Picture Yourself… Part Dois

Ah yes…our expedition…well, it had just rained on us while we cooked our delicious lunch of, er, coffee. Or maybe we had something more substantial. At any rate, whatever it was was obviously very memorable. Fortunately the rain duly passed, and as we refurled our rain covers and headed out into the lake again, a boat with a few people in it whizzed past us and headed off down our original path. Hmm.  We figured there was some chance they might know something we didn’t (lots of scope there, then), and since we had no other obvious alternatives other than waiting around for night to fall, we turned and followed.

Detour Detail
Detour Detail
This guy wasn’t hanging around. He had a smaller boat, with no canopy, and we had our work cut out to follow him through the flooded forest. We sped back through the trees, getting closer and closer to the point where our path was blocked, and getting increasingly hopeful that he would turn off somewhere and flick through a small channel we had missed, onto the river we knew was out there somewhere. But we passed every little avenue we had seen (and explored) on our two weary passes up and down the channel, and finally we arrived at the spot where capim firmly blocked the way. Both boats stopped, and I called over to the other boat. “And now?” I shouted. “We’ve already been down here – there’s no way through!”  A patient sort of look crossed the face of the man in the other boat. “Da, sim,” he nods (oh yes there is). Beckoning us to follow, and with no further ado, off he plunges into the middle of the trees to the left.  Now one of the advantages of having a boat with no canopy is that you can do this sort of thing (if the sun and the rain haven’t already flayed the back off you), but we with our little superstructure generally just get so caught up in the branches that we need a chainsaw to get free – and of course while we’re stuck there, armies of fire ants that have been waiting for us for decades swarm onto the boat to nibble on our toes while swarms of mosquitoes line up for the attack on any juicy flesh left exposed.  So we hung back, waiting to see what would happen to our intrepid colleagues. Suddenly, they were calling at us from the other side of the blocked channel “It’s fine – come on through!”. Sceptical though we were, we decided we should at least investigate further – particularly as the other boat seemed to be waiting for us and might be able to help us if we became entangled. So we pushed in slowly, trying to follow the wake of the other boat – Mark at the front and me alternately in the middle and at the back as necessity dictated. Apart from a lot of horrible rending noises and a sticky bit trying to haul ourselves through or around 3 awkwardly-placed trees, we were in and out – a bit sweaty, but largely unscathed – within 5 minutes. And there – once we had thanked our guide, we saw the mythical beautifully clear channel we’d been searching for. Once again, we were on our way!

speed

It was now getting on a bit in the day – our little 35km detour having taken almost exactly 4 hours –  so we wasted little time on following our course. There was a reasonable prospect of us reaching the (unplanned) staging post of the town of Anamã. The river now was a light brown in colour (they call it “white” water here, to distinguish it from the black water of the Negro), which was clear evidence of the ingress of the powerful and rising River Solimões, and I for one did not relish the prospect of camping out on white water on our first night, with its attendant mozzies and other biting things.

Bursting banks

Bursting banks

So apart from stopping to look more closely at a few spots where the river was just beginning to burst its banks and flood the surrounding farmland, we fairly sped our way southwest along the meandering channel.

We duly arrived at Anamã at 17.30 – just in time to find somewhere to moor the boat and try to locate a hotel of some description.

Anama Mooring

Anama Mooring

The former was taken care of by the owner of a floating store next to the official port building, and the latter by a small wood-built hotel which offered all mod-cons – including air conditioning, an internet connection (in spite of the fact that there were no phones in the town and no mobile phone coverage), and clean sheets. Happy days. Having sorted all this lot out, retrieved our stuff from the boat and had a shower, we headed off in search of beer and food.

Anama Hotel

Anama Hotel

 In the end, we reflected while sipping beer at a small bar on the riverside, it had been a successful conclusion to day one:  distance covered 278km, time taken 11hrs 40mins. Not quite the average rate of progress originally budgeted(!), but we were within an easy 40km of our original destination, Anori; everything was working as it should (exceeding expectations, even); we hadn’t had to sleep out on white water; we had been fed, were pleasantly drunk, were enjoying eachother’s company, and were looking forward eagerly to the next part of the journey.

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