As I write this I am lying in my hammock, listening to the sounds of a busy river port, and feeling overwhelmingly relaxed.
The first “chunk” of our holiday has gone exceedingly well, and I hope this will set the tone for the rest of it. Harry and I left Sand Creek on Saturday morning, arrived in Lethem and met up with the Sawariwau PTVs. We enjoyed a celebratory end-of-year pizza in Lethem and stayed at the Savannah Inn for the night (free of charge!).
On Sunday morning we took a taxi over into the border town of Bonfim, Brazil. We sorted our passports so we were legally in Brazil (during which we were issued with a 25-day visa, despite asking for 2 weeks) and then caught a 1½ hour bus to Boa Vista.
Once in Boa Vista we booked seats on a bus to Manaus leaving at 11pm, giving us half a day to use up. We spent most of this day mooching around the city, eating junk food, and gaffing with a couple of Guyanese people we met.
After very nearly leaving my Kindle in the bus station, our bus to Manaus set off exactly on time (“you’re not in Guyana anymore, Dorothy”) and we settled in for the 12-hour ride to Manaus. The bus is almost enjoyable… it has very comfy seats that recline almost into beds, a surprisingly useable WC, cheerful drivers… and utterly insanely cold aircon! I’ve taken this bus before, so I came prepared, but even my thick Project Trust hoodie did nothing to keep me warm, mostly because one of the Sawariwau vols commandeered it for the whole journey!
Once we’d arrived in Manaus (about 11am on Monday) we headed to the port, and were quite proud to remember the bus that would get us there. We booked our tickets on the Dois Imraos, a boat heading to Porto Velho and leaving on Tuesday. We slung our hammocks on the boat, dropped our bags, and went out to show the Sawariwau girls around the tiny part of Manaus Harry and I actually know.
We checked out the street markets, Teatro Amazonas, more street markets, the pretty epic Rock Tribal shop and topped it off with a visit to the ice cream parlor (small luxuries make all the difference!). Dinner on Monday night was my Brazilian favourite – fresh roasted meat on a stick – after which we retired to the boat to spend the night (which meant saving money on a night’s accommodation in Manaus).
We gaffed for a while on the boat, including talking to a Brazilian man who was quite insistent that he wanted to take Harry and I to a strip club in Manaus (although the language barrier forced him to actually mime “strip club” to us!). After we had persuaded him we weren’t going to go with him we turned in for the night and got a surprisingly good night’s sleep.
So now it’s Tuesday morning and I am extremely comfortable – the boat is hammock-space only, has pretty serviceable bathrooms (and showers!!!), running drinking water that is ice cold, three meals a day for passengers, and it even has power! Today will be spent doing a bit more mooching around Manaus, buying souvenirs, eating
nutritious snacks junk food and searching for some free WiFi to upload this.
The boat sets off at 6pm this evening, and then spends four or five days going up-stream to Porto Velho. Judging by the comfort of this boat so far, I predict those few days will be extraordinarily chilled out. I have three good friends to gaff with, we have power to charge phones and thus listen to music, we have food provided for us and bags of snack food for backup, and a heavily weathered deck of playing cards – what more do we need?
Once we reach Porto Velho we will split off from the Sawariwau girls: Harry and I head for Bolivia, the girls to Peru.
Take care, keep your eyes on the blog, and feel free to get jealous of me, sunning myself on the top deck of a boat for the next few days!
I’ll see y’all in about five weeks now!