We made our way to the port on Thursday morning and negotiated our spot on a cargo/passenger boat that was set to depart on Saturday afternoon for Manaus. Since it would be sitting in port for a couple of days getting loaded with cargo, we were allowed to sleep on the boat for those 2 nights for free. We were able to store our luggage with our hotel from Wed night, so this was a great option. We eventually found an atm that worked and settled out all of the logistics. As we sat in the hammocks on Thursday evening, watching a beautiful sunset, we saw our first river dolphins jumping out of the water! Freshwater dolphins! We had read about them-but it was so crazy to see. The river wasn´t very wide here and we couldn´t tell if they were the pink or grey…but very cool none-the-less.
Our 2 nights on the dock presented beautiful sunsets and plenty of river dolphin spotting. It was a great couple of days given the lack of people on board which made it feel like we had it all to ourselves and the awesome scenes.
The other upside of living on the boat for a few days before departure is that we didn´t get crowded into our spot nearly as bad as many others. The boat was beyond the rated capacity for persons on board (as marked on the boat) and it was PACKED with people. Some people had double and triple stacked hammocks. We were happy to at least have some space.
The downside of our spot was a bratty kid right next to us and a crabby jerk of a man near us who basically expected us to know portugeuse. Given the similarities to Spanish, we know that he went on a rant about why you would visit that country without speaking the language. It was really frustrating given that I was trying to speak in portugeuse and we are doing fairly well with the 2 most popular languages in the world (Spanish and English) and he speaks a language spoken in only 2 countries in the entire world. Luckily, there were a few people around who spoke Spanish fairly well who seemed to befriend us quite a bit and recognized that the guy was a bit of an ass given how much effort we were putting into communications.
It was hard to get used to the packed out boat. Especially since we had so much space for 2 nights. Once we accepted it for what it was, it was a nice experience to boat up the river and enjoy the scenes. We didn´t see any more dolphins, but the sunsets and amazon landscape were quite amazing.
On the last morning, we woke up at 0600 and our SPanish-speaking friends on the boat explained that we were at the ¨meeting of the waters¨. This is where the 2 main tributaries that feed the Amazon meet. As they have different velocities, densities, and mineral constituents, you can visibly see the 2 rivers running side-by-side through the area. It is a black and brown river that don´t mix for several kilometers. It was quite cool to see, even in the darkness.
We arrived in Manaus early on Tuesday morning and walked towards our first hotel choice. It was pricier than expected. While I waited with bags while Jason scoped out a few options, we were approached by several people offering lodging at their hostels. We settled into one of the options and began the process of trying to pick the perfect tour for our time in Manaus - the heart of the Brazilian Amazon.