Thursday, February 2, 2017

Day Twenty-One: Sunset on the Amazon

 Day Twenty-One: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

We stayed in for a few hours this morning to get a jump on our final projects, as we don’t fly in until Thursday morning, leaving us only Thursday and Friday to finish our projects in the confines of the normal Jan Term period.  We can keep working after Friday, of course, but we would love to get a real break before the spring term starts. 
Some of us cut our project work period short to do a last shopping run, for soccer jerseys and more Havaianas.  A light rain started to fall as we were chasing these last items but we were undeterred and all of us came back for lunch happy with our purchases.  We ate lunch in a hurry to make it out for our next excursion: an afternoon boatride into an evening watching the sunset over the river(s). 

We joined our friend and boat captain Rionaldo on the waterfront and hopped aboard a boat that could hold about 25 or 30 people.  We had all of us plus our friends Zé, Josy and Monica, all of whom we have known for awhile, having met them on prior trips.  We went downriver a bit (everywhere else we’ve gone so far is upriver from Santarém) and saw some new sights/sites in a portion of the Tapajós River that is considered a lake. 

As soon as we entered this narrow part of the river, Rionaldo spotted a sloth up in a tree so we came about to get a better look at it.  It was so well camouflaged that we were shocked he spotted it but we all oohed and ahhed like we were watching fireworks.  Of course, if you know anything about sloths, fireworks are one of the things that they are most UNlike, but we were pretty amazed. 

We saw some amazing birds and loads of butterflies and even a big green iguana swimming in the river and then darting up a huge leaf on the other side.  We also saw animals a little more in the domestic category like cows and horses.  We tried to guess how the cows got out onto these islands and exactly how the whole process of dealing with cows out there might work.  We saw lots of little canoes and rowboats, mostly with men in them fishing. 

We looped back and went out to the meeting of the waters, where the Tapajós and Amazon run side by side in different colors.  The brown Amazon and the blue-ish Tapajós make quite a contrast.  We wanted a chance to swim in the actual Amazon, so we got out life jackets and had a little pool party right off our boat.  We didn’t linger long, as we wanted to go visit Rionaldo’s house on a different island right off of Santarém.

His is one of may houses on stilts that are set just perfectly to be ready for the rising waters that will come later in the spring.  Right now, there are several sets of steps and a lot of wooden decking all around his home, but at a certain point, there will just be water right up to the main level of the house. 

We had some snacks and juice and then boarded the boats again to do some evening birdwatching.  From there, we motored back toward the pier as the sun began to set, taking in the beauty of the Amazon sky and especially of the clouds that are always awesome there. 

We stood on the pier for awhile and took it all in, then loaded back into the van to take care of an important job: eating ice cream.  Amazon ice cream is fabulous, partially because of the exotic fruit flavors that are available and partially because they make ice cream out of things that we usually don’t, like avocados, cheese and corn (not all at once).  We tried prune and coconut and two of the three listed above (no corn ice cream today), along with more traditional chocolates and some fluorescent pink and blue stuff.  Because it is a self-service place where you pay by weight, we could try as much or as little as we wanted of all of the flavors.  Perfect. 

Some of us made a run to a nearby grocery to buy some of the coffee we’ve been loving while here, then all of us headed home for one last night in our hammocks before we start the long journey home. We still have another excursion tomorrow so we will tell you about that once we’ve done it. 

It’s hard to imagine not being in Brazil but it’s also hard to be so far away from all of you, so we look forward to coming home for that reason.  But a little (or big?) piece of us will stay here and a little (or big?) piece of this place will come with us and stay with us forever.  Thanks for your support and attention as we have tried to keep you posted on what we’ve been doing over here.  We’ll see you soon . . .

It Came in Like a Wrecking Ball:  On the side of the Tapajos River a moth comes barreling into some colorful flowers, ready and hungry for some pollen.

This beautiful structure belongs to Rionoldo, a good friend of Jesse and Shawny. The only way to get to the house is by boat and the house stands tall and beautiful above an outlet of the Tapajos River.

The DIRTies were so excited to have some cold ice cream after several hot and humid days in the Amazon. Some of the flavors included avocado, acai, and Brazil nut.

The gang gathers around the dining room table for the last delicious dinner in Santarém made by our lovely Louro and Donna Maria. We will all miss the fresh fish and homemade juices. 

Rachel, Zummo, Jules, Colleen, and Kim prepare to swim at the meeting of the Tapojos and Amazon River. It was surprising to the DIRTies how strong the current was and how many dolphins were out to play!

Ended our day with some bird watching and a sunset <3

Spent the afternoon swimming between the Tapajos and Amazon River. #tworivers #tapaDOS

Beautiful pops of color on the porch of our good friend Rionaldo’s house. Couldn’t miss capturing it!

Enjoying several different snacks Brasil has to offer including the Brazilian nut. Thanks Rionaldo for the hospitality!

Taking a cruise through the narrows.    

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