Eleven thirty, in the evening, and I still have to start the day’s story. It has been quite a while since I have experienced this amount of pressure to deliver! Time has many faces. Here we go.

For starters, it will be obvious that I have been victorious in my battle against the piranhas. Better even, I ate them, and not the other way around! All told, we caught four of them in Lake Maico: two red ones, one black one and one baby that was too small to determine its race. Our on board specialist did put them on the grill and turned them into grainy pellets. The most adventuresome amongst us have tasted it. It had “character”, some kind of spiciness, without being hot. When we had eaten our portions, the guide let out a little secret: this was the Brazilian Viagra. I can assure ye’ all that this Belgian – descendant from those that beat the armies of Julius Cesar (once), wasn’t impressed, nor affected in any way or another.

Meanwhile we are in Santarèm, 300000 souls, a jungle town where the waters of the Amazon and the Tapajós come together, albeit – contrary to what we would generally assume, these rivers only mix after 8 miles. The separation between the silt-rich, brownish Amazon water and the blue, oxygen-rich waters of the Tapajós, is easily discernable. That applies also to the dolphins, but the latter have, so far, avoided my photographic eyes. Postponed is not foregone! I did catch an iguana though. That is, admittedly, a lot easier because he just stays put, lazy and uninterested. The challenge here is to discover it amidst the leafy river shores. Our guide, luckily, knew what to look for, and where to find it!

Around Santarem, where we crisscrossed the waters by boat all afternoon, time stands still and people are dirt poor. In the pictures I have selected a typical “homestead”. It is situated one hour by motorboat from Santarèm, with nothing in between. You will notice that in front of the house there is just one rowing boat: fathers and sons fish at their leisure on the surrounding rivulets, while mothers and daughters were nowhere to be seen.

And yet, there are lots and lots of happy faces, the air is filled with joyful laughter. In general people are friendly, empathic and talkative. A melting pot of small and tall, young and old, white and black and everything in between, and more – that is the Amazon. I‘ll bet that Prozac is not very popular; neighbors and friends fill every gap! The frontiers of humanness are nigh invisible around here, hidden perhaps behind the shores, barely discernable in the distance, miles and miles away. Immeasurable Amazon, beyond our western grasp.

Tomorrow will be “at ease”. We stop at 8am in Boca de Valeria, one day away from Manaus. They plan a “tender service” again. According to the experienced travelers Boca is an Indian village with about 80 inhabitants. According to the same sources, the kids, in traditional dress, await Santa Claus, dressed up as an American: an inverted inversion so to speak.

There is still la lot to write: about time, about seas and rivers, about Spinoza. My little black notebooks contain slivers of thoughts. They just ought to be structured and written down. Mañana is a magic word that never fails!

Prinsendam, Friday January 14, 2011, 2345hrs

In the middle of the ever flowing, ever imposing Amazon