Pit stop in Moura

As expected, at 3 p.m. we arrive in Moura, a small village on the left bank of the rio Negro.
The wooden quay is full of people waiting for someone who is arriving,  for a package or just looking. It reminds me of the arrival of the occasional boat in small islands in southern Italy, the arrival of the boat is a happening for itself and awaiting it is a kind of ritual for the islanders.
We say good-bye and good-luck to our travel mates, untie our hammocks and step on land, after 21 hours of navigation.
On the quay there is hectic traffic of persons and goods. Small children and an occasional dog run between the disembarking passengers. The big man with the list overlooks the merchandise and checks on his list if the right things are being taken.
Castelo and Chico unload tons of supplies with the help of a third man. I try to help out with the smaller boxes and the eggs - I had noticed a high pile of egg cartons on the recreio, part of them were ours. They must be boiled by the sun...
Moura is a small river community, about 1.000 inhabitants, accessible only by boat. Surprised I notice there are some motorbikes, pick-ups and cars between the houses.
After having saved my bag from a peeing dog, we put our luggage on the voadeira (speedboat), anchored at the quay, that will take us to Xixuau.
On the far end of the small quay Castelo and Chico are loading the supplies on a small wooden canoe with a rabeta motor. Five or six gas cylinders, a rabeta motor, pasta, rice, sugar, canned food and a lot of other eatables are piled without mercy in the small canoe. In the meanwhile new passengers board the recreio. An old man loads a brilliant red motorbike with the help of other passengers on the lower deck of the recreio, laughing his head off, his mouth full of golden teeth. After some time the recreio leaves and the people on the quay disperse. Everything is quiet again.
I look at our two boats and wonder why they are putting everything on the tiny canoe, while our bigger speedboat is almost empty. The sides of the canoe are almost underwater... After some confabulation between our men we decide to move some gas cylinders, the eggs and other stuff to the speedboat. A big empty styrofoam case occupies a lot of space at the bow already and our bags are all in the back, near the motor, together with three 25 lt gallons of fuel.
Camilo and Stefan have some cases with research equipment too, a green metal case with electronic stuff, piles of newspapers and some bags. Luckily the Danes and I only have reasonably light backpacks.
Stefan calls for the last beer at the small shop near the harbour. The quay is connected to land by a tight wooden board, it's high water season. I cross it not without apprehension in the middle of a group of screaming small boys...who had been running back and forth while observing our labor. Once again I damn myself for having bought a pair of binoculars instead of glasses before leaving for Brazil...
The shop owner has no beer, Camilo, Stefan and I stick to ice-cream, very tasty fruit picolés, perfect to cool off after the fatigue under the burning sun. The shop has mixed goods, not a lot of things. Batteries, some cookies, some detergents, a little bit of all. Outside  a row of children play in the shadow of a house. I try to get a picture of them, but Ebbe is always in the way...he doesn't seem to notice. I try to bribe him in offering an ice-cream, no way.

After seeing Chico and Castelo wandering off discretely in the grasses behind the house that overlooks the quay I take advantage of the last pee-stop too. We have at least 5 hours of non stop boat ride in front of us, according to what they say.
We climb on the boat, Castelo at the drivers seat, Chico and the Danes in the back and me and the botanists in front.
We follow in the path of the small wooden canoe. With two men and all the stuff on it barely surfaces the water. It's about 4 p.m., the canoe will stop overnight in Moura and continue the ride to Xixuau tomorrow. It is obviously slower than the speedboat and heavy as it it would never arrive in Xixuau before darkness.
Luckily we have taken the eggs with us... 
The afternoon light paints everything in iridescent golden shades. The cloudy sky seems huge in its overwhelming beauty. 
We still have a task to fulfill, buying ice for the big styrofoam case. Ice is a precious good in remote areas, I know that from Pantanal, in a country were iced drinks are a must.
The two boats  pass between partially submerged trees and stop by a some wooden houses. Castelo wades through the water to one of these looking for someone. 

