Along the Rio Negro
Several hours outside of Manaus, we discovered that one of the shopping bags didn't make it on the boat. It was a VERY important shopping bag because it was the one that had the bug spray in it! This necessitated an immediate stop! I was still keeping my eye out for those nasty biting "Piunes" !
Along the Negro and Amazon rivers, especially near to a big city like Manaus, there are floating houses tied to the trees on banks of the river that are sort of like your corner 7-11's and Stop-n-Go's here. The sell gasoline and fuel, foodstuffs and other things like bugspray if you're lucky!
So we docked at one of these floating stores that I knew about where the owners had a sort of a tourist attraction, selling lots of local crafts. I knew they would have the GOOD bug spray since they were catering to tourists! Nearby was a large lake with giant lily pads to help draw the tourists. There were even a few crocodiles floating with the lily pads!
The local children poured out of everywhere, each carrying their jungle pets in hopes of getting their pictures taken as soon as they heard us motor up to the dock. They had sloths, monkeys, turtles, and snakes and loved to get their pictures taken!
And they even had bugspray too! So after stocking up and snapping a few pictures, off we went up river again.
All along the river, especially the smaller tributaries, are floating houses where people live. They build a house on large logs which float, then tie it off to a large tree on the banks of the river. This accomodates for the rising and falling water levels so their houses don't flood in the rainy season. Since the land is usually owned by someone else, this also gives them a way and place to live without having to buy land.
The next stop was an unscheduled one. We were flagged down on the river by someone who recognized the Raintree flag on the boat. I am pretty well known on the river... being the only tall, blonde American woman with freckles for miles around - everyone seems to notice me for some reason. They refer to me as the "White Witch" or "Curandera" (which means healer) since I use both plant medicines as well as traditional medicines that I carry with me for people who are sick or injured. The man who flagged us down had a 10 year old daughter who had fallen ill and was requesting help for her. Rather than take my big boat down some smaller tributaries to reach his house, I jumped into his wooden canoe and went with him.
He had one of those floating houses along the river and had 7 children. Each child had several pets which meant there were a BUNCH of animals everywhere! The first little guy that greeted me was this little white-faced monkey that was playing underneath his boat dock when we pulled up.
They also had a baby howler monkey and a half grown Grey Wooly Monkey who immediately jumped into the boat and on top of me to introduce themselves. The howler monkey was a cute little guy who immediately rolled onto his back for a belly-rub and then promptly went to sleep.
The wooly monkey was a completely different story!
When he wasn't on top of my head biting my ears or covering my eyes, he was wrapped around my ankles or trying to crawl back up my legs. Finally, the little boy who he belong to came and took him off my hands (and head). I saw that he didn't fare much better than me with the mischievious monkey. After ejecting him from the house several times where he kept trying to help me care for the little girl and investigate my medicine kit, he finally contented himself with swinging by his tail just outside the window where he could watch. Monkeys are curious creatures indeed!
They also had the usual pet parrots... but even I wasn't prepared for the two crocodiles that they had penned up in the middle of their boat dock!
After leaving some medicines for the little girl, I said goodbye to the monkeys and headed back to my boat to continue on upriver. It took several days going upriver to reach our first harvesting area, even though we were traveling by day as well as at night with the running lights on. I would hang my hammock on the upper deck to sleep at night and watch the incredible sunsets on the river.
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