Well, I remembered to take the camera this time. Not that much in the way of pics, though, as the sun steadfastly (and happily) refused to shine throughout. Charlie and I set off to Lago da Piranha on Saturday afternoon on the first leg, me in the Shamrock, and Charlie in HMS Invincible (pic), to Paulo’s flutuante (pic) in Iranduba, where we spent the night with Paul, Robson and various others whose names I can’t remember. After numerous caipirinhas (cachaça, limes, ice and sugar) and sausages and rice, I spent a good night in my Hennessy Hammock, slung on Charlie’s battleship.
On day two, we took off up the river Solimões, stopping to refuel at Manacapuru. A mild panic attack took place at the petrol station when I had to use all my money for petrol and had none left for beer, but Charlie stumped up for 24 cans, which we felt was probably enough for the one night we would spend at Lago Piranha, so I proceeded in relaxed form. We crossed Lago Cabaliana and entered the canal for Lago Piranha, stopping at Francisco’s flutuante to get permission to continue on. This caused some discussion, as Francisco’s flutuante is, erm, rather basic. The main room has no furniture – I mean none, and there is no electricity, no TV, no radio, no road…just miles of water, kind of surrounded by, um, water. When we arrived, Francisco’s (understandably large) family were seated comfortably on the floor in the spacious lounge. Doing exactly what, is a mystery to me, but there they all were. Anyway, Francisco joined us, permission evidently granted, and we were off again to the lake, some 6km further on.
After wandering round the lake for a while, we fixed on a spot at the south side, near some trees (flooded forest, or igapó
). I thought this would be a good time to open the beer, but Charlie had other ideas, and I was persuaded to accompany him and another guy to set a fishing net in the igapó. Out came the little boats (pic), and we were off. I vaguely remember Charlie saying something about carapana
(mosquitoes), but nothing could prepare me for what was waiting. It was like walking into wall of mosquitoes. What they had been doing all year without us to feast on, I have no idea, but I can only suppose that while we were at Francisco’s, the word had gone round the mosquito grapevine – and they were ready for us. So we spent about 45 minutes paddling around fighting them off pretty unsuccessfully and laying the net, and finally returned to the boats. Up to this point, I never could understand how Pizarro’s team, attempting to find El Dorado in the Amazon, lost something like 9900 of his original complement of 10000 men and animals. Hmm. Now I do.
Anyway, back at the boats, a bit of alcohol soothed away the effects of the bites and I was quite looking forward to
a pleasant, drunken night’s sleep when suddenly it was time to check the nets. Did I want to go and help them check the nets, Charlie asked. Did I want to cut off my left leg and eat it for supper? ‘It’s okay’, I was told – ‘it’s dark now, and the carapana are sleeping’. Ha ha, very funny, I thought. But I went anyway, and right enough, it was much better this time. So there you are – mosquitoes do sleep at night, it appears.
Back at the boat, more beer, more of Robson’s excellent caipirinha, and this time I decided to sling my hammock in the Shamrock.
Well, the Shamrock is a lovely boat, but it’s not really ideal for hammocks. I slept fitfully and had to get up to adjust my bits every now and
then (and get rid of some of the beer and caipirinha). But the night passed, and I awoke to an excellent 5:45 sunrise. Since everyone else was still sleeping, I decided to push off on my own to do some fly fishing. Fly fishing is not very common in Brazil, and with good reason – an hour and a half later I returned with nothing more than a lot of weed wrapped around my propeller. In my absence, the rest of them had gone off to check the nets again (and welcome to it), and this time returned with a modest catch (pic), including Pirarucu
, Tucunare (Peacock Bass) and Piranha. Yeah, but fly fishing is more fun, isn’t it…?
We were off again by mid morning, back to deposit Francisco at his flutuante, have some lunch, and then head off to
Paulo’s place at Iranduba. We arrived just as the rain did (thankfully), and settled down to more beer and caipirinha. While we relaxed, Junior was tasked with washing down the horses (pic),
while everyone else shouted encouragement and directions from the comfort of the verandah. Good plan. An excellent dinner of bacon and rice followed for me, while everyone else tucked into fish I think (what else, I suppose?). While Paulo went off to watch a soap on TV, Charlie, Robson and I polished off the rest of the caipirinha (well, we left Robson to it eventually – he’s younger than us and needs his alcohol more). Charlie and I headed off to bed (in Charlie’s case) and hammock (in my case).
I slept well, and Charlie and I headed back to Manaus early in the morning, before the weather got its act together. The cruise along a flat-calm Rio Negro at a steady 20 knots in the early morning sun was fantastic, and I arrived back at my marina at 09:00, with some of the catch which Charlie had given me for Naice. Tired, but very happy.