Backpacking Amazon Crossing
Amazon Crossing, South America By Bus
Backpacking Eight Months On the Road
By David Rice  
    Amazon Crossing, Macapa, Brazil
The boat did return to my relief and just before sundown we were underway aboard the double-decked wooden passenger ferry that would take 38 hours to cross the Amazon Estuary.      
They would serve us dinner and breakfast as part of the ticket price but our sleeping arrangement would be to sling our hammocks on deck were ever we could. This was no luxury cruise.

In the alizarin blaze of an Amazon sunset we lugged through the maze of river channels, passing other boats coming and going in every direction. Boats of all description scooted out from adjoining streams and darted off towards all points with sparkles of water trailing off their wake in the sunset.

After a dinner of rice and beans everybody hung their hammocks and before long there were hammocks wall to wall bow to stern port to lee; the entire deck was a sea of hammocks.
Seeing no room to string a hammock comfortably, I unfolded my sleeping pad and laid it on the deck.
Amazon Crossing, Macapa, South America
Backpacking By Bus, Eight Months On the Road
By David Rice  
10 dead, 9 missing in Brazil shipwreck
Thu Feb 21, 3:07 PM ET
SAO PAULO, Brazil - A ferryboat carrying more than 100 passengers collided with a barge loaded with fuel tanks and sank to the bottom of the Amazon River on Thursday, officials said. At least 10 people died, and another nine were missing and feared dead.


The Almirante Monteiro capsized at dawn near the isolated Brazilian town of Itacoatiara in the jungle state of Amazonas, state fire spokesman Lt. Clovis Araujo said.
He said 92 people were rescued by several small boats and the state's floating police station, a 32-foot vessel that travels up and down the river and was in the area at the time of the shipwreck.
Rescue teams recovered the bodies of four children, five women and one man, Araujo said, and a check of the boat's passenger manifest indicated nine people were still missing.
"The chances of finding them alive are remote," he said. "We will keep searching until the last body is found.
He said he did not know how many people were on the barge, but "no one was hurt and the barge was not damaged."
Many of the missing were likely passengers who were asleep in cabins inside the two-story wooden vessel and were unable to get out before the boat sank, state public safety department spokesman Aguinaldo Rodrigues said.
"As far as we can tell, just about all the survivors were passengers sleeping in hammocks on the deck," Rodrigues said.
Rodrigues said it was too early to determine the causes of the accident, but "visibility was very poor" at the time of the collision during the lunar eclipse that began Wednesday night.
The survivors were taken to the small town of Novo Remanso and sheltered in the local church. They were to be taken by helicopter to the state capital of Manaus.
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Amazon Crossing Backpacking
I crossed the Amazon at Macapa, South America on my eight month backpacking trip by bus through Central and South America.
      Long Night
I slept fitfully that night as we passed camps and settlements on shore illuminated by their fires. A low chugging sound would announce another boat passing unseen in the dark Amazon night where the jungle seemed to gobble all the light.
A voice would reach out from an unseen shore and the smell of cigarettes or garlic, or fetid diesel would be the only hint that other life was moving on the river in the black night.  

Sunrise sent a rim of gold over the forest of the Amazon Estuary and then the light revealed a green jungle in every direction and a hundred islands in our path. We would slow and nose into a bank and the crew would extend a plank for new passengers to climb aboard.  
Underway in minutes with new anonymous souls aboard, we would weave in and out of islands, passing villages and lumber mills by the hundreds. At lest every five miles on the banks there were workers cutting the jungle into boards six feet long and eight inches wide, rough cut and stacked in huge piles.  
    Amazon Lumber Camps
They were denuding the most diverse eco system in the world and I knew now why the delta water had looked so brown from the air.  They were stripping the forest clean of trees and allowing unchecked runoff that would eventually move large parts of Brazil down the river and into the Atlantic Ocean.
Half way across the estuary we stopped in a town for more passengers. With the hammocks taken up in the morning, we had room for more, so the captain took every advantage to increase the tally. After two days and one fitful night for me, we docked with a loaded boat in Belem, Brazil.

I jumped off the boat, happy to be ashore in Brazil. I ran into the street looking for local bus that would take me downtown. After looking at the map I realized that the center was only two miles away so I walked to my hotel, the Forteleza, in the middle of the old section of town,

Built by the harvesting of rubber, a sustainable resource, Belem was now a port important to the stripping of the forest,  a resource that would never renew.  Belem might someday be gone when the forest goes but for now, Belem revealed itself as a people-friendly place where I could slow down and rest.
10 dead, 9 missing in Brazil shipwreck
Thu Feb 21, 3:07 PM ET
SAO PAULO, Brazil - A ferryboat carrying more than 100 passengers collided with a barge loaded with fuel tanks and sank to the bottom of the Amazon River on Thursday, officials said. At least 10 people died, and another nine were missing and feared dead.

This I read a year after my crossing
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