions. Always a few bags and boxes of real looking basic foodstuff – pulses, rice, manioc flour, always a few stacks of fizzy drink and crisps! The first stop was presumably a misjudgment as these mud banks all look identical to me and maybe the crew?
We are stopped for a few hours then on our way again.
Ben and Zoe sleep in and when Zoe eventually wakes she is sick.
Ben and Lara’s tummies aren’t quite right either so the cabin becomes a bit of a sick room and though it’s rather cramped, I’m relieved we have a cabin at all. For the first time I have to go use the public banhieros because I can’t get a look in to use ours (!) They are not the most pleasant to spend any amount of time in!
Zoe sleeps on and off all day, I read some more Adolphus Tips to them. Ben and Lara rally and go off to play, Ben spends a couple of hours taking photos and making silly movies which he plays back to Zoe to cheer her up, I read to the girls a bit, sort photos on the laptop, read a bit myself mostly in the cabin, keeping Zoe company. Martin is ‘luckily’ engrossed in a book and spends most of the day reading in the hammock. Whenever I come out of the cabin, I check on my map and ‘sat nav’ where we are as we edge ever closer to Tabatinga but it’s slow going.
After supper, around 18:30, as the kids settle in the cabin with Harry Potter, Martin and I settle in the hammocks to enjoy the evening breeze as the sun sets, I check again and we’re only 48km as the crow flies, so I think we’ve definitely got another night before we arrive. At least, I truly hope we don’t arrive and get thrown off at some absurd hour of the morning!!!!
Spoken too soon….. Suddenly we’re in dock around 11pm. Almost everyone starts leaving and we find our plan to stay on board the night scuppered by news that the boat leaves at 4am to head back into Brazil.
So after a hurried packing frenzy, we say goodbye to the crew and step off onto a dark muddy steep bank into a deserted port. It’s nearly midnight but still stiflingly hot, the kids are exhausted and we’re all pretty uncomfortable. We have to walk 10 minutes up a deserted dark street into the deserted town, waking and upsetting a few dogs who howl at us as we go. In the town’s main street there’s a single bar still open and the small and cheap Hotel Real which is our only option so we have a drink in the bar with our friends who we met on the boat and check in for out last night in Brazil. It’s been just over 10 weeks since we arrived in Rio de Janiero. The time has flown!!