Special Sub-Topic: A Cruise down the Amazon
|We begin our journey here on this barren mountain. If you'll follow me ladies and gentlemen. Watch your step as you jump over the Amazon. Yes that's right that little rivulet is the start of the mighty Amazon. It's a little cold up here so if someone can tell me the name of this mountain we can head off.|
Mount Quehuishua. Mount Quehuishua is some 18000 feet high nestled in the Andes mountain range. From here the small stream forms the Apurimac River a river infamous for its unforgiving rapids.
|It's at this point folks that our river meets that of the Napo. Way back in 1541 a Spanish Conquistador and his men sailed down the Napo and continued on all the way to the Amazon's mouth. This fellow is credited with being the first to journey the length of the river. What was his name?|
Francisco de Orellana. Orellano and his men had to resort to eating their shoes, boiled with herbs of course. They also brought back with them the first tales of warrior women, Amazons! Friar Gaspar de Carvajal recorded them as 'very white and tall and having hair long and braided and wound about the head, and they are very robust and go about naked, but with their private parts covered.' These women killed seven or eight Spaniards with bow and arrow.
|As we take this break, we strongly advise that if the urge comes upon you, please use the onboard toilet facilities not the river. In the waters of the Amazon basin lurks a nasty little fish that follows urine trails and lodges itself within the urethra. Please be advised that this fish is barbed and removal of the little fellow involves sharp objects and cutting! Can anyone tell me the name of this fish?|
Candiru. Amongst the locals this fish is more feared than the piranha.
|Sorry for the stop here ladies and gentlemen but paperwork has reared its ugly head. We have reached the border between Peru, Brazil and Columbia and we need those visas checked. There isn't much to see here but take the opportunity to explore this town. Who can tell me the name of this town?|
Tabatinga. While you're waiting for your passports to be processed the crew recommends a meal at the Restaurante Tres Fronteiras or a trip by ferry across the Amazon to the town of Benjamin Constant.
|Everybody quick!! If you look to our left you can catch a glimpse of some Amazonian wildlife. Can you see it? There under the jacaranda tree. Oh magnificent! You know its may or may not be the longest snake in the world but it certainly is the most massive. Can anyone tell me what this snake is called?|
Anaconda. Unofficial reports of giant anaconda have been floating about these parts for many years. Some reports have them as thick as oil drums and almost 100 feet long. However the longest official length obtained is still only 27 feet. The reticulated python of southeast Asia grows longer. The anaconda feeds mostly on capybara and caiman.
|I'm sure you have noticed that Portuguese has taken over from the Spanish spoken in Peru. The lands of Brazil were given to Portugal in the Treaty of Madrid way back in 1750 but the Portuguese claimed the lands east of Ecuador for some time before that. In 1637 a Portuguese commander sailed up the Amazon with a huge force of men and boats. They went as far as Quito and then sailed back down again. Can anyone tell me the name of this man?|
Pedro Teixeira. Not one to do things by half Pedro took with him 2000 men and a lazy 47 boats. He claimed the lands east of Ecuador for Portugal.
|We have an unusual surprise for you tonight ladies and gentlemen. As you can see our normal buffet has been replaced by a traditional Amazonian meal. The fish you see is piranha. Better that you bite it than the other way around. Alongside that is a staple of Amazonian cuisine. Yes I know it looks like mush. Who can tell me what it is?|
Manioc. Never mind folks. I'll admit it is a little bland. But we have a special treat for dessert. Capuacu! What is it well? It's a delicious fruit a bit like a coconut crossed with a banana. It's the last word in tropical fruit.
|If you look over the edge of the ship now. Careful there dear, let me help you with that walking frame. As I was saying if you look over the edge you will notice that the river is two different colours. In actual fact we are at the convergence of the Amazon with one of its largest tributaries. The dark waters of that river are filled with the tannin of vast amounts of decomposing vegetation whereas our own Amazon is a muddy brown. This phenomenon goes on for quite a few miles before the two rivers blend together. Can anyone tell me the name of the dark river?|
Rio Negro. The Negro carries very little silt. It comes down from the region known as the Guyana Shield an area leached by rain for thousands of years so nothing remains for the river to wash away but humus.
|The Amazon is home to many curious creatures, some well known others not so well known. Pumas and jaguars hunt capybara, sloth and tapirs under the dense canopy. Insects rule the jungle floor, not to mention the bird-eating spiders. One little known creature is the jiboa. This creature is frequently caught by locals and kept as a pet, earning its keep by keeping the home free of rats and bats. Who can tell me what kind of creature the jiboa is?|
Snake. Yes that's right it's a snake ji-BOA. It's actually a boa constrictor which grows to about ten feet in length. After they grow too big they get put back into the jungle.
|Well folks we've reached the end of our first Amazonian cruise. I hope you enjoyed it. You may be wondering where the land has gone. Well at this point the river is so large that you can no longer see the banks. Infact one of the islands at the mouth of the river is the size of a European country. Guess which one?|
Switzerland. Isla Marajo is slightly bigger than Switzerland, though not nearly as hilly! We finish our journey at Belem across from Isla Marajo. Please enjoy our complimentary selection of tropical diseases which you sure to have picked up on our journey. They're the gift that keeps on giving.
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