I have so much to tell you! I'm in Manaus now (capital of Amazonas), a little hung over, but feeling great.
Heading into the Amazon has been *wonderful*. Maybe it's some kind of learned association, but the moment you set leg in a hammock, with the wind whisping across the deck and the slow rocking of the boat, you enter this incredible calm revere. I had plenty to read, work, and think on, which kept me busy when I wasn't watching the forest. I just finished the interesting stuff as the boat began it's final approach into Manaus International Harbor.
The land along the Amazon river is gorgeous, and much more varied than I'd been told. Everywhere, the forest is a collage of a gazillion kinds of trees, but it varies from a dense green that overflows the banks, to awkward Dr. Seuss trees, to Lake Mendocino-like brushland, to treey farms. One day, the boat was passing floating water plants; the next it was inundated with endless yellow butterflies; the next night, huge swarms of moths clouded around every light.
The food on the boat looks great, but its as bad as everyone says. I have a fairly iron-clad stomach, and I felt sick after every meal. In part, it's because I am sick. I can't tell if it's the Malaria pills, or if the pills just gave my body a way to express a disease it already had. In any case, it's the sort of under-the-weatherness that I can ignore.
Mid-way to Manaus, I stopped in Santarém and bussed to Alter do Chão, a small chicken-roamed village on a fantastically beautiful lagoon, with a large white-sand island 100 meters off shore. I met two pairs of Europeans, and we found a nice Pousada (small hotel) and hung out.
I took a kayak out on the lagoon and there was not another soul there. It would be inconceivable elsewhere for such a beautiful lake to not be covered in boats, but I'm in the middle of the freaking Amazon. I found my very own flooded forest-- it even had a sign that said "Property of jrising. No Trespassing!" I wandered all around it and saw a big fish-- it looked like a gourami, but I bet it was a parahna. One of my trees had a bunch of vines hanging from it-- I gave them some tugs to see if I could swing on them, but they didn't seem very structural. I would have tried harder, but I was worried about being eaten by the paranha. Right next door was another flooded forest, property of jdub0014-- I'd always wanted to kayak in her forest, so I wandered around there too.
In Manaus, my couchsurf fell through. It was my fault-- I forgot how to make long-distance calls in Brazil. But I ended up at a great anglophile hostel, with some cool Europeans. One girl had a birthday, and we went to one of the best restaurants in the city, where endless waiters with long sticks of meat (FYI, I haven't returned to veggieness yet-- it's tough to do here) filled out plates as long as we wanted. We came back and got trashed on cachaça and beer and a little 3-man (not my idea), and talked third-world politics and sex.
Now I need to see some of this city before I have to catch my flight to São Paulo, tomorrow morning!