Meeting of the Waters in the Amazon


This is the sixth article in a series about the Amazon region of Brazil featured in my illustrated picture book, Alexander the Salamander. This one is about the Meeting of the Waters. Previous travelogues highlighted the Amazon River, the city of Manaus, Amazon Ecopark, piranhas, and a monkey reserve. Upcoming articles will focus on the rainforest and indigenous peoples. Enjoy these travelogues with photos and stories from one of the world’s mightiest rivers.

The Meeting of the Waters, where two major tributaries, the Rio Negro and Rio Solimões, merge and form the Amazon River, is a sight to behold. Like the convergence of the Blue and White Nile rivers in Africa, the collision of these rivers is a spectacular mixture of color that looks like a blend of black coffee and milk tea. The darker Rio Negro with its decaying, organic debris and foliage flows into the light brown Rio Solimões. The result is a swirl of lighter and darker water that ebbs and flows for more than six miles downstream like yin and yang.

Differences in the temperature, speed, and water density create a boundary between the two rivers that continues like an impenetrable wall until the Rio Negro is finally absorbed by the Solimões. The slower-moving water of the Rio Negro flows about two kilometers per hour at a temperature of 28°C (82°F) while the Solimões moves up to six kilometers per hour at 22°C (72°F).

In July 2008, we took a river cruise from the Amazon Eco-Park Jungle Lodge to see this phenomenon. The swirling mixture of water looked almost potable. Almost. Our boat cruised for a while up and down the snaking line, giving us the chance to snap photos. I watched in amazement as the Gemini twins battled for supremacy. The Solimões was the more aggressive of the two. Sometimes it made some gains; sometimes the Negro rebuffed its advance.

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Our cruise boat departed the Meeting of the Waters about noon and passed through shallow water of a channel on the Rio Solimões. I wondered whether the trees protruding from the water were tall or the boat was close to scraping the riverbed.

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We stopped for lunch at a small village not far from the Meeting of the Waters. It was just half an hour downstream from the city of Manaus but felt a world away. With no motorized vehicles that I could tell, the residents relied on their feet and boats to get around. The church and school were the main buildings in the small, dry earthen square shaded by stately palms.

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The locals seemed industrious and enterprising. They helped the tourists who disembarked to eat and browse the large gift shop filled with handmade souvenirs like stuffed and mounted piranhas that were presumably made by the villagers. I’m sure the residents earned a healthy income from the steady stream of tourists who visited each year. Others were busy working on the dock, farming, or fishing.

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I saw one villager making rubber from the sap of a rubber tree. After tapping the tree with cuts that looked like slashes from a bear’s claws, the man collected the oozing white substance in a container and melted it into a large ball on a stick. I assumed that he was gathering the rubber to sell to a manufacturer or broker.

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We returned to the Meeting of the Waters in the afternoon and followed the Rio Negro upstream past Manaus to our resort. Another day in the Amazon introduced us to yet more facets of this fascinating place.

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More About the Amazon

Click here to read about Manaus, Brazil.

Click here to read about piranhas, a well-known fish native to the Amazon.

Click here to read about the Amazon River.

Click here to read about the Amazon EcoPark Jungle Lodge.

Click here to read about an Amazon monkey reserve.

About Alexander the Salamander

clip_image002A young salamander named Alexander living in the Amazon River Basin joins his friends Airey the Butterfly and Terry the Tarantula for an unforgettable jungle adventure. Come along with Alexander and friends as they meet birds, monkeys, and other creatures, enjoy the beauty of the rainforest, and face danger along the way.

The first book in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, Alexander the Salamander is an illustrated story inspired by the authors’ visit to the Amazon in 2008. Fun for kids and adults alike, the story teaches children the importance of listening to teachers and other authority figures.