Two  girls wade in the knee-high water from one stilted house to the other, holding up their stuff. 
Not far away we stop at the 'fabrica de gelo', ice-factory, a floating construction with a big rusty ice-machine, where we fill up the styrofoam case. 
Then we leave Moura behind and cross the rio Negro which is very wide at this point to enter the rio Jauaperi.
Our speedboat has a roof, which is a blessing against the hot sun and possible rainfall, but kind of covers the view. The vegetation on the riverbanks is gorgeous; the water is 10-12 meters over normal river level and only the higher part of the trees emerge. They still seem very tall.
A light rain falls from time to time but nobody seems to bother, as things get wet they also dry again under the hot sun. 
As before on the recreio, the noise of the motor covers up nature's sounds and we see from time to time birds fly up at our passage, in a mute cry. 
The river gets tighter in some parts and opens up into lagoons in others while the sun is rapidly setting down on the horizon. 
At a point I realize that I feel like we are floating high up in the sky - pure magic. 
In the dusky light we pass by some scattered little communities, a few wooden huts, a school and a church in one of them. Castelo shouts their name  at me, but his words are drowned by the motor.
Our conversation continues by gestures, they show us some birds and I try to read the names from their lips without much success. They expect me to translate to Mike and Ebbe, no way, I limit to point at the birds and smile aware that Mike is much more prepared about birds than me anyway.
A gorgeous sunset on our left side saves me from my interpreters task - we are all raptured by it.
As always in the tropics the sun disappears rapidly and then it's all darkness, only the glow of the white styrofoam case at the bow of our boat shines over the dark waters. The contours of the riverbanks flow into the black water, but Castelo doesn't seem to be bothered by the lack of visibility.
After some hours we stop under a sky full of stars and warmth envelopes us for a moment. We have to fuel up the tank.
Swallows flow around our boat and finally we hear their screams too. 
Around 8 p.m we see small lights dancing on a riverbank, Xixuau. The lights are headlamps of some of the people waiting for us. I step down on the muddy soil with my bags where I'm greeted by Chris Clark and his two daughters, Cathleen and Nicole, two blond fairies here in the middle of the Amazon...Other members of the community quickly unload the voadeira, Castelo and Chico have already disappeared into the darkness.
Scattered light bulbs hanging on the trees reveal the malocas nearby. Chris shows us the one we will be staying in, me and the Danes - me in one room and them in the other one. A wooden bridge leads to two bathrooms, one for each.
At dinner we'll find out that Mike and Ebbe didn't even know each other before the trip, but the stigma of being a couple glued throughout the trip and they were left in the same room...
The maloca is a wooden stilted hut, with a tile roof, simple and neat. My room has two open windows with wooden shutters, one looks out on the small veranda, the other to the forest. There are two beds in it and some nails I use to hang my stuff. An electric bulb illuminates the room. 
Chris tells me they are not completely ready and in the morning I'll see that there are a few others still being built nearby.
I go for a quick shower, but my bathroom has apparently no water and I end up sharing with the Danes.
After shower I take my torch and walk up to the only house were there is light, the kitchen. The soil is very muddy and slippery. A row of mud-encrusted sandals lies at the foot of the stair steps that lead up to the stilted kitchen veranda and there is a cloth to clean your feet.
Chris, Cathleen and some members of the community are waiting for us. From the tired looks on the cooks face I realize it is very late for them and go to call Mike and Ebbe for dinner. 
We eat in the big maloca beside the kitchen, delicious roasted piranha, rice, some vegetables. 
After dinner I fall into a deep sleep, lulled by the cries of the howler monkeys.

A day on the riverboat

I wake up with the first lights of dawn in a different world. The whitish cloudy sky reveals dark green dense forest on the riverbanks, no sign of human settlement.  Only a more careful look reveals once in a while a small isolated wooden hut on stilts. I can't help but thinking of how on earth the people that live there have chosen that particular spot of forest to live...which criteria made them settle down exactly there and not elsewhere.

People on the boat slowly climb out of their hammocks and there is already an neat line in front of the toilets. Some women have wet hair, I wonder which of the toilets are equipped with a shower. I haven't seen one the night before. So I stand in the line in front of the one I haven't used, just to find out that all are equipped with showers, on the roof...

The recreio glides slowly over the brown water. It seems clean here, without the greasy touch of the port of Manaus. On one wall of the boat a hand-painted sign asks the passengers to respect nature and not to throw waste in the water. Sadly I notice that the upper deck is covered with empty beer cans and plastic glasses from the night before, being thrown overboard by the strong wind. I pick up some while waiting for breakfast, conscious that it probably won't make a big difference but anyway...
The recreio navigates alternatively near one or the other riverbank, according to water depth. The thick forest canopy is fascinating, sadly the noise of our engine covers up every possible sound, I feel like watching a mute film sitting on a hell machine...couples of aras and parrots fly over our heads their cries covered by the noise.
We pass through the indigenous territory of the Waimiri-Atraoari, big wooden signs on the riverbanks and on apparently abandoned stilted wooden houses advice that it is forbidden to stop, film and photograph. The recreios are only allowed to pass through the area. People on the boat look at the signs with a mix of apprehension and curiosity, one man says that maybe the Indios are there inside the closed hut vigilating us...
After a while the rio Negro broadens up into a big lagoon.

