She rose out of the mist of the jungle
from which she was born - Arumanduba -
village remote and caressed by Amazon heat
with the sounds and smells of life brushing
her soul, forming poetry dark and lonesome,
abandoned by mother, bromeliad child.
A whisper lost in the canopy returns with
the chatter of monkeys. Gesture masked
in the faces of naked children play a dance
one thousand years old with face paint
And chants - the Shaman's blessing, lullabies
I heard in childhood that scratched my head
to sleep... sleep, and the dreams of ancient memory
passed on like second sight to part the mist.
-M. Peterson 1993
June 2, 1997
My flight left at noon from Avoca (Wilkes Barre-Scranton Airport).
or was supposed to at least....
If you have ever seen Home Alone then you'll know... when the mom is trying to get home,
she gets stuck in Scranton where she meets the Polka singers. Polka, Polka, Polka...
She hitches a ride with them to Chicago. I think there are several songs about Scranton too.
Why would be a good question. It is a sleepy town when compared to Orlando.
I have bad luck with flights and this one was no exception. It was canceled. Electrical
problems. Ok... no problem (I thought)... my connection in Philly would have brought me in
with a seven hour wait in Miami before departure to Brazil... I'll take the next flight.
It leaves me with a 1hr45min layover... which is under the 2 hours required for
international flights but... They said they would speed me to my connection and
I am checked straight through to Brazil... Well... I arrive in Philly and wait and wait...
my connection to Miami is late... and so I start scurrying around trying to change my
flight to Miami... I CAN'T MISS MY FLIGHT TO BRAZIL!!! It was nuts... there were
no other flights and now there was this
Weather Condition and so no flights
were leaving. Rain. Just Rain. I wanted to scream.... I cried... I was frantic. I was
hysterically making calls to Brazil at the Courtesy Desk of USAirways.
First I tried calling the Tropical Hotel in Manaus where I had reservations but I had the wrong number. "Oh my God! Brian has my itinerary so I don't have the correct number." So I call the Pousada, where I would be staying in the jungle, to see if someone there had the phone number to the hotel. They didn't understand my Portuguese and I theirs... I didn't know if "meio" meant 5 or 6. In weight, it means 6. I dialed six. I was wrong. I woke some poor woman up out of bed with a wrong number. So I had to call my Tio Mario in Salvador and ask him if he would get the number and make the calls I needed. I called him in a panic, sobbing, barely comprehensible. I wasn't certain if he could understand me beneath my uncontrollable sobbing. I called my mother to ask her to call my uncle and tell him what was going on in CLEAR Portuguese and ask her to tell Tio Mario to call my hotel in Manaus so that I wouldn't lose my deposit. .... No answer. I called my sister to ask her to call my mother. She answered. THANK GOD! She called. My mother called. My Uncle called. But... I wouldn't know any of this for another two days while I was traveling, trying to leave the US, trying to leave PENNSYLVANIA (the black hole of air travel).
The next ordeal... was to get a flight to Miami. I knew that if I could just get to Miami, then I could get to Brazil. After running all over the airport, it was resolved. I had to keep my same flight. I left Philly around 9:30pm... I would miss my flight to Brazil.
I arrived in Miami after midnight. The airport was empty. No one was at US Airways to help me and now my bags were lost as well. I called the toll-free number. The woman I spoke with made a reservation for me for the next flight. It wasn't until I went to the baggage claim attendant to start the search for my lost bags that it was discovered that the next flight wasn't leaving for another couple of days. Unacceptable. I couldn't stay in Miami for two days. They had a computer at the baggage claim... they fiddled around and found another airline with flights to Brazil the following night but...It wasn't direct to Manaus... I would have to go to Sao Paulo first, a 7 hour lay-over there and then an afternoon flight to Manaus. By this time I wanted anything. ANYTHING! They changed my flight, but I couldn't get ticketed until the following night at the counter... I had a reservation. They got me a hotel. But, the horror wasn't over yet.
After running through three airports in one day trying to get flights, I was drenched in sweat. I was wearing a jean dress. It needed to be washed so I did... in the sink. It was 3:00am by the time I went to bed. I couldn't sleep. The room I was given at the airport hotel was the size of a closet, no window... I was in a coffin!!!! I read for an hour before I forced myself to try to sleep. I woke about 9:00am... my clothing was soaked. There were no irons, no blow dryers so like the old Brazilian saying, "if you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat", I hunted with a cat. I spent two hours trying to dry my dress on a light bulb!!!
