Life on the river


Imagine this; You get into a plane in Miami, alone, fly to Manaus in the middle of the Amazone jungle, enter a small open boat with three complete strangers, with a quest to go up river into the wilderness for a week, and you do not know the language. I know this is not for everyone, but if you want to experience the true Amazone you should order something like this. The experience is wild in every way right from the start. Ten minutes after you leave the docks in Manaus you loose telephone signal and the adventure may begin.


It is a strange experience getting to know these people. We don’t speak the same language but we get along with a little common English, hand signals and drawings. It does not take long before we have developed our own language. We twist words, mix with hand signals and create new words. We laugh and make jokes. Thirty minutes into the trip we all have funny nicknames. It is the same all over the world. If you really want to – you can communicate with anyone.


We come from totally different worlds. I live in a hyper modern city in a cold climate on the other side of the globe. For decades I have travelled all over the world – and my new boat mates have lived in a tropical rainforest all their life, no digital communication and none have been further from Manaus than 12 days with boat into the forest. I was in for an interesting week.


You would expect they where interested in my camera, special tools or equipment, but that was not the case. They have a proudness and a sincere passion for the forest I have never seen anywhere and from the first minute they started showing me things, explaining and letting me experience this massive ecosystem.

I could ask anything and they had answers. We stopped on several places along the river, met people and it was the same attitude everywhere. Happy, proud people and always interested in showing me animals, insects, teaching me techniques or make me taste exotic new things. This was exactly what I wanted coming here.


Sometimes we stopped to borrow a kitchen, sometimes to trade food and sometimes sleeping over after a long day on the river. Some places they served homebrewed carperinjas and challenged us in games around the fireplace at night. On Jungle-Portuguese the old people talked unstoppable. It was stories about the forest and about the local people living in the neighborhood. Who was pregnant or had new babies, who left or came back and who was living with who. This was the local news – the jungle Facebook. I listened curious, got some translations and enjoyed the feeling of being part of the storytelling culture. It is common to have many kids and they don’t seem to be very monogamous. Sounded to me like they moved around up and down the river mixing families quite often.


Life in a tropical rainforest, like this, is free of stress. There is abundance of food everywhere. Fruits in the trees, fish in the river, nuts, roots and animals to hunt. You are never hungry and never cold. Finding or building a place to sleep is easy.

When we met people they seemed happy and was always friendly. But they told me that the further into the forest and farther from civilization you venture, you might encounter tribes not so friendly.

Let’s worry about that next time – because it will definitely be a next time.

Read more from the Amazone:



Be the first to comment on "Life on the river"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.