On the morning of March 9 we anchored near Boca Da Valeria for a short visit. This is a small indigenous village (75 to 100 people) in the rainforest at the confluence of the Valeria river with the Amazon.
This tiny village is now a common stop for cruise ships sailing up the Amazon and it is the only stop where you are likely to encounter an indigenous community. The story we heard, which may be apocryphal, is that this village was first visited a number of years ago when a cruise ship’s engine broke down when it was at this spot. To keep the passengers entertained they were tendered ashore at the village. The villagers, concluding that they were being invaded, all fled into the forest until the cruise passengers left.
After that arrangements were made with them to continue visiting. The money this has brought in has been beneficial to the village, which now has electricity, satellite TV and other modern conveniences like refrigerators and a school house. Since our first visit we noticed that the church has a new steeple and there is a new covered tender dock.
We had tendered ashore for a visit here on our first South America voyage in 2012, and it was certainly worth doing, since it the one place where you can see how the indigenous people live.
But this is a very small place with only a little to see, so one visit is enough. And while the people are very friendly, commercialism has taken its toll. People for miles around come here when a ship is scheduled to stop in order to make a few bucks. They bring children, some dressed in feathered costumes and many carrying exotic animal “pets,” and each costs a dollar to photograph. Children greet you at the pier and one or two will take your hand to guide you through a village that only really takes a few steps, and expect to be paid. Home made crafts are for sale and there is a bar where you can buy a drink. While all this is understandable for people with few sources of income and it is hardly usurious, it certainly detracts from the experience. Add in a crowd of ship passengers in a tiny village and it is hardly the pristine rainforest village experience you hoped for when you stepped onto the tender. So we stayed on the ship for the few hours we were there and took some pictures from there.
As you can see in the pictures above, this is a river town and the Amazon is high enough this time of year to cause a lot of flooding. This is why most of the water side buildings are on stilts and we could see many trees growing out in the water. The locals offer rides in canoes (some open and some covered) to see giant water lilies and neighboring settlements for $5 or $10 per person. Some of them take their boats out to the ship, to try to sell things to passengers or just to ogle or even take smartphone pictures.
In addition to the village there were birds flying around, some pink dolphins (Mary saw them but Rick didn’t), and a nice rainforest coast where the hill came directly down into the water. This is still the Amazon, so of course there were floating lawns going past us. We headed off in early afternoon toward Manaus and that evening there was a nice sunset over the river.