Well... I eventually checked out... spent a lovely 10 hours roaming the airport. Got to the airlines... checked in... OH GOD NO!!!! they were saying that I didn't have a ticket. US Airways ticketed me when there were no seats left. Somehow though they got me on the plane to Brazil. Thank you. I found my bags. Varig had them. I checked them in with Trans Brasil and off I went.
It was a long flight but I made it. The food was good, the service, the movie... I slept two hours. Customs wasn't a problem. I was alone most of the time in the airport in Sao Paulo. I kept falling asleep... sitting up. I was so happy to finally arrive in Manaus around 6:30pm June 4, 1997. I got a taxi and went to the hotel. That night, I ate at the hotel restaurant, took the best shower I EVER had and fell asleep quickly. The next morning I had to leave at 6:00am for the Pousada.
I forgot to set my alarm.
June 5, 1997
The phone rang at 7:00am with a sharp piercing voice. I answered, "hello." I didn't know where I was. It was my guide. He spoke English. I had overslept. "Give me five minutes... I will be right down." Three minutes later, there was a knock on the door. It was the bellboy. I answered while zipping up my shorts. We had a long drive ahead of us... first we had to pick up the other couple that was coming with us. It would be 3.5 hours by car and then another 3 by canoe. It was hot, humid and the bumpy ride made you sleepy. There is something erotic in the tropical air... I sat in the jeep waning in and out of sleep - that luscious half-wake state. We were all amazed at the sights by canoe, finally arriving around 1:30. We were greeted with glasses of fresh squeezed tangerine juice, checked into our cabanas and went to lunch. I was in cabana #1, a big airy apartment with tile floors and a screened in porch. Lunch (as all the meals) was a buffet: tropical fruits, breads, fried fish - caught fresh, rice, feijoada, and assorted salads. We had to purchase our beverages.
After lunch, sesta until 3:00pm when we would take a hike in the jungle. Nothing of importance occurs between 12:00-3:00. The heat and humidity keep everyone inside who doesn't have to be out. I swam for an hour in the pool - no chlorine! In fact, most everything has to be brought into the lodge by boat... food, water, Coca Cola. After my swim, I read my book, and relaxed.
This is a view of the Pousada das Guanavenas, where I stayed... some 400km northeast of Manaus. Near a village called Silves....
After sesta... It was time for a hike into the jungle. We jumped into our canoe and went down the river
for about an hour where the highlands are located. Along the way, we saw the giant water lilies in a secluded cove. They were beginning to fade since it was at the end of their season but they were still impressive in size and beautiful.
When we arrived at the highlands, we hiked up the cliff and through a fazenda (farm) where they were growing manioca (the most important staple in their diet) and followed a small path into the jungle. We were told, "following paths is good, no path = NOT good". Well... here comes one of my EMBARRASSING stories that my children love so much... we are hiking along and our guide is showing us all the different vegetation. Our focus is in the trees because that is where a lot of danger lies... jaguar, cobra, etc., when I see a monkey in the lower branches of a tree close by (the monkeys just loved me). I yell, "LOOK!" (in portuguese) and as very everyone turns to see what I am pointing at (while I continue to walk along not paying any attention) I trip over a huge log and fall face first to the ground. Naturally, I scared the monkey away. But to make it worse, all they witnessed was me yelling as I took a swan dive. Boy, did I feel silly. I'm not sure they believed me when I told them I saw a monkey but.. the moral of the story is: in the jungle, it is important to stay equally focused on tree and ground.
June 6, 1997
Cruising Rio Urubu, a black river, filled with tanins (like tea), acidic - which is good...
...It keeps the mosquitos away. Later that night we went spotting for alligators.
Jacare. This is our guia (holding the alligator) and barceiro.
I touched the alligators hand. This one is female about two meters long.
|The alligators are really quite shy this time of year and all those stories you've heard about Piranha are just NOT true (most of the time). In the Estacao da Seca, the dry season, the water levels fall drastically and this massive body of water is nothing but a small river. The alligators line the bank during this time and the piranha ARE hungry. Piranha won't attack unless they smell blood but the alligators are always looking for a tasty morsel.|
|This (not so) little monkey followed me all over the pousada. He gets quite frisky when he thinks you might have some treats. This is a small sample of the giant lilies. They get quite big. The fish love to hang around these areas so do the alligators.|
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