We set off on a pleasant Sunday morning. The river was calm and peaceful, the boat was ticking over nicely, God was in his heaven etc etc. Our mission was to map the Rio Taruma. More specifically, to survey the infrastructure. In fact, to acquaint the general public with all the floating bars on the river. We knew it was a tough assignment, and would require all our diligence, courage, commitment and stamina if we were to pull it off successfully. But we felt we had the right team. Ian, our software engineer (and Team Leader), apart from being able to publish the results and make them available via mobile commuinications technology, was also an experienced drinker; Professor John, our resident biologist and guide, would help ensure we didn’t run aground or miss anything of botanical interest; Captain John, taking a break from command of the Alyson, would provide much needed ballast and keep us on our toes with his enquiring mind; and I was there to steer the boat and add my local knowledge of some of the relevant infrastructure.
Our first stop was at the floating petrol station, to fill up with cans of Skol, and then we were off! It was a gruelling time, as we zig-zagged up and down the Taruma, stopping to replenish supplies of Skol, take photographs of anything of interest (freshly caught Tucunare, for example), and ask the names of various hotels and floating bars. We navigated as far as the junction of the two principal igarapes which join to form the mainstream Taruma, and slid gently back down to make our first serious stop. This was a quiet floating bar situated away from the mainstream entertainments area. At least it was until we arrived, at which point several other vessels also tied up and proceeded to flood the bar with the usual high-volume, distorted pagode music and discharge various crew and passengers. But it was too late – we had already ordered our food, and were in mid-Skol (pic.). After this we continued our journey until we came to the Marquee bar, near the local jumping off point for speedboat taxis going up the Rio Negro. More Skol, increasingly silly conversation, and suddenly it was time to head back home. The whole trip had taken us 6 hours, and we had survived – tired, but content. For more on this, with various pics., take a look at Ian’s blog: http://ianlawrence.info/random-stuff/river-trails. He will be creating a website for this stuff in due course, and we will all be rich and famous.