Rick got up very early on March 11 because our guide had offered an optional pre-dawn tour of the forest surrounding the lodge. It was really too dark to take good pictures, but we will show you what we have. It was pretty interesting. We saw several birds whose names Rick can’t remember now, some ant or termite nests and marmosets running through the tree tops.
Mary & the rest of our group joined the walk as we passed the lodge. We saw a waterfall and a stream whose water was red (presumably with iron) and a lot of flowers and trees (of course . . . it’s a forest). There was a huge mushroom that we think had medicinal properties and a tree sapling that may as well. There were huge vines curling up trees and a nest of ants the natives rub on their arms to repel mosquitoes. Marco demonstrated: he banged on the nest and a whole lot of ants ran out, then he grabbed a handful and rubbed them on his arm (yuck).
We went back to the open air dining room for a buffet lunch. Behind the buffet line was a large mural of an indigenous woman and there were other nice decorations, including a group of carved wood rays. Outside Rick encountered some small & quick lizards, one of which had lost most of its tail. A number of colorful flowers were planted outside the lodge.
Despite the threatening weather we boarded the boats for a trip to another village. As we left the lodge’s pier we saw a toucan high in a tree. Such colorful birds & it’s a wonder that huge beak doesn’t tip them over frontways. Walking up from the mooring at the village we passed among a number of nice flowers and trees.
Our stay at the village was cut short when the skies opened up and the whole area was drenched. Before that happened we saw two demonstrations. One fellow was preparing a root, possibly manioc, which he peeled with a scary looking knife then cooked in an oven. Another fellow was making rubber from sap. Apparently the sap is dripped onto a large stick then rolled back and forth over an open fire, adding more sap as it hardens. The work huts were decorated with fiber baskets and boxes, along with pictures on panels that looked like bark of some kind mounted on caning. The pictures were formed with some kind of onlay, not paint.
Back at the lodge, we checked out of our rooms and brought our luggage down to be loaded onto the boats for the final trip back to Manaus. It was still raining when we left. Just after leaving the pier we saw a large group of black birds that looked like vultures sitting menacingly on a bare tree. On the way to Manaus we saw a number of floating buildings – houses, restaurants, even a hostel.
As we approached Manaus we began to see beaches and buildings and boats on the shore. We also approached the Ponte Rio Negro, the only bridge in the entire Amazon basin. It is some two miles long but it doesn’t cross the Amazon River, just the Rio Negro. It was opened in 2011, to the joy of commuters and the consternation of environmentalists. This is a “cable-stayed” bridge, which means the central platform is supported by cables running to the top of a tower, a feature that is very evident.
Before we sailed away we were able to get some pretty nice views of Manaus from the top deck of the ship. The old Customs House (Alfindega) was constructed in England before being disassembled, transported by ship and rebuilt here in 1906. The Cathedral da Nossa Senhora da Conceicao was built in 1695 then rebuilt in 1878 after a fire. We could even see the cupola of the Teatro Amazonas from the ship looking over the cathedral. As we sailed away there were more river bank scenes and, a bit down river, a village of floating houses.