Stacy here: I’m having some technical difficulties getting photos off my computer, so I’ve decided too much time has passed without posting, so we’re posting without pictures and will backfill with the photos later.
Today, March 15th, started out slow but ended with a bang.
We woke up at the Tropical Manaus Resort, and after our first Amazon briefing, went to to the Farmers’ and Fishermen’s market. After lunch at a great local fish restaurant, we boarded our shipboard home for the next three nights, the Otter Manaus. We pulled away from the dock about 2:00 pm, and then drove upstream on the Rio Negro. It’s the rainy season here, which means the waters of the Amazon and its tributaries, like the Rio Negro, rise about a foot a day. With rains like we had yesterday and today, we can totally see why!
This afternoon, we met our naturalist, Hugo, and the rest of the crew. Hugo gave us a briefing about where we would be sailing, and what expeditions we would be doing each day (and night), weather and nature permitting. Our first expedition was scheduled for this evening at 8:00 pm. Since it gets dark at 6:00, we could expect a real night on the Amazon adventure. We all just hoped the rains would stop long enough to let us enjoy it.
After liberally applying bug repellent, we loaded up the “canoe” (a long flat boat with a motor, large enough to fit about 15 people), and set off into the total darkness. Our luck had held, and not only was it not raining, but you could see about a million stars.
The first thing you notice is the utter stillness, and the sounds of countless animals you cannot see. Hugo told us the predominant sound we were hearing was made by tree frogs, who make a sound like thick wooden stickS being beaten together like a percussion instrument. Occasionally, you could also hear a monkey calling, and things would splash in the otherwise still water.
The next thing you noticed was that with the starlight, you could clearly see the outlines of the jungle against the sky, and even the reflection of the jungle canopy in the still water.
We saw a huge tree iguana and two different kinds of frogs. One of them was huge and is poisonous. Apparently, dogs bite them and die from the venom. The other one was the largest type of tree frog in South America, and it was actually kind of pretty!
Tomorrow, we roll out at 5:30 am for our first canoe trip into the daylight Amazon, and we hope to catch a beautiful sunrise.