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.

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