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Ben and Ange - On the Road

The B.O.A.T

BRAZIL | Tuesday, 4 November 2008 | Views [538]

Nice aye?

Nice aye?

The Backgammon On Amazon Tournament, that is!  The winner ~ in a demolishing kinda way... was me. 

Backgammon tournaments, cards, beverages and hammock swinging is pretty much the pace of life on the Amazon. 

After a series of buses and a rather confusing border crossing, we made our way south from Venezuela to Manaus in Brasil.  Manaus is this gigantuan port city... only its a port about 1500km away from the sea.  Tis on the mighty Amazon.

Once here we found out we had a few days to kill before the next boat was was departing for Belem - city right down on the mouth of the Amazon.  Killing time without spending money had us roaming the totally manic Manaus markets (a sight and sound to behold), seeing how small a plateful we could get of yummy roast meats in the pay per kilo restaurants, sweating about 10kg each and then replacing most of that with wonderful Brasilian vodka... coming in at about $5 per bottle.

The day came to catch our boat.  These boats are classic old river~boats.  All open air and if you haven´t forked out for a mega expensive cabin then you string a hammock and swing the journey.  Heading down river, the journey is about 5 days.  Naturally we stocked up with cheap snacks (and vodka) fruit and books.  Oh, and made sure we had the cards and backgammon at the ready.  5 days is quite a time to chill out on a boat.  Its a challenge... a real tough challenge... but we were up for it. 

The first day or two on our boat were grand... except for the fact that there were about 11 hammocks hung in a space for about 4.  Ben and I, in the thick of it just tried to make do and not wriggle too much... but I tells ya... once one hammock gets a rock up, when they´re that close, ALL the hammocks get a rock up.  Myself and my dear granny neighbour had a wonderful session of bootie bumping one fine evening.  Not much sleep was had - but that was fine since we had a squall come through one night too.  And who wants to sleep through that kind of excitement aye?  Lightning, thunder torrential rain and enough wind to get the normally smooth river boat tossing quite nicely.  Shame half the passengers got their stuff wet.  Smug smirk... not us obviously.

Theres plenty of villages and towns along the way ~ so enough opportunities to hop off an resupply at local markets.  Or else, to sit on board and watch the flood of vendors board the boat touting their wares like a bunch of marrauding pirates.

You can actually buy meals on the boat, but we elected to take lots of cheap goodies and self catered with our wee camping stove etc.  Made for quite a topic amongst the other passengers... but we ate well and saved a bunch.

While Ben and I battled it out over the backgammon board, a group of lads tried their hands at checkers and dominoes.  It seems no matter what game they were playing, things invariably got rowdy and heated.  Dominoe slamming and finger pointing all just part of the rumbuncious fun!

A couple of days in another group of gringoes boarded, so we chit chatted happily while cruising and pooled our resources to come up with some fresh fruit slushies.  Yum!  All we needed was ice and the wee umbrella thingys.

Another great source of entertainment was watching the crafty paddle skills of the dudes in canoes hitching a ride.  They´d paddle out towards the boat ~looking all the world as though they were going to paddle right across the bow but then at just the right moment they´d swing in, paddle like hell and the dude in front would grab onto our boat by whatever means possible.  Holding on for dear life, they´d get their boat tied up to ours and just chill until their stop.  Disembarking involved the front dude untying the canoe swinging the front end around and watching his mate paddle skillfully out of the big boats wake.  Front dude would then join the canoe by jumping overboard and swimming.  Of course. 

So after our 5 days on the Amazon we were feeling well and truely like a pair of river rats.  We greeted Belem pretty cheerily but stayed only briefly.  With our funds fast evaporating and Brasil being the mega expensive and mega HUGE country that it is, we came to the conclusion that we needed to make tracks south to Rio de Janeiro and then on to Argentina, stat! 

So Rio ahoy!  Only a 50hr bus journey standing between us and one of the most spectacular cities of the world! 


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