Allan & Lynn McWillliam – Adventures on the Amazon
Using a myriad of slides from each of the four ports of call on the Amazon,, Allan and Lynn held our attention with tales of their exploits during a four week cruise. The first port was Manaus which is located in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, on the banks of the Negro River in northwestern Brazil, the capital of the vast state of Amazonas. It’s a major departure point for the surrounding Amazon Rainforest. Just east of the city, the dark Negro River converges with the brown, muddy Solimões River resulting in a striking visual phenomenon called the “Meeting of the Waters.” These combined tributaries form the Amazon River said Allan.
Then onto Belem, Portuguese for Bethlehem where Allan and Lynn endured 95 degrees heat in the rain and were treated to a river boat trip with no sea, just hammocks and then another trip on an equally unsafe boat which only contained old unsecured plastic chairs. Surprisingly, continued Lynn, in the main park, no one was to be seen, it was empty of people. Safety was the reason.
Then onto Santarem, located 500 miles from Manus, it has become a popular tourist destination and is the second-most important city in the state, and the financial and economic center of the western part of the state. In the recent past, said Allan, in an attempt to replace favelas, the “Project” was developed to house inhabitants in better and more sanitary conditions. The rows and rows of many identical houses shown had no numbers or street names. After an enormous celebration of the opening of the “Project,” merry residents were unable to locate their new home with ease.
Allan & Lynn continued with their amusing and informative anicdotes, including the sampling of rubber saplings by British explorers, who then went to Malaysia and developed rubber plantations which could be more easily harvested than the wild, sporadic Amazonian trees. This in effect devastated the once very lucrative rubber trade in South America. In Santarem, Allan & Lynn were told about the deadly needle fish/candiru species which have been known to grow to a size of 40 centimetres (16 in) in length, others are considerably smaller. These smaller species are known for an alleged tendency to invade and parasitise the human urethra; Also when visiting Paratins Allan & Lynn experienced the Festival do Boi-Bumbá,Bumba Meu Boi, or simply Festival, the event takes place during three days in late June. The festival celebrates a local legend about a resurrected ox. It is also a competition where two teams, Garantido and Caprichoso, compete in extended retellings of the story, each team attempting to outdo the other with flamboyant dances, singing, andparades and floats. Each team has to complete its show within two and a half hours. A team that does not follow this time limit is subjected to points penalties. Each nightly performance is largely based on local Amazonian folkelore and indiginous culture, but also incorporates contemporary Brazilian rhythms and themes.The place where the teams present themselves is called “Bumbódromo”, a round, grounded stage. The “Bumbódromo” supports 35.000 people in the audience.