Manacapuru. Jungle town of Amazonia on the River Manacapuru, Brazil….Town harbour. Part Two.

Manacapuru. Jungle town of Amazonia on the River Manacapuru, Brazil….Town harbour. Part Two.

The town or city of Manacapuru is close to Manaus. Although regarded as a city it looks and acts like a town.

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The harbour of Manacapuru is my favourite place to people watch. There is a bustling community of people living and working there. There are small family shops, cafes and carpenters at work and fishermen setting off or returning with a selection of fascinating and sometimes odd looking fish.

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The walk down to the decking can be a precarious one for flat footed Westerners. Brazilians, even in their flip-flops, are more light footed and agile. The walk down is best done with a partner for balance or a helpful local. In the dry season a large tree trunk serves as a bridge between the slippery concrete ramp and the wooden harbour decking. Fortunately a terrified look will usually generate the help of a man or two who will help with the crossing.

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There are ferries coming and going. Large wooden ferryboats and smaller, faster aluminium craft. They carry locals to their communities on other parts of the river.
Canoes of various sizes are tied up to the harbour posts.
Before the ferries became a mainstay the canoes were the only way of traveling longish distances and could take a day or two of rowing in the heat of the sun to reach town.
Now the canoes are rowed out to meet the ferry midwater if the people can afford the cost…cheaper on the wooden ferry than the speedier metal boats.

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Along the harbour decking shops sell all sorts of goods…fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and turtle meat, drinks and water, alongside newly built canoes and plastic kitchen goods.
Washing hangs on lines across the walkways and families, including children, sit chatting, arguing and laughing.

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Across the wide river you can catch a glimpse of rainforest…so close and tempting.

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Ferry Boats…Amazon Rainforest Travel.

Ferry boats…Amazon Rainforest Travel.

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Travelling in the Amazon is usually done by boat, either canoe, small fast boat or ferry.
Ferries can be small, sleek and fast, but more often medium size and slow.
These wooden craft are the boats favoured by locals for longish trips, because they are the cheapest way to travel on the endless river systems.

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They are also relaxing. Passengers will often bring their own hammock on board. The hammock is then attached to hooks on the boats ceilings and used to sleep and rest in and to keep children entertained and safe.
It is usual to see men fast asleep and snoring, women breast feeding small babies or reading or playing with children, old people talking animatedly in family groups, teenagers flirting and holding hands, all laying in their hammocks.
I found it a peaceful, calm and civilised way to travel and preferred it to the sleek, fast, modern craft with the noisy engines humming away, vibrating through your body and ending all possibility of conversation.
Although admittedly the engines on these old wooden boats can be noisy themselves and can belch out unpleasant diesel fumes. Distancing your hammock from the engine compartment is an art and requires good knowledge of the boats design.

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I had to board one of these ferries in the middle of a deep caiman and piranha infested river one summer morning.
I stood up in the canoe and grabbed one of the huge tyres on the side of the boat. I had one foot in the canoe, the other in a tyre. For an instant I panicked, then turned towards the ferry and held on for dear life. All the while the canoe and ferry were moving, but in different directions.
I managed to climb up on top of the tyres and grabbed the handrail and hauled myself over.
The captain and passengers looked on nonchalantly as the ‘Gringo’ ie me, boarded in this unusual fashion…..ferries are usually boarded from harbour decking. The captain came up to me with a broad smile and shook my hand with a look of respect.
I was royally fed and watered by the kind locals on the five hour journey back to town who prepared meals like fish soup in a tiny kitchen.

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A forest neighbour built this model of a ferry for his son.