Floatin´ down the river....
One of the must-do´s for any South American traveller is taking a cruise on the Amazon. Those of you guys, who are water rats, and turn west from Manaus, you are in a different league. Us normal mortals usually go east, the classic Amazonas route, Manaus to Belem. My third time.
In Boa Vista you have to decide, if you´re going to the Guyanas, or not. Since I´m trying to do the Amazon-Guyanas loop, I decided to do the river first, to recover from my Honduran nightmare, to lick my wounds some more, and hopefully to have some scabs fall off. Thus scab-free I will hit the Guyanas.
If you decide for the cruise, this is what you do. You go to the Porto in Manaus. Go to one of the ticket windows, tell the lady where and when you want to go, and she´ll tell you what´s available, when, and at what cost. Buy your ticket there, not from a tout. My ship boarded at the Mercado Municipal, a ten-minute walk. Walk over, check out the chaos, and walk back to your hotel, taking careful note of the one-way streets. On the way you can buy your hammock. Buy a wide one that you can lie diagonally, or else you petrify into a banana. Take the bike down to the beach, and immediately be mobbed by dozens of helpers. Hire four or five. None less will do. They will push, pull, and wrestle the bike onto a floating dock, and push it to the boarding place in front. Now you wait. Don´t pay them. When the boat docks, your helpers will reappear to wrestle the bike on board. Once it is in the place designated by the crew, then you pay them. At the moment anything from Reais25 (about 12$) and up. Here you can show how you can haggle.
I was lucky that I picked a super ship, the Amazon Star,Enart Line, max. 850 passengers. There is second class hammock, first class hammock, air-conditioned (which I picked), cabins (only doubles), and suites. Three meals a day, clean toilets and showers,a bar and TV, and very stable. The best Amazon ride I´ve had.
In Belem, four-and-one-half days later, three helpers are enough to get the bike on shore. 10 bucks will do.
Tomorrow I´m booked on a little puddle jumper to Macapa. I´ll keep you posted.