Adventuring in the Amazon: A first-timer’s experience!

Ambling up the Amazon River – It’s not a Disneyland Experience!

Traveling up the great Amazon River, now touted to be the largest river on the planet, is a slow murky process.  Large chunks of verdant vegetation float leisurely by on water that looks as brown and as opaque as chicken gravy.  Land can be seen in the distance, but these landmasses are islands, not the South American mainland.  (According to our onboard naturalist, Hutch, the Amazon is composed of thousands of islands and we cruise in and around them on our way to Manaus.)

The skies are overcast, with a bit of color peeping through.  A higher ISO is a must and so is a lens wipe; camera lenses fog constantly when the lens cover is replaced and removed.  Moisture, moisture everywhere, on the balcony railing, on the ceiling, on my laptop screen, in my clothing.  Damp!

The air smells sweet and musty, the kind of scent that greets you in a tropical conservatory or a sun-heated greenhouse.  It is not at all unpleasant, but rather like an earthy perfume.  Breathing deeply is a very pleasurable experience.

It’s very quiet, only the sound of softly lapping waves created by our ship’s passing, and the soft humming of the ship’s massive engines.  Tiny bugs are everywhere (fruit flies of some sort perhaps).  A few moths flutter by, and some larger winged insects meet their doom on the narrow varnished wooden planks of the deck.  Wait, I hear the faint sound of songbirds chirping somewhere to my left.  I can’t see them, but I can hear their trill.

It’s still early in the morning, and we have just celebrated the crossing of the equator which took place at exactly 7:08 AM.  A large city, dotted with oil refineries, lay to our starboard side as we ambled westward.  We are on our way to Santarem, where we will dock, and explore.  We have a river cruise booked.

There is so much debris in the water; God-made not man-made: branches with green leaves, sections of what looks to be green turf, driftwood, a dead fish, and other bits of vegetation.  So quiet, so calm, so serene.  Small fishing boats or ferries bob in the distance, from time to time.

So this is the Amazon, I think.  This is the river of legend.  It’s very big; that’s for sure.  As for the rainforest and the jungle that lines its shores, there is only a hint of that in the distance.  I espy a large tanker, the Green Star, to our port side.  The sight of the massive boat is a welcome visual treat after so much water, water, and more water.  I think I, like many others new to the Amazon, was expecting more of a Disneyland-type of experience.  But this less colorful, less vibrant, less active experience has its merits.

I think I shall like this Amazon adventure.

Wishing you safe and happy travels,
Sheree Zielke

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