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Published: January 19th 2008
Having been back in South America a week or so i have already amassed enough useless currency to create an epic cash themed collage
I got into Georgetown and decided to leave. I cant quite decide if it was because it looked a bit shady or because i want to see other places. Possibly a bit of both of combined with my relatively limited time on the continent. However on the way back to Georgetown airport i saw some bloke been “escorted” out of his car seemingly against his will, dodgy dodgy. I would have caught the bus straight down to the Brazilian border from Georgetown but the roads south were closed for the foreseeable future because of the rainy season. So i decided to fly from Georgetown to Boa Vista. As it turns out this was just as cheap as getting a bus. It was a good job i arrived back at Georgetown airport in plenty of time as i questioned by immigration officers for ages. It got particularly drawn out partially because of the immigration officers inability to read and also because of the zig zag nature of my trip! This combined with the fact i put unemployed
on all my immigration forms probably gives off the distinct vibe that i am a wrongen. I had to save myself from laughing or giving silly answers when been questioned purely because the questions are so absurd and repetitive. It got to the stage where i had to tell him of my future plans as regards travel, how i got my money, why i had money, why i was in Guyana and finally i think this finished him off, my travel itinerary since leaving England. This last bit was drawn out and i think i satisfied his curiousty. At the back of my mind was the fact that this bloke has the right to authorise the violation of body with a latex glove.
After a seemingly endless interrogation i flew out of Guyana and into Brazil. I think i stayed in Boa Vista for a good 3 hours before getting an overnight bus down to Manaus. This was a bumpy trip that took a good 14 hours. I was happy just to be on the bus because the first two people at the bus office who asked about this service said it was full up! This trip was pretty
me and cow, Alcantara
the cow was looking a bit frustrated by this point. However it didnt look half as big as your average english beast so i was willing to take it on
much memorable for the vomit capacity of the kid besides me.
The hostel in Manaus was a bit of a find really. Mango and star fruit trees above the courtyard, free to eat at your leisure. The only problem with Manaus at this time of year is that the rainy season is in full motion. It rains from about 7 in the morning till midday. At the same time it is about 35 degrees. This makes the place incredibly humid. I came to Manaus with the idea of doing some trip into the “real” Amazon. Evidently this is a bit of a rip off and possibly even a little disappointing, even positive people couldn't force it out of themselves to say it was good. I think this is possibly i combination of unrealistic expectations and just the fact it is the Amazon. I think people expect a crocodile or dolphin to pop up and say hello to them. As i result i decided against doing any trip and decided that the ferry trip up from Manaus to Belem would be my Amazon experience.
From Manaus you literally had the choice of heading West to Tabitinga which is where
shall teach you from walking in a tropical storm Alessandra and Joquim ;
the Brazilian, Columbian and Peruvian borders meets or east to Belem which is on the Atlantic coast of Brazil. The ferries take 7 and 5 days respectively. I decided to head east and further away from from my final destination. I think down at the ferry port Brazil started to appeal to me a bit more so i thought i better check it out.
Quite honestly i don't think anything in my life could have prepared me for the ferry from Manaus to Belem. To get to the ferry port we had to leg it down to the the port in a tropical storm. Once on the good ship Santarem the chaos was plain to see. We arrived so late virtually all the hammock space was taken up. Not been used to this way of travel I tried to be polite and not infringe on anyone's hammock space. However it quickly became apparent that this really is the wrong way to go about it. The only way is to get stuck in so to speak and put your hammock wherever there is an inch of potential space. Once my hammock was up i sat on it for a good
Manaus to Belem
Me and Chris. It was Excruciatingly hot on our floor of boat. Chris also had an intense bout of Dengue Fever
2 hours making sure no chancer tried to pull it down and put his up. I was quite taken a back by how severely cramped the boat was. Add to this the dead cow carcases (used for our food) hanging up not far from us, been cooked by the heat of the engine with the blood collecting on the floor. Next to the cow were rubbish bags. However there were surprisingly few of these as most people on the boat chuck surprisingly liberal amounts of rubbish into the Amazon. Anyhow im sure you can imagine the collective smell of congealed blood, rubbish and human body odour after five days in a confined space, pretty horrific.
Thankfully on the trip there were a few English speaking people on board. The best way to escape the crying baby's, heat and general smell is to drink a beer or 10 on the top deck. I did this with considerable gusto and thoroughly enjoyed my little cruise up the Amazon. On the ferry it helps to get involved in two Brazilian pastimes. These are domino's and dancing. Don't do dancing but can do dominos. Funnily enough it dosent seem to be about the
winning here in Brazil it more about the style,precision and power with which you place your domino on the table. Five idle days on the Amazon is the perfect place to hone my domino skills. Not quite at the stage of breaking a plastic table just yet, give it time.
On top of all this there was Douglas the captain. This man could have written a book about all the experiences he has had on the boat in the last 20 years. These range from Anaconda's' snatching kids of the jetties and been hacked to death with machetes by irate parents to Americans picking there future wives off floating rafts in the middle of the Amazon.
I think 5 days was just about right, any longer and i think serious cabin fever would have started to set in. Also after five days of beef, rice and beans 2 times a day it was time for a change of cuisine ! All in all it was great replacement for my aborted Amazon trip in Manaus and id like to think it gave me a good view of how some of the Amazons inhabitants live. However the Amazon
barreirinhas sand dunes
Chris in a full on tropical strom
is a rather large place so maybe not.
I hung around in Belem for a few days then got another night bus down to Sao Luis. In south America they insist on having powerful air conditioning because of the heat outside. The only problem on this bus was that it resembled an Arctic chiller. Ihas goosebumps for the first time since cycling over arthurs pass god knows how many months ago. I stayed around in Sao Luis for a few days then got on a number of converted pick up trucks to get to Parnaiba. This is mainly because no real roads exist in this part of the country and between Barreinhass and Paulinho Nerves especially you literally go up and down over about 4 hours worth of sand dunes. This is a fun/different way of travelling and also extremely cheap.
As of now i am in Parnaiba. I am only really here so i can book a flight down to the border with Paraguay and Argentina. I would be flying there sooner if it was not for the flight prices at the moment. As of carnival time (2nd feb) the prices drop dramatically. So i am probably
going to place called Jericoacoara for the next couple of weeks where a shall sit in the sun a hopefully save a bit of money for the next leg of my journey.
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