Monday, 29 June 2015

Porto Velho


05/06 - 11/06


On Friday evening we were escorted to our boat by our ticket agent who had conveniently also set up our hammocks for us earlier that day. As we boarded the vessel, we were surprised at how small it was in comparison to the tales we had heard from fellow travellers. The boat consisted of three levels - the bottom level carried the cargo (cars and scooters), the second level was the sleeping quarters, bathrooms and kitchen and the top level was the deck with a common area consisting of the bar and satellite tv.
As we were in very communal living quarters and had been warned of the dangers of such, we chained our bags together and to wooden beams attached to the floor below our hammocks. We then escaped to the top deck where we enjoyed the first sunset on the boat and our last glimpse of Manaus.

Roxy and Rafa

Roxy and Joy - back to back we faced each other.

Saturday - Wednesday

We soon realised that life on the boat follows a rather monotonous schedule so here is a summary of what we got up over the four days of our trip...

06:00 - 06:30                    Wake up and Breakfast (Bread rolls, butter and coffee)


06:30 - 07:30                    Showering (in the all-in-one shower, toilet and changing closet) and taking malaria pills (we are on the Amazon after all and mosquitos are everywhere!)                                                         

07:30 - 09:30                    Reading, researching and writing in diaries

09:30 - 11:00                    On deck braai´ing (on Saturday and Sunday they had a big meat braai which we were encouraged to sample), socialising and listening to very loud local music which continued throughout the day.

11:00 - 12:00                    Lunch (Beans, Noodles, Rice and Meat Stew - ALWAYS) There was also a green salad on offer but Rafa warned us that they may not always wash it with clean water and therefore only the cooked food formed part of our diet.


12:00 - 14:00                    Siesta (It was too hot and humid to do anything else or the heat had been broken with the regular afternoon shower, from which we had to take shelter below deck)

14:00 - 17:00                    Playing cards with the children on board as well as Rafa and Cleyton (our new Hungarian musician friend) Go Fish and Crazy 8 turned out to be the favourites. As a result, we were able to learn from 1 to 10 in Portuguese.

17:00 - 18:00                    Dinner (Beans, Noodles, Rice and Meat Stew - ALWAYS)

18:00 - 22:00                    Watching the sunset, stargazing, being serenaded by Cleyton and his guitar, more cards and watching local tv shows, especially a dramatic Brazilian soapie called Babalonia. It was only in Portuguese with no subtitles but that didn't stop us as we made up our own dialogue and we were soon hooked! 

22:00 - 06:00                    Lights out and Sleep time. Trying to master the art of sleeping in a hammock in a rather crowded area whilst fighting against mosquitos, moths and Christmas beetles.


General pictures in and around the boat:

View from the second level, ie. a bedroom for forty people and all their luggage.

The boys (Rafa and Cleyton) contemplating the questions of the Universe.

Comforting to see at least one Ring buoy for all of us to share.

Afternoon storm clouds looming

The boat was sprawled with courtesy do´s and don´ts of boat life and religious sayings. For example: Men were not allowed into the eating area without a shirt on or whilst wearing a cap and ´A sailor can weather any storm as long as his faith is greater´

Crowded hammocks criss-crossing each other. Better hope you´re not next to a ´swinger´

The Control at the door to the eating area. He took his job really seriously. He ran a tight ship and there was never overcrowding.

As you can see there was a definite hierarchy as the elderly people were allowed to skip the food lines and receive their food first. We, as South Africans, were glad to see that respect was shown towards the elderly and happily accorded this courtesy. 

The stairs linking the three levels of the boat.

Satellite (of course) which allowed us to watch our beloved soapie, Babalonia.

On the dawn of the forth day, there was a change in our rigid schedule - we stopped at a small port village, Humaita! We said a hurried goodbye to Cleyton and since we were awake before breakfast, for once, we decided to enjoy the beautiful sunrise.

We weren't the only ones who were having an early start, a school of grey dolphins making their way up stream. Here is our attempt at trying to capture this moment.

New Shoes...bought in Manaus after the old ones didn't survive as well as we did in the jungle.

Sunlight shining through the biscuits we had for brekkie.

How many taps have sunlight dripping out of them?

Since the boat was docked here until 8am, loading and unloading cargo, we decided to get off for a bit to stretch our legs and explore this little village.

Found this cute little VW Beetle - seemed to be quite a few of these sweet, old cars around this area.

Scary vulture-looking bird staring us down from the telephone poll.

We found a little children´s fare - unfortunately it wasn´t open...oh ja, and we are not children anymore - man!

Architect Rafa puzzling over how a structure could be so skew yet still standing.

Our favourite, Farofa!

This lovely lady in the market allowed us to sample her Brazilian nuts. They were delicious and had a coconutty texture. Note: don´t mess with this lady she knows how to wield a machete.

Delicious coxinha - our favourite Brazilian morsel.

We stumbled upon a riverside park with gym equipment so we took up the opportunity to work up a little morning sweat!

Joy pumping iron! Who needs pepper spray or a tazer in the jungle when we ´got those guns´

We hurried back to the boat after our frolic about the town, but since the crew were running on Brazilian time, which is much like African time, the boat was only half loaded and we only ended up leaving at 10:20am.

Joy walking the plank

The next morning we arrived at Porto Velho at 6am. We hurriedly untied our hammocks, packed up our luggage and said our good byes to our favourite acquaintances that we had met on the boat.

Here is the adorable family who we played cards (Go Fish) with everyday.

Roxy with a lady from French Guyana who could speak a bit of English and who was moving to Porto Velho.

Porto Velho was an armpit town. We spent only one night here, in what we suspect was a brothel, but because it was cheap and had breakfast included, we put up with the questionable characters parading outside. We used the day to go to an Internet cafe (Lan House) to catch up on some much needed admin. Rafa, on the other hand, had a less enjoyable experience in Porto Velho. He went out to see the ´sights´ and as there was no bus, had to walk the 10kms back and only arrived late at night...only to later have his shoes stolen from outside our room! Ag shame!


We were therefore delighted to book our bus ticket out of there the next day - even a 24hr bus to Cuiaba was more bearable than the thought of staying another night in this sleezy port town!