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories and Alexander the Salamander, a children’s story set in the Amazon. His books are available to purchase as an e-book and in print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Amazon Monkey Reserve


This is the fifth article in a series about the Amazon region of Brazil featured in my illustrated picture book, Alexander the Salamander. This one is about a monkey reserve in the Amazon. Previous posts highlighted the Amazon River, the city of Manaus, Amazon Ecopark, and piranhas, a well-known fish native to the Amazon. Upcoming articles will focus on the rainforest and indigenous peoples. Enjoy these travelogues with photos and stories from one of the world’s mightiest rivers.

Not far from the Amazon EcoPark Jungle Lodge on the banks of the Tarumã River lies a sanctuary for monkeys that have been orphaned, injured, or confiscated from illegal dealers. The dozens of primates who are rehabilitated and, if possible, released back into the wild find respite there from the harsh reality of the jungle. Visiting the reserve managed by the Amazon EcoPark and spending time with its friendly residents was one of the highlights of our trip to the Amazon region.

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The gray woolly monkeys, one of two genera of monkey at the reserve, greeted us upon arrival. Their name comes from their thick, wool-like fur that beckoned to be touched. Their longing eyes looked at us for hand outs with an eagerness that cast a spell over even the most calloused visitor.

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The gray monkeys are cousins to the brown, or common woolly monkey, the Colombian woolly monkey, and the silvery woolly monkey that live together in the same areas of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

Even though we didn’t feed them, a job we left to their caretakers, the woolly monkeys still mingled with our group. One took a liking to my young son, who fearlessly pet its soft fur.

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We also encountered red bald uakari monkeys. These were more timid and reserved than their woolly counterparts, preferring to linger in trees and making wide berths around our group. These distinctive creatures are from one of four species of uakari (pronounced “wakari”), the others being the black-headed uakari, Ayres black uakari and Neblina uakari. This one inspired the character “Manny the Monkey” in my book Alexander the Salamander.

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Both woolly and uakari monkeys prefer to spend most of their time in trees, although the reserve’s inhabitants might have been an exception because they seemed to spend much of their time milling about on the ground with the humans.  The woolly monkeys had long, strong tails that allowed them to balance and swing from limb to limb without using their hands, while the uakari’s strong arms and legs helped them jump long distances from tree to tree. Both used their arms and legs when they walked on the ground around us. It was fun watching them swinging in the trees as if putting on an acrobatic show.

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I watched the monkeys lounge around and eating food. Meal time was a shared free for all. The two species seemed to get along well as de facto neighbors in the reserve. None of them fought over their lunch and seemed content with their fair share, although I’m sure they’ve had food fights and monkeyed around.

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While some might disapprove of the close interaction between humans and monkeys and tourists wanting to pet and take photos with these creatures, I appreciated the efforts of the Lodge to help rescue and rehabilitate them. Their populations range from vulnerable to endangered because of legal and illegal hunting and habitat loss caused by deforestation, and the sanctuary’s efforts will help the monkeys survive for generations to come.

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More About the Amazon

Click here to read about Manaus.

Click here to read about piranhas.

Click here to read about the Amazon River.

Click here to read about the Amazon EcoPark Jungle Lodge.

Visit A-Z Animals for more information about woolly and uakari monkeys.

About Alexander the Salamander

clip_image002A young salamander named Alexander living in the Amazon River Basin joins his friends Airey the Butterfly and Terry the Tarantula for an unforgettable jungle adventure. Come along with Alexander and friends as they meet birds, monkeys, and other creatures, enjoy the beauty of the rainforest, and face danger along the way.

The first book in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, Alexander the Salamander is an illustrated story inspired by the authors’ visit to the Amazon in 2008. Fun for kids and adults alike, the story teaches children the importance of listening to teachers and other authority figures.

 

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories and Alexander the Salamander, a children’s story set in the Amazon. His books are available to purchase as an e-book and in print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

An Eco-Resort in the Amazon


This is the fourth article in a series about the Amazon region of Brazil featured in my illustrated picture book, Alexander the Salamander. This one is about the Amazon Ecopark. Previous posts highlighted the Amazon River, the city of Manaus, Brazil and piranhas, a well-known fish native to the Amazon. Upcoming articles will focus on its rainforest, indigenous groups, and wildlife. Enjoy these travelogues with photos and stories from one of the world’s mightiest rivers.

