My Amazon cruise continued

March 20th, 2015….. still in the Amazon but heading to the Atlantic…. a sea day. 

Some facts:

The rainforest covers an area that includes parts of Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana. 

The Amazon is second largest river in the world…. 6400 kms. or 4000 mi.   It is so very wide especially now that it is flooding. 

There are over 1100 tributaries of which 17 are over 1500 kms long. (I am sure the captain must be using a gps to make sure we are on the right “road”).

The Amazon is the home to the piranha ….  a deadly meat eating fish but according to one guide, they are not much interested  in humans for food.   They are not large but have nasty teeth and when they attack, it is a feeding frenzy. (I wanted to bring a preserved one home but didn’t know if we can bring things like that into Canada).

Anacondas lurk in the shallow waters of the rivers. I never saw one…. a bit disappointed in that. 

They also have boas in the jungle. Boas are constrictors but our guide told us they are poisonous for one month out of the year…. this month. Right….. nice!

The Amazon River’s source is Lago Villafro in the Andes Mts. of Peru. 

By the way the temperature usually is 28 to 31 C every day with the water being exactly the same temp  as the air.  So if you fell in the river or ocean you wouldn’t die from

hypothermia….. lol!  Something else would surely get you tho’.   The depth of the river at the mouth is at most 30 meters so you can understand why only the smaller ships like ours can go up it. 

Today once reaching the Atlantic again, the waters are rough. You should have seen us trying to line dance with the ship rocking and rolling. Also today, the ship had a Gala Tea with ice sculptures and elaborate carvings made from things like squashes and watermelon. Absolutely amazing!  And the little fancy sandwiches and desserts. Oh my!  Everyday there is high tea with fancy foods but today was extra special. Then it was off to happy hour. This was the first day with no 25% Brazilian tax so I splurged and bought a drink in one of the bars…… as did a whole lot of other people on board. Most of us have bought wine and other spirits on shore and brought on board. It’s allowed on Oceania. 

March 21st….Devils Island. Actually there are 3 islands of which the largest and where most prisoners were “housed” is Isle Royale and not Isle Diable. Together they are called the Salvation Islands….funny name for this absolutely beautiful trio of islands with such a terrible history. Here are some facts as told to me. There were over the course of time in that penitentiary, 70,000 prisoners with 50,000 escape attempts made. 50% of prisoners died within the  first year of arriving here from the heat, humidity, dysentery, cholera, malaria, etc…. never mind the very harsh treatment they had to endure. BTW the humidity was almost 100% so along with mid 80 F made the perspiration, literally constantly run down my face and into my eyes. 

March 22….at sea. 

March 23….Barbados is quite a beautiful island they drive on the “wrong” side of the road…… with many, many round-a-bouts. The land on the east side of the island which is on the Atlantic, is unstable and is prone to slides so they are not allowed to build on it. We were 7 in a taxi van today. Our first stop was to see the Harrison’s Caves. Beautiful!  I can’t remember all the fact but is something that I would recommend to see if you are ever here. I have many pictures. Then to Hunt’s Gardens. Oh wow!  If you know me you know how much I love gardens and plants.   It was absolutely fabulous. They had 7 acres but only 2 that were developed. It is so lush. It is amazing that it took only 2 years to grow like this. I took so many pictures of both these places. While there, I got to see a hummingbird nest with a couple of babies in it and a few flying around that were a shiny black with I am sure other fluorescent colours on them if they stayed in one place long enough to see.  The owner and developer was an old “white” man, whose ancestors had been indentured servants. We saw the only operational sugar wind mill circa 1727. Gorgeous!  Off to the beach (Atlantic side) beautiful and rugged. Funny the beach were covered with seaweed which we had seen lots of it floating out in the ocean. Our driver said that it more this year than they had ever seen. I wonder what is going on there. Global change maybe???  Off to a spot that overlooks the whole coastline.  Wow!  Then to a sugar plantation. Again…… Beautiful ……and old. They are in the production of rum….. very expensive rum but oh so very good!  Trust me. Then it was back towards the pier where some of the gals wanted to purchase chocolate from a factory. The owner, get this, is a young Barbadian Canadian born in Montreal. A drive and short stop to the waterfront/downtown area of Bridgetown. There a couple of bridges over what I think is salt water, a beautiful boardwalk. Yachts tied up all along this boardwalk. Lovely!  Some girls said they would have to come back here again. Some interesting facts and curious things as told to us by our driver. The 

Mangania tree is poisonous. No birds or animals go near them. There are lots of Mahogany trees.  65% of food needed here is grown here. I’m surprised. The bearded (vines) Ficus is where the name of Barbados comes from.  Saturday knockers are what Barbadians call Jehovah’s Witnesses. and the Parliament buildings is called the snake house.

March 24…. St. Bart’s. Oh wow!  Tres riche!!!!  The yachts in the harbour, the quaint, well-cared for buildings, the French influence, the Euro…. Oh my!  We all went a spectacular little beach appropriately called Shell Beach cuz it is just waaaay too expensive to shop. An absolutely gorgeous place though.  

Next stop, March 25… San Juan Puerto Rico. This is one place that was never really on my bucket list but I have to tell you I would love to come back here again. The gals I was with today and myself, just stayed in the “Old Town”section…. So did not get to see the rest of the island and what it had to offer. Climbing up to one of the two forts. The streets are extremely narrow, one way with parking on one side. There were traffic police on pretty much every corner…. Of course there were 6 cruise ships in port today. That could explain why traffic was so congested. The building reminded me of the old quarter in New Orleans with the wrought iron balconies (some Juliet’s), the street paved with brick shaped rock that looked like basalt. The prices here are really quite reasonable and they have some really nice merchandise. Back to the ships in port… One was an MSC with 4200+ passengers and only a crew of 1500. We have 650+ passengers and a crew of 400. Which do you think has the best service? There was also the Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam that was quite likely bigger than the MSC, a Disney ship

and another Oceania…. The Riviera at twice the capacity as this ship but their staterooms are much bigger and almost all are balcony suites. 

March 26….. At sea. 

March 27… The cruise is drawing to an end. The ports of call have been awesome.  It has been an enlightening experience that I have totally enjoyed. I will miss the crew.. they have been fabulous….. many calling me by name.  The entertainment even though it has to be a smaller production because of the ship’s size, has been first class. The ship itself is really quite lovely. The captain is a hoot…. very personable with a great sense of humour….approachable……gave us gals a tour of the bridge when we were in San Juan. Most of all, I will miss travelling with the gals. It has been like a bunch going for a “girls’ weekend” ……only longer.  Most of us did not know each other before but I am sure that many of us will remain friends at home. 

Today will be Nassau. We will not arrive for a few more hours but I am going to try to send this now and send another in a couple of days. 

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