Saturday, April 23, 2011

Giant Lilly Pad & fire

This morning we were allowed to sleep in until breakfast at 8AM. They had birdwatching up on deck at 6AM, and going to bed by 8:30PM of course we were up there at 6AM. The mornings are unbelievably peaceful here. Very rarely do the dugout canoes that have little motors on them travel at nighttime and we have always been tied to shore at night so no motors from our ship. We have not seen any other tourist boats all week, and only a couple of barges have gone by, so little traffic it is amazing on such big rivers.

We saw our first storks this morning, and more parrots going by, so amazing to see parrots in the wild.


After breakfast we went to visit the Amazonian giant lily pads. I have seen these before in Kew garden in London, but nothing like seeing them on the Amazon. There were literally hundreds of these on the river, many in different stages of flowering. The flowers last 72 hours and go through 3 different colors until they die, and the lily pads themselves live for 6 weeks. Again we were met by locals in their dugout canoes selling their crafts, again Andre and I have no money on us, we will never learn.

Just before we arrived at the lily pads a small boat with an outboard motor from our ship arrived with the 3 people that had stayed behind for this excursion and they came along for the rest of the morning.

Come to find out there had been a fire on board and they were forced to evacuate. The passengers did not know what had happened, and the crew handled this amazingly. We knew something was up because when we got back on board our cabin hadn't been made up while we were out, and this was the first time this had happened. The fire started in the engine room, and we heard that the locals came to help in their dugout canoes, on the way back to the ship from our excursion Andre noticed that one of these little canoes had a pump on board, I guess he was one of the ones that came to help. The couple with the room closest to the engine room are in a bit of a mess. They have had to move cabins to one of the guide’s cabins, and their clothes have been washed once and don't seem to smell so bad. I don't think they will ever get the smell of smoke out of their suitcases, so their clothes may smell terrible again tomorrow. I am so glad this happened on the last day, all of the false alarms during the week, I wonder if this was brewing all week. I don't know how well I would have slept had this happened earlier. Andre has a pair of sneakers that I think are ruined from the fire extinguisher material, we left our sneakers on deck when we finished excursions and the crew would wash them for us, he forgot to pick his up the night before so they may be finished.

Anyway now off for our afternoon excursion after all this excitement. This afternoon we are fishing for piranhas, you are given a stick with fishing line on it and a hook with a little bait. You shake up the water a little bit with he end of your stick and then basically just try to set the hook when you feel a bite. We were having a competition between the 2 skiffs on who could catch the most for supper. Our skiff caught 7, and the other skiff caught 13 in 1 hour. We certainly had a lot of laughs. Andre was doing catch and release, he caught 4 that he got up in the air and they jumped off. I had lots of nibbles but couldn't get the hook set. The teeth on these things are really scary, I would not have wanted to fall in!

Back to the boat for supper and you wouldn't have known there had been a pretty big fire except for a little smell that lingered. Lucky for us our cabin was on the bow, and the engine room was on the stern so we had very little smell in our room.

This afternoon we also arrive to where the Ucayalli and Maranon Rivers come together to form the Amazon River. Really not too exciting except to say that we have been to where the river starts. We were surprised at home fast the currents were on all of these large rivers, and so much erosion, there were many dead head logs and trees in the rivers that made travelling in the dark dangerous and we rarely did this. Normally we were simply tied up to a large tree for the nights.

Our last supper together on board and it is an early night because we have a 2AM wake up, yep 2AM, yuck.

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