May 2nd, 2011 – An early rise was followed by the Hostel Manaus buffet breakfast, a quick taxi ride across town with others who were going to Antonio’s Jungle Lodge, and boarding the bus at the Rodoviario for the 3 hour ride to our boat launch town. The bus was beautiful – shiny clean, tall, new, and had air-conditioning, thank goodness! It would have been a hot and humid ride without it.
After leaving the city of Manaus, which has over a million people, it was refreshing to see the green, lush countryside of the Amazon. Plants and trees of all sizes and shapes were growing everywhere across the landscape with free abandon. Colorful flowers and grasses carpeted the fields and roadsides, and ponds and rivers flowed unfettered back and forth – it was heavenly. Birds of bright colors flew in flocks across the open spaces and between tree branches. It felt like driving through a large natural park, where humans are the visitors in the wildlife’s native home, and in fact, that was the actuality of it.
After deboarding the bus and settling into our flat-bottom river boat, we zoomed for another 1.5 hours upriver to finally turn a lush jungle bend and see Antonio’s Jungle Lodge. It was beautifully constructed and attractively laid out against the river’s bank. A delicious spread of lunch was laid out on a buffet table for us, and afterward we took a loop walk through the quiet jungle behind the lodge.
Our guide then took our loaded boat full of people to the flooded forest, which is like gliding through a dense forest about midway up the trunk of the trees – odd. We saw a white frog, white orchids, and got caught in a rain and lightning storm while we were fishing for Pirana in the flooded forest.
Totally soaked, we headed back to the Lodge to dry off, have dinner, and come out in the boat again in search of the Pink Dolphin and the Caymen (crocodile). The water was too high to spot the Caymen, and too rough from the wind and the rain to see the Pink Dolphin, but we did see an enormous spider – 3 1/2 inches long – running on top of the water!!!
I shared a dorm room with a sweet young woman – “Gen” for Genevieve – from Montreal, Canada. She will be starting work as a criminology sociologist with families or reported child abuse, which seemed odd to me at first because she is so full of positiveness and joy of life, that I found it strange she should be working in a field that could be so dark and laden with horrors. But, on thinking further about it, she is probably exactly the right person to be in that line of work – she can bring great rays of sunlight into dark holes of despair.
Night was still and deep, with occasionally lightning struck in the far distance and flashed across the flat expanse of river and jungle. Sleep came easily.