The loud bell calling for breakfast gets even the late sleepers out of their hammocks, just the time to eat, then many doze away again.
Hot coffee, milk, tapioca pancakes, cake, bread, ham and cheese, plenty of it, and free coffee available all morning until lunch.
I spend the rest of the morning watching the forest and chatting with some hammock neighbors. Chico and Castelo show up once in a while to exchange a few words. 
People on the boat have predominantly indigenous features. The boys have tattooed arms and backs and wear sleeveless shirts, long baggy bermudas, rapperstyle big silver and gold chains. When my eyes cross the gaze of these urban jungle warriors their faces open up in broad smiles.

When the sun finally lures out of the clouds it gets really hot all of a sudden. I take advantage of the heat to dry my stuff that's still wet from the rain in Manaus (not imagining that this will be one of my hopeless main activities during the whole trip).
Once in a while a tiny canoe with a rudimentary motor (later I'll learn they are called 'rabeta') resembling a lot the 'naked' fridge motors we used to build compressors for airbrushes in my youth, approaches our boat. Just the time to take on a lonely passenger and some luggage, before getting swallowed up by the forest again.
With daylight some passengers become more sociable and soon I'm involved in animated conversations. 
They ask me where we are going, but don't seem to be familiar with Xixuau. 
The recreio runs the line Manaus-Barcelos, which is the biggest municipality of the Amazon State on the right border of the rio Negro, about 12 hours of navigation farther than Moura and almost 500 km from Manaus (by river). A lot of the people on board do regularly these trips. Inhabitants of small communities without infrastructure go to sell their merchandise at the markets in Manaus and travel back with supplies. Banks, hospitals, public offices etc., everything that has to do with the relationship individual-state has to be performed in Manaus. 

A very animated group, one of them is Castelo, talks about a pirate attack that happened just the week before to one of these recreios. Everybody has some detail to add to the gruesome story, as a lot of them were effectively victims of the attack. While attacks like this are not uncommon in other parts of Brazil, it was one of the first times something like this happened on this line and probably talking about it was useful to exorcise the fear. No way to avoid traveling on the recreios for these people, and if they need to take money or other valuables to Manaus it has to be this way.
The attack had been perpetrated on the way Barcelos-Manaus. The pirates had been traveling camouflaged as passengers, scattered over the three decks of the riverboat. 4 or 5 hours before Manaus they had taken out their guns announcing the raid. Passengers and crew were forced out of their clothes and, men and women alike, in underwear closed up in the machine room. Some members of the crew were shot in the legs and other men beaten up badly without reason, as nobody had tried to react. It had been an unreasonably violent attack. Wallets, cameras and jewels for a value of about 3.000 reais were stolen, not really a lot for the risk involved. 
But they certainly scared the shit out of the river people, more than of the few tourists that were aboard.
I spend the rest of the morning with the botanists, exchanging technical information about cameras, lenses, Gps. They show me the maps their tutor has given them of the buritizal area. Nobody seems to know how far it is in km from Xixuau community. It looks very vast on the map, starting from below the Ecuador line and expanding far to the north.

In the open part of our deck loud popular music together with the motor's noise makes talking almost impossible. Some of the male passengers hang around, already heavy on beer in the morning. The 'bar' consists in a big cooling trunk with ice and some plastic bags with bread, ham and cheese hanging on a wall. A member of the crew, a guy with indio features in his thirties with incredible light blue almost transparent eyes and small chubby hands supplies the passengers with canned beer, soft drinks and sandwiches.
photo M. Falkendorf
After a generous lunch we still have three hours to our first destination. I spend some time playing with my little hammock neighbor, his sister and their very young mom. They fell victims of a scam at Manaus port. The mother had tried to buy a wristwatch from one of the numerous chinese peddlers, and he had fled with all her money, 20 reais. Once in a while one of the other passengers buys sweets and soft drinks for her children. A kind of comradeship between strangers reigns on the boat during navigation. As a man from Parintins tells me: the enemy lures only in the ports. After some attempts to understand the cute little boy's name I give up. He is very interested in my camera and I try to teach him to take pictures, with little success...but a lot of fun. When I take out my binoculars he get's crazy about the big big world inside.

