Queijo, queijo… Queijo, queijo… Queijo, queijo… What the hell?! It is 5 o’clock in the morning and an Amazon River boat vendor is trying to sell his cheese to the people on board of the Amazonian star.
The more often he is going through the different raws of the hundreds of hammocks the more I have the feeling I like to eat a “cheese on the stick”. His monotonous repetition of his offering is apparently leaving its footprints in my subconciousness, lol.
I slowly wake up… it is simply impossible to think about sleeping any further. I am laying in my hammock which is surrounded by three hundred other ones of different colours and shapes. It forms the worlds largest man made spider net you can imagine. Equivalent to the hammocks are the people. Young and old, big and thin, tall and small, families with grandparents and babies or lost souls…
But all have one thing in common: They all try to sleep over the next 5 days in the same room, use the same bathrooms and toilets and try to bridge the same time until arriving in Manaus, the capital of the Amazonas.
More than 2’000 km or 120 hours on a god damn boat… good luck!!! LOL
It is an insanity, really. A place without laws but with its very own kind of unspoken rules and rites. A woman uses her parfum directly next to me, another one is painting her toe nails while a family is having a proper lunch. Children are playing loudly in the small alleys of the boat while others are loudly snorring and having a nap in their hammocks.
I have to use the bathroom and try to get out of the maize. It is difficult since more and more people came on board during the travel. Slowly I crawl underneath several hammocks and along food bags, luggage and playtoys until I stand in front of the “banos”.
Everything seems to be allowed and tolerated.
If you ask yourself how to make friends the easiest and fastest way possible, then simply put a bottle of cachaça on the table. It is basically an invitation to others to join in… “ah, cachaça… muito bom”.
Suddenly two to three Brazilians are sitting at our table and kindly ask for a sip of their national pride. This very polite sip of cachaça quickly ends up in full glasses of pure alcohol, lol.
Same appears to be true when offering crackers or any other kind of goods like sugar or fruits. It is an invitation for a so called “radizio”… an all you can eat buffet, lol.
Our 5 day well planned food and cachaça ratio was already ruined the first night, lol. On the other hand side we made friends for life ?
I sit at the side of the boat and admire the beauty of the Amazon River, the landscapes and the people living along while I suddenly realize someone is throwing a plastic bag over board. I got pissed off and thought how ignorant people are to pollute this unique place of our blue planet.
Until… I realise how completely wrong I am. A small canoe with children are paddling towards the white plastic bag in which passengers of the Amazon Star put clothes and food.
Keep yourself warm during the night
We were sleeping on the first floor of the boat in a closed room with air conditioning. Usually the AC was running only during the night while at day time the windows were open to make breathing easier.
The guy who was controlling the AC must have been a sadist. Either it got so cold that I thought I must have been in the antarctis or it got again so damn hot that I sweated like a pig. Consequently, not only me got a cold during the journey.
I was just glad that I had my sleeping bag with me which kept me warm in the ice cold nights.
Apparently we were not the only travelers on board and Marianna and me met really nice french guys who decided to pursue the same adventure. The nights we spent together while drinking beer and caipirinha remain legendary, lol.
When arriving in Manaus everyone seemed to be excited to get off the boat after such a long time, including me.
Be careful when unloading your motorcycle
However, when I thought the adventure was over I did not think about the “friendly” people who were helping me again to get my bike off the boat. One offered me his help for carrying my bags while 4 others were pushing my bike over a wooden blank on the dock of the port.
Of course they wanted to have money again… 100 Reals!!!! I suddenly stood in front of 5 angry guys who were not making the intention to leave the place without receiving money. I told them to have had a deal with the captain but none was interested to listen to me. All what mattered was money… in cash!
I got upset and told them not to have anything while one of the guys started to play with the ignition keys of my bike. He even started the engine. It was time to say good bye! I simply got on my bike and left the group in a cloud of dust behind. Some of them started to run after me while another one was pulling his phone out of his pocket to make a phone call.
I was really scared at this time and tried to make as much ground as possible. Unfortunately I had to stop again after 400 meters because the port wanted to have their embarking fee. Another 45.- Reals.
Of course, one of the guys from the group came after me and I simply gave him the 5 Reals change in the hope he would leave me alone. Disappointed, He luckily did!
It is an intense and incredible journey at the same time. Hardly to describe in words and an extreme traveling experience with a huge variety of different people, little sleep, many different scents and kind of impressions at the same time. But more than anything else an unforgettable and wonderful journey on the world’s largest fresh water reservoir.