We boarded our Amazon boat, the Rondonia, two hours before the scheduled 6 pm departure.  Already many people had hung their hammocks in the prime positions on the covered decks.  We opened a bottle of Brazilian red to share with Ed and Merv while watching Belém [17] slip away in the dusk, but truck after truck full of produce kept arriving to be loaded aboard slowly by hand and after the second bottle of wine we gave up and went to bed.  The boat finally departed at 1 am.  Rumour has it that after the inspectors have gone more cargo is loaded on.


Although the river is massive, there are many islands and numerous boats of all sizes ply the Amazon.  Our boat, music constantly blaring from the ship´s loud speakers, stayed close to the banks allowing us to spend a couple of pleasant days passing little communities along the banks.  Villagers row out in small boats to collect the floating parcels of used clothes hurled from the ship by kind passengers who travel up and down regularly.  Occasionally we would spot some river dolphins. 


After the boat docked in Santarém [18], we hopped on a packed local bus to Alter-do-Chão [19], an idyllic little village with a white sandy beach and clear green water, almost a 1000 kilometres from the sea.  Waiters wade out to serve people sitting at tables in the tepid water.  Children walk the beach selling bags of homemade banana chips.  For lunch, we went for a whole, freshly grilled fish from a thatched roof beach shack.  That evening, after a few Caipirinhas (cocktail of Cachaça rum, crushed lime and sugar), Ed introduced us to food from his early days in Brazil – Tacaca, a prawn soup served in a half coconut shell bowl. 


After 3 days, we said goodbye to Ed and Merv and headed back to Santarém for our boat to Manaus [20], another two days further up the Amazon.


Hammocks packed like sardines on the boat to Santarém

The boat can´t go till the onions are loaded

One of the boats we passed on the Amazon

Village houses

There are boats of all sizes

More houses over the water

The family out to greet the weekly boat

They start young

Pretty casual on the bridge (love the adjustable chair)

On the boat with Merv and Ed

It´s a sloth!

Passengers waiting on the dock

Amazon sunset

Full moon over the river

Sunrise reflected



Loaded up waiting for the bus

Beautiful Alter-do-Chão

Brazilians at the beach on a sunny day

.... and a rainy day

Ice cream anyone?

Tacaca sold from a beach stall

Pretty bird admires his reflection

A cashew nut - the trees line the waterfront

Phone booth

Small monkey