Letter # 9 on the Prinsendam February 24,
Yesterday we entered the muddy waters of the Amazon River and dropped anchor in the anchorage area. We borded one of the ship’s tenders and spent 35 minutes to reach the city of Belem on the opposite side of the river, yes the river is that wide! At the entrance of the river is the Atlantic Ocean and at the mouth where they meet the river is 125 miles wide and fresh water extends over 100 miles out to the sea!
In the early morning it rained and currently it is extremely muggy, just standing still your body perspires. Most all the people on the ship’s tender head for the city market place. This market is huge and covers 3 or 4 city blocks. All along the river’s edge includes the fish market, vegetable market and dry goods stalls, plus live poultry stalls selling everything from baby ducklings, rabbits, chickens ranging from small eggs to fat chickens. We then move along to cooking utensils, from shiny pots and pans to huge serving trays. Whatever you want or think you need you can buy it at this open air market. After one hour of looking and perspiring I head back to the city pier and board the tender back to the ship and it’s air conditioning.
Our next stop on the Amazon River is the city of Santarem, a fair size city, this year we had a shuttle bus that took us into the far side of the city and a small shopping area just off the Main Street still adjacent to the river. Within 15 minutes we had enough; the heat and humidly were stifling, so we got the next shuttle and headed back to the pier and boarded the ship. Our clothes were dripping wet, and a cool shower was a life saver. I also had a swim in the ships pool. When the ship left just after 6pm for our next stop on the river at Boca Da Valeria, it was dark and large amounts of bugs were attracted to the ships lights. Over to public address system we were asked to close all drapes in our rooms and all outside lights were extinguished to cut down on the bug invasion.
The following morning we arrived at Boca Da Valeria and dropped the anchor in the river. This is a very small fishing village where all the children dress-up for our arrival in hopes we will take their pictures and they can request a dollar bill. Usually they are holding one of their captured pets, like parrots, 3 toad soothe, turtles or even a small harmless snake. At 3pm it starts to rain so we all return to the ship and raise the anchor to head further up river to the city of Manaus. This city is over 800 miles up the river and was first settled by rubber barons in the early days of rubber used to make rubber tires for cars and bicycles just after World War I.
We will be in Manaus for the better part of 2 days and lots of tours are available. We decide on the afternoon of the first day to leave the ship, board the shuttle that takes us to the drop off point, and walk to the city market place. Similarly to several prior days the weather is in the high 80’s with humidity in the 90% range, it isn’t long before we are soaking wet with sweat. Within 30 minutes we have had enough and walk back to the shuttle bus meeting place, then back to the ship to hit the showers. When the ship arrived in Manaus within one hour it is raining, I mean really raining! When it rains in the jungle and on the Amazon River the sky turns a light gray with rain so heavy you can not see more than a few feet in front of you, then within 30 minutes it clears and the sun returns. We have rain most every day and several days more than once or twice. But like the cruise director reminds all of us, we are in the jungle!
We spend the next 3 days retracing our direction and head back to the Atlantic Ocean, topping at 2 additional large towns on the river. On February 2nd, we cross the Equator for the last time on this cruise. King Neptune visits the ship and the ceremony with all the ships crew who has never crossed the equator before takes place at the large pool on deck 9. Our next port of call will be Devils Island just a few miles of the coast of South America. We are scheduled to arrive there and drop anchor just off shore on February 4th, which happens to be our anniversary.
Your sea reporter, for the 67 day sailing.