I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW, except to say somewhere in the Amazon. 3 degrees below the equator. And in Brazil. And I’m completely fine with not knowing any more. This was my view yesterday morning, and it was a serene one. I was floating on my back in the pool on a hot, still summer day, Anthony swimming laps behind me, samba music playing lightly nearby and the river running just below us. I could hear the occasional speed boat pass by (main mode of transportation) and the workers fluttering around in the background, preparing for lunch. It’s South America and the seasons are flipped — hence the reason we started on this continent first. The humidity is intense. We had opted out of the morning’s activity of piranha fishing so that we could laze about our super cool place and get it all to ourselves for a couple of hours. Thank God I picked a winner after coming all this way: the Anavilhanas Lodge, located in the Anavilhanas archipelago in the Amazon. The nearest city, Manaus, where we crashed the first night, is a few hours away. Once we arrived here at the lodge, we had lunch, then took a swim in the river which was surprisingly warm, like a bath. The locals say it’s 80 degrees. I actually came up to the pool to cool off afterward. After dinner, we loaded onto a small speed boat around 8pm and went out onto the water. A couple from London we’d just met brought some beers for the ride. We sped away from the lights of the lodge, which aren’t much to begin with, and pretty soon it was pitch black in every direction, as far as we could see, except for the stars above us. So many stars. The water was like glass, the wind from the speedboat relief from the night’s heat, and it felt surreal, like we were in Space Mountain, hurtling through the dark, unable to see what’s ahead. Except this was real and the stars were incredible. And we had beer. The guide used his flashlight from time to time to point out animals on the banks of the river — three-toed sloths (my favorite kind — they sleep 23 hours a day and wake up only to eat), rainbow cobras. But then the flashlight would go off and we were back in black, wind on the face, glass water below and stars above. At one point we pulled into an estuary, trees on either side of us, and again the stars, and he killed the motor. We floated in complete silence, except for the sounds of tree frogs and a few monkeys howling. It truly felt like I was in an Epcot ride and they had gotten the sounds, smells and (lack of) sights just right. I was actually overwhelmed by it all for a few moments, that we were here, sitting on a boat in the middle of the Amazon, no one else in sight except for the few others with us, and it was as close to one of those perfect moments in life as I could have imagined. Yesterday afternoon, after our lazy morning in the pool, we went for a walk in the jungle and the heat was oppressive. The amount of deet we had on to ward off bugs making us even hotter (it’s like 10,000 hot pin pricks on your skin when you first put it on, but it works). The magic of the previous night’s Amazon experience was nowhere in sight — I just wanted a cold shower and to get the hell away from tarantula holes. Another nice dinner, this one with a 2nd British couple, and then drinks before passing out. Now about to go for an early sunrise boat ride — waiting for the 5am knock on the door to make sure we’re awake. We’ll see what the river holds for us this AM…
…Two hours later and we’re back. The sunrise was amazing and we saw so much more of the river than we had so far. Macau parrots, hawks, trees growing in the middle of the water (did I mention we saw pink dolphins the other day?) Again, so very peaceful. The tarantulas can have the jungle. I’ll take the water part of this place any day. Also I just got a look at myself in the mirror and my hair is in full bush mode. The humidity plus the heat plus lack of any heated styling device means I now look I was born and raised in these very trees. I wonder if I can get a job here.
Pictures to follow once we get sufficient wi-fi (read: get the hell out of the jungle).
Where we are staying in the Amazon:
Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge, in the Anavilhanas Archipelago