April 10, 2018
Last evening we were invited to dine with the general manager, Thierry, and the human resources manager, Ileana. We had an enjoyable dinner and as always, learned a lot about life on board for these professionals. Enjoyable but challenging as you can imagine. Ileana is the only HR person on board and doesn’t even have any clerical help.
We arrived in Santarem close to noon and the ship sailed out at 8 PM. This city is a river port with about 250,000 people so it is not a small village. It is located at the junction of the Tapajos River and the Amazon. It is an important trading center and serves as an export location for goods to the local population and transportation to longer distance locations like Manaus and Belem – which takes 2 days. There are many soy plantations and you see lots of barges being loaded with soybeans – mostly for export to China, we learned.
51% of the population is Catholic so you see some beautiful churches.
Santarem used to be inhabited by the Tapajos Indians and local legend has it that they used to drown adulterous women and mummify their distinguished relations!
Our excursion today was a cruise to Maica Lake. One of the things to see at many of the ports, and for sure today, is the meeting of the waters. The Amazon’s water, as I have mentioned, is colder and earth colored and the other river here, the Tapajos, is warmer and has a deep blue tone. What keeps these waters from mixing is the great difference between the water temperature and the currrent speeds.
Our guide told us a lot about the city as well as the nature along the route to Maica Lake. There are 2 species of dolphins here, the pink dolphin and the black or grey batos. We did see both but they disappear too quickly to get any pictures. We may see more of the pink dolphin in Manaus.
Here along the river, as it is now rainy season, many people have to leave their homes and move to the city since the area gets flooded. We did see some people but not many. Here are some of the homes – I wouldn’t want it to be my vacation spot!
Some of the wildlife we saw included many species of birds – the parrots and beautiful oriole blackbird, sloths (hard to see) and iguanas. There were also water buffalo and horses in places along the shore. We couldn’t get a close pic of the oriole blackbird, so our guide showed us one in a book…beautiful.
Here’s what some of the boats looked like. And one of the small fishing boats was also passing by. Notice that one of the boats has a satellite dish on top!
We stopped for about an hour to do some piranha fishing. Here’s the bait and the fishing line. And someone trying to get hooked.
I was one of the 2 passengers that caught one!
They have these small sharp teeth!
This is a scale from the paracau fish which can get to be 250 pounds in weight.
Here our guide, Nelson, holding a small catfish that someone caught.
We enjoyed our trip on the river and in the lake and certainly felt the Amazon vibe and the heat!