We continued our journey along the Amazon River today, traveling upriver 120 miles to the mouth of a small tributary called the Pucuruí River. Our morning and evening were spent in Zodiacs, wandering leisurely along the banks looking for birds and other wildlife. Thanks to the eagle eyes (pun intended) of our naturalists, several local species were spotted including many varieties of parrots, macaws, toucans, hawks, vultures, kingfishers, and more.
We also spotted another very interesting species along the riverbanks: humans! Despite its reputation as one of the world’s last great unspoiled ecosystems — which it is — the Amazon River is also home to millions of people who live, fish, and travel along its waters. We started our morning excursion at 6:00 a.m.; just in time to catch people waking up and starting their day, stepping sleepy-eyed out of their wooden homes to marvel at the Zodiacs filled with foreigners. Most residents are farming açai, a local fruit that has become all the rage in health food stores in the U.S. and beyond. Along with the native fauna, we spotted chickens, pigs, dogs and other domestic animals; we also saw satellite dishes, solar panels, and even a sign advertising an internet hotspot.
We came upon one group that told us they had been celebrating a birthday until 2:00 a.m. the night before, but even in the early morning hours they still seemed ready to party. On our evening excursion, in a lovely demonstration of local hospitality, one family invited our guests to come into their home for a cup of coffee. We had to pass, since the sun was setting and it was time to return to the ship. I hope someday to be able to go back and take them up on that offer!