At a roofed outdoor restaurant beside the Amazon river, a thunderstorm closing in, clear lightning beams in the distance send two young girls screaming, their father laughing heartily. It’s getting windier as well, while still hot and smelling of vegetation and exhausts. The tables table cloth clips proves their purpose, I’ve previously always thought them such an unnecessary object. A not to cheesy guy on a barstool with an acoustic guitar accompanies the thunder roaring closer, joking about it between songs but as everything else in this city it is incomprehensible to me.
In a book shop earlier hoping for a read for tomorrows boat ride, I found an old and scribbled but english copy of Anna Karenina wedged in among the overflowing shelfs of Portuguese stuff, which I got for free.
Santarém is a lush but gaudy shopping mall perched on the strange and sacred junction where the Tapajós and Amazon rivers meet without mixing - literally that is, the formers brown water won’t mix with the laters clear, creating the odd effect of two rivers flowing side by side in the same channel. It seem to be common practice to employ a sort of MC miked up outside shops urging passersby to come and buy stuff - “Hey mister, you seem to need a new shirt!”, “Hey girls, don’t you need to update your wardrobe?”, all of this but speculation since I ain't understand a word. But I can’t really figure out any other explanation to why so many amplified dudes are standing on the sidewalks shouting down each other?
The harbour linger a colonial feel, some boats looks like from Fitzcarraldo, one of which I hope will take me to south the Tapajos to Fordlandia tomorrow. I’ve heard it takes 13 hours on a good day, and that it’s a advisable to bring a hammock to hang from the fixtures since there wont be seats. I imagine weathered and tattoed men with manchetes and suspicious eyes, ageing german biologists with oversized moustaches and pith helmets, hardcore National Geographic journalists that has seen it all, the odd monkey.
But no, the boat is a very modern thingy. Flat tv's play blockbusters for everyday commuters in reclining seats, sleeping, reading or working laptops. The captain tells me the journey will take approx 4 hours, slightly disappointed I pick up my computer and get some work done. At lunch-time a cartoonish looking chef serves spaghetti, rice, beans, mashed potatoes and meat all on the same plate - carbs for everyone!