High tide

Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
1
143
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Hotel Marilda

Flag of Brazil  , Pará,
Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This place is amazing.  It regularly featues on the list of Brazil`s top 10 beaches, yes beach life in the Amazon! but thats in the drier months as currently its virtually submerged by seasonal high river levels.  All you can see are palapa bar roofs and a really thin strip of sand.  At times you can wade over, keeping a beady eye out for stingrays which bury themselves in the sand - mighty painful if you`re unlucky enough to stand on one.  No matter how little beach there is, it doesn`t stop the folks from nearby Santarem flocking here in big numbers at weekends.

There`s boatmen aplenty who will row you to the beach or further afield.  We choose to visit the "enchanted forest", a near submerged patch of rainforest, and mighty beautiful it is too. 

Next up we`re off to Jamaraqua and Maragua two tiny villages further up the Tapajos river, part of the Floresta national Park.  A lot of this is primary rainforest, at times thin on the ground around here. Very simple communities living within the protected area .

We dine with Doņa Concepcion the village elder in Jamaraqua and sleep over with Joaquin and Maria and their family in Maragua.  At both homes we`re overwhelmed by the welcome we receive and soon become part of the family. Joaquin quickly kits Helen out with a palm leaf skirt and set of matching jewelry and declares her to be the "spirit of the forest", we all piss ourselves laughing. I get sent out to buy beer for the household.

We do a couple of forest walks with local guides and a paddle through the flooded rainforest. As always there is a whole pharmacy`s worth of natural remedies - we lick tree bark, chew berries and smear ourselves in goo.  In doing so we are introduced to the wild version of Vics chest rub, quinine, wound sealers and get up close to natural viagra. 

We are shown ants that hunters squash and smear themselves with to disguise their scent when hunting.  We avoid other, huge ants that will give you a fever for weeks.   Amazingly, there were no mosquitos, that`s right no mosquitos in this part of the Amazon rainforest, something to do with the acidity level of the water hereabouts.  Hammocks and no mossie nets - yippee!!  However, we do let down our guard for the tiny little ants that chew us to bits. We`re scratching for weeks - legs, bums, balls.  Itcheeee.

Highlights are the ginormous trees, something over 1000 years old, Amazonia`s giant redwood equivalent and more fantastical wierd Amazonian fruits.

A stop off  to a rubber tappers cooperative is fab. They seem to do things exactly as they did 100 years ago - a slit in the tree allows the rubber to seep into a cup, simple as that.  The accompanying workshop is also v low tech.  How`s this, I get a glorified rubber band as souvenir, H a designer handbag.  Hmmm. We marvel at rows of rubber sandals, bags, purses, lap top bags in trandy designs and fancy colours.  Its one of the many sustainable business that actually seems to work in the area and its great to see the villagers and the land thriving. 

We are sad to leave so soon and spend the boat journey home contemplating the simple forest life and the great folks we`ve met. Back on dry land town is in full swing.... well as much as this tiny place can swing!

 
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