I’ve been away from my desk for a whole month, and now I have lots of news to share! My family and I have been on a great adventure, exploring the wild and steamy-hot Amazon jungle in Brazil. We are very lucky to have some good friends who live there, so we were well looked after.
We travelled by air to the city of Belem, which is at the mouth of the Amazon River. As the airplane was landing I was amazed to see a huge city full of highrise buildings right in the middle of the jungle! The city spreads for miles and reaches right to the edge of the river.
We arrived in a shiny, modern airport and were met by our friend Diego who is a musician. He plays the cello and is full of fun. For the next four days, Diego took us on some very unexpected adventures!
The first thing we did was load up a little wooden boat with lots of boxes, bottles of water and some delicious cakes. We set off towards an island called Combu which is a 20-minute boat ride from the city. You can see the city behind us, and above our heads were lots of lifejackets stuffed into the roof. That made me feel a little bit safer as it was a bumpy ride!
When we got to the other side we climbed up a wooden dock to a special jungle school and community centre built on tall stilts. All the buildings in the jungle are built this way, with wooden walkways and thatched roofs.
Once we had unloaded all our boxes a small group of local people began to arrive. Diego explained that he and his friends run a charity called AmaZonArt which brings health care and education to the Amazon Indians. On this visit we were going to teach all the local children how to brush their teeth. Diego unpacked one of the boxes which was full of toothbrushes and little tubes of toothpaste. We also had a giant tiger puppet with realistic teeth so we could show them the correct method for brushing.
First everyone had a nice cool fruit drink and a lovely piece of cake. Then the children and their mums all sat on a long bench and learned all about tooth brushing.
This school and community centre was built with the help of AmaZonArt, and they visit regularly to help the local people and play music for them. If you look closely you can see a poster behind the children which shows a tortoise which has got a strangely deformed shell. The title of the poster is Pollution in the Rivers and it explains that the turtle got a plastic ring caught around its shell when it was young, and it had to grow around the ring into that horrible shape.
Diego’s charity is trying to educate people not to throw rubbish or motor oil into the river because of the harm they do to the environment. AmaZonArt also provides medicines, water filters and mosquito nets to help prevent malaria and other serious diseases.
We took a little walk around the centre, and Diego told us a funny story of how once, when the place was being built, he was leaning casually against a tree and suddenly noticed a giant tarantula spider crawling right next to his hand! EEEK!!
After this very interesting visit with the local children, we got into a little canoe and paddled along a smaller river. We could see lots of wooden huts where all the children had come from. Everyone travels by boat because there are no roads.
Diego asked my children if they wanted to swim in the river, and of course they said yes! We stopped at someone’s hut to get changed, and then in they went. The water was warm, brown and soupy, and no one could see the bottom. I was hoping they wouldn’t come across any piranhas or alligators!
What they enjoyed most of all was coating themselves in Amazonian mud. Doesn’t that look like fun?
You may not be surprised to learn that I stayed on the dock and took pictures. I wasn’t brave enough to get in the river with them, but we all had a fantastic day deep in the Amazon jungle!