Thursday, March 12, 2009

Boat day

The day after I had the lightning event, Gary was headed across the Rio Negro with his friend James (the guy who lives in Manaus).
James had asked a friend who owns a small boat if they would drive us around the river and they had offered to do so.

The friends turned out to be an 18-ish year old boy and a 12 year-ish old boy who were siblings. They were using one of their dad's boats. They were very friendly, even though I couldn't speak to them. I could tell throughout the day they were enjoying themselves.

When we got in the boat we had to fill up on gas first. Gary and I shared the cost of the gas price. It turned out to be about $20 each. No problem considering we're not paying for the boat ride itself.

What I didn't expect was that we filled up gas at a floating gas station on the way out to the river. It was a laugh to see it. You can imagine a small Texaco station just floating in the water with 2 attendants and some long hoses to fill up boats alongside.

We went across the river to a lake area that had light brown water instead of black because it was filled with water from Rio Solimöes and not the Negro. There they took us to a popular lunchtime restaurant on the water where we were going to have lunch.

Behind the restaurant was a small raised platform walkway that took us into the jungle. We walked back there in hopes of finding a resting alligator in the swamp and we found a small one (~1.5m). That's the one I took a picture of last week and put on my blog.

We went back to the boat and they drove us to this house on the river that was quite large and had the family show us their pet anaconda. It was a baby but it was still like 3m long. A little boy brought it out and for some reason I felt safe picking it up. We took some pictures of me with it. Gary didn't even want to touch it. Haha. He stood behind me as we took a picture. I thought that he would have at least touched it's scales but after they took it away I asked him about it and he said it creeped him out too much.

James told me I was very brave to pick up a wild anaconda. *He* didn't even want to hold it. When I heard that I realized that yes, it was not domesticated. A feeling of "oh shit!" dawned over me. I could have been strangled if the snake got pissed. Yikes! That was kind of dumb of me. I had held an anaconda before at a zoo, and that was why I felt safe picking this one up, but who knows what kind of history this snake has had. Definitely not controlled from the looks of this family who was using it just to make money from tourists. They charged us $5 to see the snake.

I put the snake down just in time too, because then it started pissing yellow gooey stuff from it's lower orifice, which was pretty nasty looking and it would have sucked to get that on me.

The buffet lunch was good. And after that we were planning to go swimming but there was a huge storm where the beach was and so we decided to head back toward town first. On the way to town the kids went in the wrong direction and we entered a swamp that had a lot of weeds in it that damaged the engine of the boat, so then we really had to go back home.

They took us back across the river in the small storm and choppy waves and from there we took a taxi home.

Because of my inherent mistrust of people, I questioned secretly if the whole thing was a scam to get a free lunch and to get their gas tank filled. James seems like an innocent guy though so I think he wasn't in on it and he also probably didn't see it coming. But we paid together $75 (+ $10 tip) for the lunch and the snake and the gas, and we got a 4 hour personal boat ride out of it, which still isn't bad but for $50 I could have gone with a professional company and done a full day of activities with them in a tour group style.

I was not convinced that the engine was damaged. That was the other thing. I had a feeling the kids were faking it so that we might tip them more because we felt bad. I didn't have a chance to look at it and I don't know much about boat engines anyway, and they probably knew that too.

The activities we did, I enjoyed. I just assume most people are trying to scam me most of the time though.


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