Like Oil & Water: The Meeting of the Waters

Aerial view over the Meeting of the Waters
Aerial view over the Meeting of the Waters

We made it out of the Amazon alive! Sounds obvious now, but there were definitely points during our stay where I questioned whether we would. We packed up our bags and left the lodge first thing in the morning so that we would have enough time to stop by the famed Meeting of the Waters back in Manaus before getting dropped off at the airport. While we were relieved to no longer stay in the depths of the rainforest, I for one was sad to be leaving such a beautiful, untapped part of this world and the hospitable staff that welcomed us there.

Hiding inside the safety net.  Just as uncomfortable as it looks!
Hiding inside the safety net. Just as uncomfortable as it looks!
Another example of the breakfast spreads we would have each morning, always filled with some surprise exotic flavors.  Here, we had tapioca pancakes, a purple potato, and plantains.
Another example of the breakfast spreads we would have each morning, always filled with some surprise exotic flavors. Here, we had tapioca pancakes, purple potatoes, papaya, mango, and plantains.
View from the river of Sao Thome, the village we stayed in
View from the river of Sao Thome, the village we stayed in
Floating gas station
Floating gas station

Once Thiago dropped us off at the pier and Ne picked us up in his car, we headed over to the main pier in Manaus, which housed an extensive fish market. Here, we saw a number of exotic, local fish that were freshly caught, including the pirarucu, stingrays, large sardines, tucunare, tambaqui, pacu (a distant cousin to the piranha that we ate several times at the lodge), and the stone fish, which actually did feel as hard as stone. We met up with another boat here, which took us out on the short trip out to the Meeting of the Waters. This was the phenomenon where the acidic, warmer Rio Negro flowed alongside the sandy, colder Rio Solimões for 4 miles without mixing, and the best point to witness this was from the main pier in Manaus. Floating directly atop this area, we could actually see the line where the two rivers met, and could dip our hands in to feel the difference in temperature. Of course, this was right after Tarzan was telling us about how dangerous the Rio Solimões can be, with its higher concentration of piranhas and alligators. Originating from the peaks of the Andes Mountains in Peru, the Rio Solimões (technically known by a different name in Peru) is a much harsher river to live off of due to a much higher concentration of mosquitoes. In contrast, the high acidity of the Rio Negro, which originates in Colombia, makes it harder for mosquitoes to live and breed, so more tourism is conducted in basins off of this river. That said, I certainly experienced my fair share of mosquitoes off the Rio Negro, so I couldn’t imagine how it would’ve been off of the muddier river! Once the two rivers eventually mix, they become the Amazon River which then empties out into the Atlantic. Another cool fact: while the two rivers carry essentially the same fish species, they differ in size and taste based on which river they live in.

Freshly caught pacu, a cousin of the piranha
Freshly caught pacu, a cousin of the piranha
This gives you a better idea of how much meat makes up the pirarucu, biggest fish in the Amazon
This gives you a better idea of how much meat makes up the pirarucu, the fish we tried to haul out of the river yesterday
Scary looking catfish
Scary looking catfish
At the point of the Meeting of the Waters, with the muddy Solimoes River closer in the picture and Rio Negro in the back
At the point of the Meeting of the Waters, where the Rio Solimoes and Rio Negro flow side by side without mixing

Our last stop before the airport was a market where we tried some really tasty passion fruit and guava juices, along with some pastels (meat-filled pastries). Then it was time to say goodbye to the Amazon and Manaus, although it turned out that we’d be spending some quality time at the Manaus airport for quite a while. Upon checking in (3 hours early at that), we were told that we could not fly our original itinerary since there were no flights from our connection city, Brasilia, to Recife, as previously planned. So we got bumped to a later flight with a layover through Rio, which meant that instead of arriving in Recife at 10:45pm, we wouldn’t get there until 2am. While that explanation sounded strange, we later verified with other Americans at the airport that they were on our original “nonexistent” flight! Unfortunately, we were left with no choice at that point as we’d realized that they decided to bump us for whatever reason. Thankfully, we did eventually make it to Recife – at 2am – and at least we already had transportation arranged through our hotel to drive us the 45 minutes south to our hotel in Porto de Galinhas.

Saying goodbye to Tarzan
Tarzan – the man responsible for keeping us alive amidst our many adventures over these last 48 hours
Pastels, a popular Brazilian street food filled with meat, and my personal favorite, pao de queijo (yes, more).  And of course a lovely Itaipava to wash it all down.
Chicken pastel, a popular Brazilian street food, and my personal favorite, pao de queijo (yes, more). And of course a refreshing Itaipava to wash it all down.

HOW WE DID IT: 3-day Amazon tour and transportation were booked through Amazon Tarzan – this covered us all the way until the airport and included the Meeting of the Waters tour Hotel in Porto de Galinhas: Pousada Villa Serena (booked through Booking.com) Taxi from Recife to Porto de Galinhas was booked through our hotel and cost R$140/US$60

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