From Manaus to Xixuaú

6 p.m in Rio, 15° C and a light rain. I'm rushing to Santos Dumont airport with my luggage carefully distributed over three light bags. Traveling only with hand luggage has become almost an obsession and this time more than ever. Having decided not to stay overnight in Manaus but arriving the same day of our boats departure I cannot risk to loose my stuff.

With my friendliest smile I walk up to the TAM-counter and show my light blue bag with some clothes in it to the lady, 4 kg, no problem the limit for hand-luggage is 5, I can take it. She hasn't noticed that all the heavy things are tightly packed in a small black bag hidden on my back...
Touché, I walk away and pack everything together again. 
The plane is bustling with business-men and women, laptops, I-pads,I-phones, Blackberries. All kind of electronic utilities and un-utilities fill the air of the small plane with artificial sounds. I rejoice on the idea that soon I'll be leaving all this behind.
Stop-over in Brasilia, a chaotic lounge and our flight to Manaus is obviously late. I try to kill time reading and observing my fellow travel partners. It's always fascinating to jump from one airport to the other inside this huge country (I really don't enjoy airports and planes and their aseptical and anonymous atmosphere, I'd rather travel for hours by boat, train or bus, but often for timing reasons I cannot do without - this 1 1/2 months in Brazil will cost me about 10 flights, enough for an overdose).  You get a real feeling of the incredible melting-pot of races of this country. And in the last years, with Brazil's booming economy and growing concurrence between several air-carriers, air-travel isn't a privilege of the wealthy anymore, airports overflow with people of all classes, origins and races. I remember last year's flight from Cuiabà to Sao Paulo, in the company of a barefooted Indian couple with their small baby. They had no luggage at all, it was as if they were taking a bus for a short ride...

Finally our plane leaves Brasilia, I try to get a glimpse of it's particular architecture out of the window without success. The one hour delay won't be a problem, I had a gap of about three hours between my arrival time in Manaus and the meeting with my guide, Plinio.
The arrival in Manaus by plane is as spectacular as I remember from my last visit 20 years ago. I regret not having chosen a window seat...the lush green of the forest, the enormous rivers that bend in infinite curves and... suddenly there is the city, right in the middle of 'nowhere'.
After the hours spent in air-conditioned environments I gratefully step out of the airport into the humid, thick and warm air of Manaus. It's cloudy and starting to rain.
I stroll towards what looks like a bus stop, where a numerous group of persons stand closely pressed together under a pensiline trying to protect themselves from the rain.
From time to time a bus stops, but none goes to the 'centro'. After a while the bus finally arrives, not only mine...I manage to squeeze myself in a seat at the side of an enormously fat woman, holding my breath. I have no idea about the length of the trip to the center of Manaus. And it rains, I see the outskirts of Manaus through a wall of water. After about half an hour we seem to have passed the outskirts and I ask for information. Just in time, I have to get out at the next stop, in a trafficked road bustling with street vendors.
And now it really starts to rain, tropical rain, as you read in the books...after two minutes I'm soaked from head to toe. I know I'm near to Hotel Dez de Julho where I'm supposed to meet Plinio, but the water has flooded the streets, ankle-high. I give up trying to protect me under some tree or doorway, get off my shoes and continue barefoot until I reach the hotel. It's still early and I try to get my wet stuff off on the doorsteps of the hotel, I don't know why on earth I didn't enter...
Two foreign looking chaps step out of the hotel, look at me and one says: You must be the Italian lady that is coming with us to Xixuau! Well...not very ladylike at the moment but yes, that's me. Michael and Ebbe from Denmark, my travel mates. In reality I had understood it would be a bigger group going, but apparently it is only us.
They had made their travel arrangements with Erik, the head of the Danish section of Amazonia Association. First argument is the trip to the Buritizal, they ask if I'm coming too. I explain that I haven't decided yet, as it's my first time at Xixuau I would enjoy to get to know more of the community and going on the trip would mean staying only a few days there.
They need to buy hammocks and mosquito nets, but having traveled for the last 30 hours they are quite dazed and tired. I offer to accompany them after having asked Djalma, the guy from the reception, about news from our guide. Apparently we have plenty of time, to buy hammocks, to have lunch and so on. After a quick lunch at a kilo restaurant around the corner with Djalma we are off to buy the missing stuff.
The road Djalma has indicated to me is full of 'camelos' (street-vendors) displaying their colorful merchandise on improvised stalls. Thousands of pirate cds and dvds, the music screaming out of improbable loudspeakers is overwhelming. It's difficult to imagine that only a few km away there's only forest...
When we come back to the Hotel a guy arrives with a pick-up, it's not Plinio but anyway..his name is Dejacy (I'll find out on the return trip). It seems quite a drive to the small Sao Raimundo harbor where the slow boats that travel up and down the rio Negro depart. I have faint memories about a smaller city from my last stay in Manaus about 20 years ago, a lot of things have changed. We cross a bridge to the colorful and grubby port area at around 4 p.m..

