The Amazon River.

So after 3 days of traveling down the Amazon River, we arrive in Manaus, Brazil tomorrow morning and begin the Brazil leg of this “epic voyage,” as the deans like to call it. Tuesday I will just be wandering the town of Manaus, enjoying the town, shopping, trying the food and scouting out good places for dinner and nightlife. Then tomorrow night a big group of us will be going out to the famous “Brazilian Steakhouse” our Global Studies teacher raved about. (Global Studies is the class where we learn about the culture of each port we visit. It’s very informational and helpful, and the teacher makes the PowerPoint interesting, even adding sound effects.) Then Wednesday morning I set out to go on my “Amazon Overnight By Riverboat” trip. I will be sleeping on a riverboat IN A HAMMOCK and during the 2 days we have all kinds of things to do! We will be visiting a village along the River, possibly piranha fishing (I can’t quite remember) and, my personal favorite, swimming with PINK RIVER DOLPHINS! The river dolphins are a rare type of dolphins that are literally pink-hues and we will get to go into the river and swim with them. Not sure what else I’ll be doing but I am super excited for it! Although I wish I had done the trip to Rio de Janeiro, maybe I’ll travel back there sometime. I know I won’t be going to Manuas again, at least not along the river route! 6 days round-trip trek on the Amazon is plenty for me!

To be honest, it’s a miracle I’m even leaving this ship after the things everyone in charge keeps telling us. First of all, our Global Studies teacher scared us with accounts of the creepy bugs we could encounter, including a bug that attached to your lip, bites you, and secretes a poison that causes brain swelling. This brain swelling can happen immediately or can happen over twenty years. It’s so creepy! Then of course there’s the threat of malaria, but I’m religiously taking my malaria meds, so no worries! THEN there are the actual bugs I have already seen on the ship! Yesterday after we worked out I went to pick up one of the yoga mats that had blown to the side and as I walked away with it, something moved and I looked down to see several cockroaches attached to the mat. Of course I flipped out and threw the mat to the ground, the other girls screaming and laughing simultaneously at the spectacles I was making of myself. I then proceeded to attempt to ride the mat of the roaches by hitting it with another yoga mat and then sort of flipping the other mat away, but the bugs would just run and hide under the mat. A kind passer-security officer-by saw helpless little me and came over, picked the mat up, shook the bugs off and handed it to me. No screaming necessary. But hey, I’m a girl. We have to be a little dramatic in a time of even minor crisis. So in reality I just stuck to the job description. Bug story number two isn’t really as much of a story as it is a mental picture. Picture a beetle, then picture it the size of my hand, and then picture it with 3-inch pinchers on its head. Proceed with whatever mental picture of me trying not to freak out while also trying to inspect said beetle because of how ridiculous it looked.

Last night, while dodging bugs left and right, we headed to the observation deck to check out the front view of the River. I hadn’t yet visited the observation deck, which is located just above the bridge (that’s where the captain and crew steer the boat and make sure we don’t crash for those of you less-nautically minded readers), railing and all (totally Titanic/Rose & Jack status…pictures to follow). It’s a great view from up there especially because we typically only get the back or side view of where we’re headed. It’s a bit tricky to get there though, unless you’re already in the very front of the ship, which I rarely am. In fact, we went up there tonight right as we finished up our workout (okay, we skipped the very last part) and we watched the sunset, which was absolutely beautiful. And we weren’t the only ones with the same idea. It was packed as we were all trying to get pictures.

Well I’m off to bed as we are going to get a nice and early start tomorrow, and since my roommate, Malia, is going on the Rio trip, and they leave as soon as the ship is cleared to dock, I will probably be up with her.

One last thing before I head to bed. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this but this river is ridiculous. We have been on the River for 3 days now, and for the first SEVERAL hours of being on it, we didn’t see land. See, this is no ordinary river. At points it can be 50 miles wide, hence not seeing land. And for those three days almost all we have seen is muddy water, trees along the banks, bugs, and the occasional house. Actually, today we passed by a town but it was very strange because we slowed down a ton as we went by so a bunch of people started thinking we had already made it to Manaus, which didn’t make sense since we weren’t getting of the ship until the morning. Our normal speed ranges from 13-18 knots, and we had slowed to 4 knots. I guess it must have been a no-wake zone or something, and that applies even to cruise ships hahaha.. I’m actually not sure, it was probably just really shallow but it was funny to watch everyone’s confused faces as we slowly pulled up to this small town along the shore and then picked up speed shortly after. Then we continued on with our tanning, as today was “Brazil Day.” Essentially it was another reading day, but this time with cultural activities that pertained to Brazil, such as music presentations, a Q&A with the US Embassy delegates from Brazil, and a few more things.

Oh that reminds me! So I am one of the SAS Ambassadors, a group of students that helps welcome visitors onboard and tours them around or answers questions about the ship, including foreign dignitaries, foreign university faculty, university students, and more. It was something we signed up for and even had a little audition, and about 35 or so were chosen, including Malia and me. So yesterday the delegates joined our ship community and we spoke with them for a little while before a few of the Ambassadors toured them around the ship, took them to classes and such. We also had a chance later to ask them all about their jobs as the US Embassy and how they made it to that place. Pretty interesting, and it will be different people at every port. For each port, a small group of Ambassadors are chosen to “host” each visitor. I wasn’t chosen this time, but I will be doing stuff in the future. It’s a very cool thing to be apart of and it helps us gain a global perspective on how to interact with people from each of the countries we visit.

Goodnight from the Amazon River!

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