By Ricky Skelton
February 25, 2008

What a time, what a place, what an experience. With no ayahuasca hangover at all, we stopped for supplies and headed for the dock. The twice weekly big boat to Manaus took an age to load. Uncle Mad had to follow us with his own little rib boat to fool the river police, big boats towing little boats being illegal in Crazy Town. He roared out of the darkness, circled Big Boat like a sheepdog with its flock, threw his rope to the crew, ran up Little Boat and climbed up Big Boat like a monkey to join us at the back. What an entrance.

Not finished with climbing, he decided we should go up to the roof. What a move. A crate of beer, the roof of the boat, a clear night, the jungle going darkly past, what more do you need? How about a full moon? One was rising over the trees, huge and round and yellow. We drank, we talked, we laughed, with journeys down to the toilet becoming more and more precarious. One slip, one stumble meant disappearing with a splash to alert the caimans and piranhas. Wed wanted to bring one of the 5 litre jugs of ayahuasca from the ceremony. Probably a good job we didnt. Well…

As the moon died, we stopped at the Village of Mud and unloaded, loaded up Little Boat, climbed in, and headed down Wood River spotting caimans on the muddy banks with the spotlight. Turning up a tributary, we headed through the half-submerged trees into areas where the river widened into a lake or narrowed so we had to thread our way between the trunks.

All this as the sky brightened softly in front. The dawn chorus was starting, with huge groups of macaws screeching, flocks of parakeets panicking, and toucans gliding effortlessly into the tree-tops, wings closed. A million more birds, unidentified or unseen, added to the racket, and they do this every dawn of every day in the Amazon. Huge fishing birds fly down the tunnel of trees ahead of the boat, swallows dart, dive and skim the surface as they catch the morning insects. Neon-blue butterflies bigger than your hand dazzle in the first rays of dawn, others crackle like electricity as they dance together, spiralling like smoke towards the sky, and still more covered the floor and our skin, licking salt off the morning sweat. We could enjoy all this in silence

The silence had started when the engine of Little Boat was turned off as we turned on to the sand of a tiny river beach four hours from Wood River and the Village of Mud, six hours further to Crazy Town but possibly four days, we were a long way from civilisation as we strung our hammocks up between the trees.

This was it. Wed made it. We were deep in the Amazon Jungle.

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Previous articles by Ricky:

Around Brazil: Crazy Town Ceremonies
Around Brazil: Crazy Town
Around Brazil: Manaus
Around Brazil: Santarem & Alter do Chao
Around Brazil: Amazon Swarms and Amazon Storms
Understanding Brazil: Playing Pool
Around Brazil: Gurup
Around South America: Peninsula Valdes
Around South America: Patagonia
Around South America: Montevideo, Uruguay
Around Brazil: The Amazon
Around South America: Bariloche, Argentina
Understanding Gringoes: Drinking
The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off Part 2
The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off Part 1
Understanding Brazil: The Kids
Brazil v Argentina: Buying Beer
Understanding Brazil: Mosquitoes
Around Brazil: São Luis
Teaching English in Brazil
Around Brazil: Lenois Maranhenses
Understanding Brazil: The National Anthem
Around Brazil: Barreirinhas
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara to Barreirinhas
Understanding Brazil: Shopping Centres
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara
Around Brazil: Chapada da Diamantina/Lenois
Brazil vs. Argentina: Statues of Christ
Around Brazil: Salvador
Brazil vs. Argentina: The Buses
Around Brazil: Morro de São Paulo (& Itabuna)
Understanding Brazil: The Workmen
Around Brazil: Praa Pateo do Colegio
Around Brazil: Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Rio de Janeiro to Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Cristo Redentor
Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil – The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?

Can’t make this up