An hour-long boat ride upriver from Manaus brought us to the Amazon Ecopark Jungle Lodge, an eco-resort on the Tarumã River, a tributary of the Amazon that flows into one of the main branches of the Rio Negro.

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Nestled in a quiet cove, the lodge was our home for five days in July 2008. When we arrived, I thought we had been stranded on Gilligan’s Island until we saw the carved wooden sign near the dock confirming that we were in the right place.

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The site was only accessible by water, and I felt like we were being marooned in the jungle until a boat took us back to civilization.

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The Ecopark offered plenty to see and do in the small area where we were permitted to wander without a guide (not that I had any desire to get lost in the jungle, mind you). We could walk on the beach, enjoy the view, or swim in the cove – an opportunity that my family reluctantly avoided. Other visitors were brave enough to take a dip, but we weren’t about to swim with the caimans, piranhas or needlefish. Instead, we walked around the lodge and snapped photos.

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The beautiful scenery whispered “Amazon,” coaxing me to tell its story and inspiring me to write Alexander the Salamander. The still pool of water from a small stream made an idyllic backdrop for the creatures featured in the book.

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Unplugged with no Internet or phone access that would have made ardent tech addicts stir crazy, the lodge made up for it with leisure activities. My son and I enjoyed many a game of pool and chess. While he had some trouble getting the pool stick to connect with the cue ball, the little chess whiz beat his dad over and over.

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Once in a while, dad got the upper hand.

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The Ecopark offered several off-site excursions to introduce visitors to the Amazon, including boat cruises to an indigenous village and the Meeting of the Waters at the confluence of the Rio Negro and Rio Solimões; rainforest hikes; visits to a monkey sanctuary; piranha fishing; and nighttime animal spotting. During a moonlight cruise, our guide suddenly sprang from the boat onto the shore and caught a small caiman that he showed us and later released. I marveled how he found saw glint in the creature’s eyes in near darkness.

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Before and after a long day of touring, we retreated to the dining hall for dinner or to the lounge for drinks. I still remember the caipirinhas I enjoyed on the veranda overlooking the cove as my wife sipped on margaritas and tropical juices. My son enjoyed the juices but liked playing with the tiny cocktail parasols even more.

Local residents occasionally popped by for a visit. A large lizard searching for dinner crossed our path. We steered clear of a parrot and macaw that hung around the bar. While they were the inspirations for the characters Polly and Molly in Alexander the Salamander, these one were quite aggressive. Molly the Macaw was downright ornery, shooing away visitors wherever she landed.

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The Amazon Ecopark Jungle Lodge is just one of many resorts along the Amazon’s many tributaries. Other resorts offer similar amenities. We enjoyed its ambiance, activities, price, and close proximity to Manaus. We were grateful that was located on the mosquito-free Rio Negro, where the high acidity from decaying vegetation and low oxygen content prevents mosquitos from breeding. Although we contended with our fair share of spiders, ants and other jungle critters, the bloodsuckers left us alone.

Map picture

 

More About the Amazon

Click here to read about Manaus.

Click here to read about piranhas.

Click here to read about the Amazon River.

Click here to watch the Amazon Eco-Park’s promotional video.

 

About Alexander the Salamander

clip_image002A young salamander named Alexander living in the Amazon River Basin joins his friends Airey the Butterfly and Terry the Tarantula for an unforgettable jungle adventure. Come along with Alexander and friends as they meet birds, monkeys, and other creatures, enjoy the beauty of the rainforest, and face danger along the way.

The first book in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, Alexander the Salamander is an illustrated story inspired by the authors’ visit to the Amazon in 2008. Fun for kids and adults alike, the story teaches children the importance of listening to teachers and other authority figures.

 

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories and Alexander the Salamander, a children’s story set in the Amazon. His books are available to purchase as an e-book and in print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.