The Jesuits established Santarém [18] with a palm frond church in 1661.  Today it is a hive of activity as the colourful river boats of all sizes lining the waterfront are loaded and unloaded along narrow wooden planks.  Come lunch time, the smell of fresh fish grilling over charcoal at the fish market was too good for us to pass up.  In the evening when the sultry heat abates and a cooling breeze drifts up the river, the sky puts on a glorious display.


Our boat, the N/M Cidade de Santarém 11 departed on time at 1300 (mas o menos) surrounded by river dolphins.  The Santarém 11 is much smaller than the Rondonia which bought us from Belém and we were the only foreigners on board.  We headed upstream at a leisurely 8 knots, again hugging the shoreline.  It does not get much better than a cold beer on the aft deck watching the lingering tropical sunset – the voyage up the Amazon must be the world´s greatest river journey. 


Nearing Manaus [20] we passed through a distinct band of two different coloured waters (Encontro das Aguas) where the waters from two rivers meet and run side by side, without mixing, for several kilometres.  Any romantic notions we had about Manaus soon disappeared; it is a bustling crowded city of 2,000,000 people.  There are some remnants of past rubber boom glory including the Teatro Amazonas, the opulent 1896 opera house filled with Italian marble and glass, Scottish cast iron and Brazilian wood sent to Europe to be carved.  The 1882 cast iron city market building which looks like the famous Les Halles market in Paris with Amazon products was under repair.


Brazil might have been the most expensive country in South America, but people are friendly, noisy and sway their hips to any music.  Body image news has not reached Brazil; they let it all hang out.  Bye bye Brazil, land of ice cold beer and toilet paper!  We are now heading overland north via Boa Vista [21] to Venezuela.


At Santarém, a blue church was built on the site of the palm frond Jesuit one

Pretty boats all in a row

One more watermelon and it sinks!

Fresh grilled fish for lunch

Santarém sunset

We were surprised to see a huge German cruise ship here

Loading the bananas

Waiting for sunset on the Satarém 11


This is how to cool off

The family bathes in the river

The river banks are more open and eroded here

A grey river dolphin

The river is the road - everything and everybody goes by boat

A lighthouse marks rocks (submerged in the wet season) in the river

Encontro das Aguas - amazingly the waters don´t mix even with boats churning it up

Manaus has a sea port, 1500 kilometers from the sea

Houses on stilts; the water can rise 10 meters in the wet season

Petrol station afloat

¡Que horror! A bridge over the Amazon (actually the Rio Negro)

The N/M Cidade de Santarém 11 at the dock in Manaus

The Opera House - it seems out of place in the steamy jungle of Manaus

Inside the Opera House

Crumbling buildings near the waterfront

Customs House with the Cathedral behind

Manaus Public Market in the early days

A double hibiscus

A chapel at Boa Vista near the Venezuelean border

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