"Can I swim here? Is it safe?"
"Oh yes of course. By the way there are Piranhas, so don't move too quickly..."
Here is the begining of my last excursion: I knew it would have been a great adventure. I wasn't really expecting so adventurous...
Hundreds of boats leave everyday from Manaus (MAP) heading to the Earth's lung: the Amazon Forest. One millon square Kilometers of tropical forest represent probably the biggest ecosystem in the world. The excursion starts on the Amazonian river - the biggest in the world - on the joint with the Black river ("Rio Preto"). Because of different sediments, speed and temperature, the two rivers actually continue running alongside without merging. There is a neat separation of the water, and it countinues for 15 kilometers. By this time I should have learned that everything in Brazil is huge; however I keep getting surprised.
After an offroad transportation on a van and a couple of boat transfers we eventually arrive to our entrance gate to the forest. There is still some civilization here, half indios half portuguese live in very basic conditions yet with primary needs. The one way to move from one place to another being by boat
The school boat stops everyday to collect and deliver back children. "When it rains it becomes complicated and they have a day off" - adds a local man I have a chat with.
Yeah. The rain. The "Rain Forest", there must be a reason for that name. We are just below the equator line, yet while in the rest of Brazil it's summer, hot and sunny, here it's winter and "cold" - like 25-30 degrees... In the middle of rainy season, the wind blows clouds extremely quickly and there is at least one or two hours of (extremely heavy) rain everyday. In fact the level of the river has grown 8 meters since the beginning of the season. Bushes are not visible anymore, while tree are still partially visible - the tall ones.
Conrado, Cony is our guide. He is a local, extremely talented, always ready to spot any kind of anymals everywhere. He leads our small group for the days we are going to spend in the jungle. He teaches us how to survive without food and water, how to build a shelter with palm leaves, how to make fire with a torch battery. "Next time your plane crashes" - he says - "You will know how to survive"
Before going to sleep, Cony tells us incredible stories about his childhood. Vodoo and shamans rituals, but also real stories about people and animals. We eventually get to the idea that piranhas are the least possible problem. "There are Caimans who can possible tear up your leg. And the anaconda, it can reach 6 meter long, he likes hunting underwater, he can drag you down and drown you". "So why can we swim on the river? It does not to be so safe" - I make my comment - "No risk no fun".
Should I be releaf to sleep on a hammock on the open air with a mosquito net as the only protection? Of course not. They say there are jaguars around. "The jaguar is not really dangerous for us. He once came to our camp during the night while we were sleeping, sniffed around and went away. I just saw his footprints in the morning - don't be afraid".Wow, good news. The bad news is that "There are several kind of poisoning snakes. And frogs. And spiders. You don't want to mess with them."
Cony does not want to show off. In fact the next day we go around in the jungle looking for some jaguar... go to "The Last Adventure - PART 2"