A small street takes to the quay, it's crowded with cars, pick-ups, street vendors, carriers with all kind of stuff on their backs. Numerous black vultures observe the human mess from the roofs of the surrounding houses. 
Dejacy stops the pick-up in the middle of the street, it's obvious that we'll never get through and tells us to get out of the car.
A slender young man with grey hair takes my bag saying "I'm Castelo, you're with me" and rushes off towards one of the big river boats at the quay. The Danes hold on to their luggage, confused by the hectic rush around them. Baffled Mike asks me " Do you know him??" Well..no, but he must be a guy from Xixuau, I answer confidently.
I'm not sure at all, but I try to hide my doubts, no need to make them worry. In fact we had all understood we would be traveling on the Certeza, the Reserve's riverboat, and there was no sign of it there. The boat we are boarding is evidently one of the normal wooden riverboats, already crowded with passengers and goods. There are several of them anchored at the small quay, with names as Tanaka, Vencedor.
They are two or three floored. The base floor is used for goods transportation. At a wooden table a huge bare-chested man keeps track of all the uploaded stuff on a handwritten copybook. The second floor is the area dedicated to passengers, where people hang their hammocks around big amounts of luggage stapled in the center of the deck. It's already crowded with women and children mostly, all lying in their hammocks. There are some cabins too, air-conditioned and without windows.
Castelo leads us to the second floor of the boat and manages to find a place to hang our hammocks at one extremity of the boat. We are the only foreigners on board and the last passengers to arrive apparently. While looking for a place to hang the hammocks he asks me if I'm married (well, I'm used to being asked this question when I travel alone...but not as quick!! Later we'll find out that Castelo had been told that he had to look for a couple and a solo traveler, he was just trying to find out who was the couple... After my negative answer he assumed that the two Danes were the couple and they were treated as such for a good part of the trip).
I'm very happy about my hammock place under 'plein air'...I'd have serious claustrophobia problems sleeping in the small cabins.
I try to 'sell' the advantage of sleeping promiscuously beneath the stars to the Danes, who had understood they would have slept in a private cabin and were not so happy about our logistics. I show them the cell-like cabins, Mike smiles, Ebbe retires to his hammock, not convinced by my explanation.
A not very tall man with an orange cap and a red shirt walks towards us, Francisco, Chico. He says he will be traveling with us too.
Here I am with two guides, two baffled Danes and still some good natured doubts about our destination...
I talk a bit with Chico, who seems quite happy that I speak portuguese, and when he mentions Chiara I finally know we are with the right people.
Suddenly I get a glimpse of a man winking like crazy in my direction from the boat anchored at our side. I don't hear his voice in the mess but on his lips I read the word 'Plinio'. There he is, our man!! After a vigorous handshake we engage a lively conversation. He too asks me about the buritizal and slowly I realize the place has a kind of mythical aura for the locals. He tells me that Chico is the pajè (traditional doctor) of the community and that he will be the leading guide for the buritizal trip, being one of the most experienced guys around. Just the hint of a smile runs over Chico's face. He doesn't live at the Reserve anymore and has been called for this special occasion.
Plinio says he will be coming up to Xixuau on friday together with a Swiss couple. He too is eager to come on the buritizal expedition and laughing he says that something will happen that will force us to postpone departure! They explain that we'll arrive next day in mid-afternoon in Moura, a small village on the rio Negro and from there we will take a voadeira to the Reserve. At night if everything runs smooth we'll be arriving. I walk over to Mike and Ebbe's hammocks and explain our route. They are already half asleep...only worried about safety issues for their luggage on board. I give them the common advice to look after it, especially while we are still at the port. Another passenger I happen to talk to during our trip will confirm my supposition, take care while on land and relax during navigation. Plinio says good-bye, Chico and Castelo rush off the boat to get 'a motor' (later I'll understand it's THE motor that will accompany us to buritizal).
At 6.30 p.m. the boat leaves Manaus, almost punctual. Castelo comes over with two young guys: they are the botanists from INPA, Camilo and Stefan, who are going to collect plant specimen during the expedition. We share a beer they had bought at a stall at the port and chat a little bit. They explain that on the boat there will be dinner, breakfast and lunch, included in the price. That's good news, I was just wondering between myself how I'd cope with 30 hrs on the river without any food, because I hadn't brought anything with me.
Darkness descends rapidly as usual in the tropics, while we leave the glittering Manaus behind. The boat glides gently over the ocean-like broad river, but the motor's noise is quite loud.
We wait for dinner at the other end of the upper deck.  On the open area most of the male passengers of the boat have crowded around a tv set and to my surprise they are all watching 'novela' (brazilian soap-operas) with great interest...while the women sleep. All riverboats are equipped with a big satellite antenna to entertain passengers during the long trips.
The slow riverboats, called 'recreio' run twice a week up and down river and are the only mean of transportation for the small communities along the river.

