Today we will not be making port. The entire day is spent on the Amazon. We will cross the Equator again today, this time crossing from the southern hemisphere into the northern; but since we are on the Amazon and not in the Ocean, King Neptune has yet to judge the Pollywogs who are on board. Interestingly enough, we will cross the equator again before leaving the Amazon proper back into the southern hemisphere. It will actually be in the Pacific near Ecuador before we cross the equator in the ocean, and then we have the official King Neptune Equator crossing ceremony.
We learned yesterday at lunch that two couples were mugged in Manaus. One of the couples was with a tour visiting the Opera House, which I talked about earlier. They separated from the group to take some photographs and apparently became the victim of some local thuds. Crime is a problem in the larger cities here, as it is the world over. The biggest concern here however is often the criminal is unable to discern whether the victim really has any valuables. They assume if you are a tourist you are wealthy and have expensive jewelry or a lot of cash. Simply leaving your jewelry home and not being flashy with money will not necessarily lessen the chances of becoming a victim.
As we leave the Amazon here are a few interesting fact as supplied by one of my fellow passengers, Lyle, who is a veteran cruiser and has graciously provided the Cruise Critic group with volumes of useful information regarding various ports we will be visiting.
1) The Amazon region is the world’s largest continuous tropical rain forest, situated in the giant basin of the world’s largest river, the mighty Amazon. The region covers an area of 5.1 million square kilometers, about half the size of Europe. The Amazon River has 1,100 tributaries which contain one-fifth of the entire planet’s fresh water.
2) The Amazon spans nine South American countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname. Sixty percent of the total lies in Brazil.
3) The Amazon forest is full of world records. It has the largest beetle, the Titanus gigantus (12 inches long); the largest eagle, the Harpia amazonica (57 inches high); the largest moth, the emperor moth (18 inches wide); the largest freshwater fish, the pirarucu (up to 10 feet long); and the smallest monkey, the sagui, or pygmy marmoset (which reaches a length of only 6 inches and weighs only about 0.3 pounds).
4) The Brazilian Amazon is home to 170,000 Indians belonging to 210 different tribes, many still living as hunter-gatherers in the ways of their ancestors. Encroaching civilization has brought many new diseases and the devastation of their hunting and fishing grounds.
5) The Amazon boasts the world’s largest variety of species of primates, birds, alligators, frogs, insects, rodents and lizards. There are an estimated 10 million to 15 million species of insects and 300 species of reptiles.
6) In the Amazon region lives the largest number of species of freshwater fish in the world (between 2,000 and 3,000). The Negro River alone has more species than all the rivers of Europe combined.
7) New species of plants and animals are continually being found in the Amazon. Since 1990, seven new species of monkeys were found and 12 species of fish. Of the estimated 5 to 30 million species of plants in the forest, only 30,000 have been studied and identified.
8 ) In some rivers of the Amazon region, the difference in water level between the dry and rainy seasons is equivalent to the height of an eight-story building. Many houses, shops, and even vegetable gardens are built on floating logs and tied to the shore.
9) The Amazon is very sparsely populated, with only 19 million inhabitants in an area the size of the continental United States. You can travel for days without seeing any sign of human habitation.
10) The largest recently contacted Indian nation is the Yanomamo, with a population of about 22,000 in Brazil and Venezuela. Contact with civilization for them has also meant their destruction, as miners invade their lands in search of gold and other precious minerals. It is estimated that there are still about 50 isolated tribes living in the forest with no contact at all with technological society.
My tentative plans for today is to get some walking exercise, I might even go to the fitness center and do some elliptical work. I want to attend a Microsoft seminar on blogging. I know I still have a lot to learn in this area. Our travel guide Frank is giving a presentation of things to see and do in Beleme, our next port. I might try to catch this at 10 o’clock this morning. There is a watercolor class this afternoon, something I have wanted to try but I’m not sure I am ready to commit to that yet! More than likely I will spend the afternoon just reading my Kindle. I have started David McCullough’s Path Between the Seas, the story of the building of the Panama Canal. It is quite interesting, and I thought it would be good preparation for our visit there in a few weeks.
So… that’s it for today unless something really interesting happens and then I will let you know.