The rio Negro is one of the largest Amazon tributaries and the largest blackwater river in the world. It originates in the Colombian Andes and forms together with the rio Solimoes the Amazon river right beneath Manaus. It is navigable for 700 km. While the name Rio Negro means Black River, its waters aren't exactly black; they are similar in color to strong tea. The reason for this particular coloration lies in the slow speed of it's flow. Flowing through forested swamps and wetlands, vegetation decays in the water, tannins are leached out, resulting in transparent, acid water that is darkly stained, resembling tea or coffee.

Aside the bright lights of our boat, it's all dark around us. I cannot see the riverbanks, only imagine that it's all forest. A bell calls for dinner and Castelo asks me to call Mike and Ebbe. They are deep asleep and I decide to let them rest. Chico had told me there would be only a soup for dinner; it is a rich soup, with meat, pasta and vegetables. Women and children reemerge from their hammocks, nobody wants to miss the free food.
After dinner everything gets quiet, a strong cold wind hits the boat and I think gratefully about Chiara's advice to bring a heavy cotton hammock and a blanket to cover up.

2011 Trip, Southern Pantanal and Xixuaú-Xiparinã Reserve

This year I had planned to visit the Amazon and after a long time of patient research I had found a place that seemed to live up to my expectations. I had heard and read a lot about all kind of tours offered in this huge area, but none that had really captured my interest.
I stepped casually on the website of an Italian NGO, Associaçao Amazonia, that together with a local community, Cooperativa Xixuau-Xiparina, offered an interesting stay in the remote region of Southern Roraima. at the Xixuau-Xiparina Reserve. 
The 30 or more hours boatride from Manaus to get there and the intentions of the project caught my interest; reading along travel forums I found lots of praises about them.
I got the contact of Chiara Tosi, an italian biologist as referent for the Reserve and after some reciprocal information exchange over some months she finally wrote me that on the 28th of July there would be a boat going to the reserve, carrying a mixed group of British and Brazilian botanics, from the University of Kent and INPA. 
There are no regular boat rides to the reserve, the community owns a big riverboat, but of course it runs only if a number of participants is reached. Going alone would have had prohibitive costs for me. Great, the botanics would be staying a few nights at the reserve and then travel further north to a 'buritizal' to make their field reserach, so I would be almost alone at the community and have plenty of opportunities to get to know better their projects and the natural surroundings.
While searching for a flight to Brasil on the web, a thought crossed my mind: I was going to Brasil without going to the Pantanal which had been my best destination for the last two years? In reality I was supposed to go there in June with two Italian friends, but our dates hadn't fit in with the guides schedule so we had postponed it to another time. Grumbling around I wrote for the thousandst time to Lucas and Marina from Fazenda Barranco Alto, I had been trying to go there for some time but they had been always booked out in the past. And wonder, they had a week available from the 10th of June! I only had to figure out how to organize my multiple jobs in Italy, I would be staying abroad 1 and 1/2 months...

to be continued..

My intinerary:

Southern Pantanal 11th to 18th June (Fazenda Barranco Alto, 120 Km northwest of Aquidauana, Mato Grosso do Sul, at the Rio Negro boundary, Pantanal da Nhecolândia)

Northern Pantanal 19th to 27th June (Pantanal de Poconé)

Amazon 28th June to 10th July (Southern Roraima, Xixau Xiparina Reserve, 500 km NW of Manaus (30 boat hours) on the Rio Jauaperí, tributary of Rio Negro)

Xixuau-Xiparina Reserve
Map of communities